Amanda Edwards

The world needs your SPIRITUAL intelligence

What are your natural assets?

When you consider what you bring to the table — maybe a literal boardroom table — you might point to your agile mind, ability with words, intellect that earned you a degree to back up certain expertise at that table …

Or more figuratively, the assets you bring to your household table and friendships may be very different qualities like your sense of humor, your loyalty, or hey — maybe you’re just straight up sexy and not afraid to show it. I say keep that up!

The variety of natural gifts we celebrate most as a society tends to fall into categories of intelligence, whether the IQ or the social/emotional skills many now call the EQ, our emotional intelligence. We benefit from the progress that brought both concepts to the attention of educators, employers, and parents; the more both intellectual and emotional assets are valued, the better equipped we become as individuals and whole societies.

But something’s still missing

In the work I do, I get to see up-close another category of assets that can act as foundational support for the other two — or rather provide a glue-like substance holding our assets together, often without our noticing it’s there. And that’s our SPIRITUAL intelligence quotient, SQ.

I’m certainly not the first to coin the phrase, and you can find a lot of great articles and books that dive into its meaning and uses, particularly this one from Danah Zohar, who is credited for the term. Not reliant on any specific religious practice, at the heart of the SQ idea are these questions:

  • How well connected are we to the voice of our inner being … and its ability to discern the higher meaning in everyday events for us?

  • How accessible is our sense of belonging to something greater than ourselves – a purpose, a community, the immense universe itself?

  • How readily to we find a sense of inner equanimity in a variety of circumstances … and use it toward improved day-to-day functioning in our lives?

  • How much reverence do we feel toward life itself in all its diverse forms — and apply the humility born from that state toward learning and progressing as much as we can?

These components of our spiritual intelligence are extremely influential on our well-being and success as individuals and as a human family. They directly affect the ways we face natural adversity in our lives, the way we treat and take care of this earth we live on, and the ways we treat and collaborate with each other.

Again, I’m far from the first to lift up the value in cultivating these natural assets; philosophers, scientists, physicians, and business leaders from many cultures have brought individual examples to light, and some have even created reliable scales for measuring spiritual intelligence. But the concept hasn’t come close to receiving the attention that IQ and EQ have in our public discourse, and I hope that will continue to change — as our world is calling out loudly for a healthy SQ.

There are three things you can do today to better know and grow your own spiritual Intelligence quotient —

1) A surprising tip

My first recommendation is a personal favorite, partly because it surprises people to hear it had anything to do with my spiritual abilities, and even more because it shines a light on what a complex apparatus the human being is. When I was investigating whether a person’s IQ can improve with certain behaviors, or brain training, so to speak, I found something interesting. Scientists don’t all agree; some say your IQ is what it is and won’t change significantly (which seems a little fatalistic and boring to me), but I was glad learn plenty of scientific research does support to the possibility IQ is improvable. How, besides an addiction to crosswords like your brother-in-law credits with his brilliance?

Here’s where we circle back to my tip for spiritual intelligence. See, researchers at both the University of South Wales and the University of British Columbia found a specific factor that can boost a person’s IQ, the intelligence quotient we all know and value … and it happened to be the same thing I recommend first and foremost to my clients and workshop students who want to improve their access to their natural spiritual assets. Want to know what it is?

Aerobic exercise.

Yes! Using our bodies vigorously for even a short, sustained period sets off chemical activity that not only boosts our brain power, but I also know it improves the sense of inner balance, greater connection to others and the broader universe, and the intuitive awareness that fuels our spiritual voice. Isn’t our intertwined mind-body-spirit nature incredible?? Go out for a speed walk under the trees and you’ll have your answer! (More on the benefit of those trees in another post!)

2) You are what you believe

OK, now the second thing you can do today is what I call a belief inventory. You can get as elaborate as you want to with it, but the basic approach is to list the most essential, fundamental things you believe. As you write down the parts of your personal credo — perhaps about the source and purpose of life itself, about humanity’s nature, about your role in life’s complex system – you get to decide what form your statements take.

Next, in a column alongside that list of belief statements, identify your sources. Why do you believe that statement? Who or what told you to? Have you believed it for longer than you can remember, from your gut, or did your life teach you to believe it somehow? And finally, in a third column, jot how it feels to believe that statement. Does it set you on a joy, reverence, inspiration? Of doom, frustration, despair? Try to separate yourself from the idea that there are right or wrong answers in this belief inventory; just dig deep into your personal perspective and be honest in the exercise.

It’ll be that last column that reveals a lot about whether a belief is serving you well or not. If we all share a universal freedom to think our own thoughts (and we do) then why hold ourselves to beliefs that feel … icky? Is a belief worth believing if it holds us back or limits our hope for goodness in our lives or the world? Your relationship with your belief system is a crucial part of your spiritual intelligence and its ability to serve you well.

3) Polish that gem

Finally, the third suggestion I have for you today is to seek out some conflict. Yep, you got that right. Now I don’t mean go pick a fight with your neighbor over the volume of their music or the mess in their driveway. I mean seek out some abrasive inner conflict! Go put yourself in a new environment. Do something that makes you feel a little like a fish out of water. See what happens when you take a leap.

We all have very different comfort zones, so pushing yourself can look like anything from eating food spicier than your mom’s mac ‘n’ cheese to taking a ballet class, making conversation with a stranger, or skydiving. The crux of the activity is in what you notice: Pay close attention to your own state of being going into it, be present with whatever feelings come up while you’re doing it, and notice what comes up after you’ve done it.

The ability to choose and move through uncomfortable experiences to a new state of being is an essential spiritual asset — one that can be stretched and strengthened like a muscle.

These three activities will keep your spirit busy and set you off on a powerful exploration of your spiritual awareness. I’d love for you to comment with your experiences, share this post with others, and subscribe on my site to be part of an ongoing connection. I offer a limited number of individual sessions in spirit guidance and Reiki healing as well. I’d love to connect with you!

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