WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Among the four domains of self-wellness (physical, mental, spiritual and social), the spiritual domain is known to be the gateway to inner peace and spiritual growth.
Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, wing command chief, hosted a video on Airmen wellness Aug. 2 as part of the “Let’s Get it Wright” initiative.
They discussed the importance of all four wellness domains and how each one plays a major role in personnel taking care of themselves and the mission.
“When the Air Force built the Comprehensive Airman Fitness program and established the four domains, the pair that I see closely related is mental and spiritual,” Miller said. “Sometimes, folks will conflate spiritual to religion, and it is not.
“Spiritual deals with your moral compass, your internal values, and it is a great connection to character.”
In the video, Miller quotes an author who wrote a book about the subject: “Whenever you drain your soul or your spirit, you drain your body, and whenever you fuel your soul or spirit, you fuel your body.”
Shaffer added a little advice he used to offer Airmen himself.
“Never let the mind tell the heart what it cannot do,” he said. “Whenever I think about the spiritual domain, I cannot help but think about the heart.”
Among Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s many resources Airmen can use to be more spiritually grounded are yoga classes. They are normally held every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at Wright Field Fitness Center from 5 to 6 p.m.
The sessions have been temporarily postponed due to WPAFB’s Health Protection Condition Charlie transition as base leaders continue addressing local COVID-19 concerns, officials said.
Valerie Crandall, the WFFC yoga instructor, has taught the discipline for five years, including at WPAFB since the fall of 2018.
Crandall elaborated on what yoga means to her, and why she thinks it is a great practice to use in order to achieve spiritual wellness.
“Yoga teaches people that everyone has a light within us and that light is not only what connects us to a greater power but also connects us to other human beings,” she said. “The light, or divinity, that is within me is the same divinity that is in every other person.
“That higher power might be God or it might be the higher power that is unknown to us, but ultimately, it points to a belief in something greater and something that connects us all. When I close each yoga class, I always remind my students that I am grateful for their presence, that I am honored to guide them through this practice, and that the light in me sees, honors and reflects the light within each of them. I truly believe that.”
When Crandall isn’t practicing or teaching yoga to clear her head and focus on the present, she often thinks about her spiritual wellness, and what will be beneficial toward achieving full balance.
“When a person is spiritually well, they have a set of values, principles, morals and beliefs that provides them with a sense of purpose and meaning in life,” she said. “A person who is not spiritually at peace would not be a much grounded person.
“A person not spiritually at peace might not have the power within themselves to make difficult decisions easily, whether temporal or moral. They might really struggle with periods of change or loss, and they might lack resiliency while facing adversity. I also think that a person who has not thought about their spiritual wellness might be a little lost in the sense that they do not feel connected to what gives their life meaning, purpose and hope.”
Although spiritual well-being is not entirely dependent upon religion, religion is a piece of the spiritual-wellness puzzle.
“Every human being has the capacity to seek inspiration, motivation and drive from something outside of themselves,” said Col. Kim Bowen, 88 ABW chaplain. “Exploring one’s spirituality provides a way that helps us put meaning and purpose to life.”
Bowen encouraged those in need of spiritual assistance to utilize available resources. He also offers church as an option if Airmen are spiritually astray and want to try a different path to achieve spiritual wellness.
“Life gets very difficult at times, but we need never give up hope,” he said. “Even if you are not going through difficult times, do not wait until you are.
“We want to get ahead of our challenges and we want to be 100% well balanced all of the time. Even when life is going well, we should all be asking ourselves, ‘How am I doing in each area of wellness… am I living a well-balanced life?’”
To watch leadership’s “Let’s Get it Wright” discussion of wellness, visit www.facebook.com/WPAFB/videos/601966714540546/.