I journalled the following during my first-ever trip to Colorado, back in January 2010, perched in the towering Rocky Mountains:
“I woke up dry this morning…slight headache, dry mouth, and—this I’m not used to—dry lower throat. It’s fascinating to listen to my biofeedback. We’re supposed to drink 4 cups of water with each meal and 3 bottles of water in between. I’ve been drinking a ton of water—compared to my normal intake—but I have to be honest with myself that I haven’t been drinking as much as I should. I drink some water every time I thought about it. But is that good enough?"
A) My mind was not yet calibrated to how much H20 I needed in the Rockies' altitude, so I couldn't trust it. My body was probably crying out for water in little ways, but I just hadn’t learned how to listen.”
B) I am prone to altitude sickness (common in those with Hereditary Alpha Tryptasemia Syndrome, or HATS), but I didn't know it at that point.
C) I have vibratory urticaria (diagnosed by the National Institutes of Health, or the NIH) from the lengthy, cross-country flight; again, I didn't know it at that point.
I wonder if it's the same with my spiritual thirst?
As leaders, we usually understand our bodies’ appetite for rest (literally to sleep longer and to have more productive sleep). We feed the need of our minds to grow and stretch through creative experiences, problem-solving and personal development. We even—sometimes!—give our minds a break, through down-time and recreation.
But what about our souls? Spiritual thirst is what encourages us, even compels us to be part of something bigger than ourselves. For me, my spiritual thirst is filled through a relationship with Christ. For others, it is filled through meditation, through giving back in the community or from being outdoors and connected to nature. It is a visceral, specific need that cannot be filled in any other way.
Failing to listen to my spiritual biofeedback does not just harm my spiritual life; it has a sneaky way of impacting all of my other domains, as well. Scheduling time to fill my spiritual needs is just as critical as scheduling time for my other needs.
To quote Switchfoot, "This is your life. Are you who you want to be?"
Maybe it's time for us to listen to our spirits' biofeedback.
Lyrics: © 2003 Switchfoot
Photography: © 2010 Ashton Leigh Will