Over the last two years, I’ve learned an important life lesson—how to care for my soul. And it’s become clear that my purpose is to help others understand this lesson, too, because so many of us need to learn to live lives aligned with our souls.
The average human is oblivious to their soul needs and the negative impact of a lack of soul care. They may not even understand “soul” or “soul care” or have a conscious connection with their soul.
If you are aware and understand, wonderful! I’m so glad. And with that level of consciousness, you may already live a life that feeds your soul and be doing a great job of caring for your soul.
Yet, most people don’t think about their soul or living in alignment with the spiritual part of themselves. If you are like them, you may be so caught up in the human experience you forget you are a spiritual being having a physical experience.
If that’s the case, you’ll find it challenging to “live a life that feeds your soul.” But that’s what you and I are here to do—to express and live in alignment with our spiritual nature.
Personal Growth Leads to Soul Consciousness
You may already realize this, but you need to care for your soul just like you care for your body and physical life—if you want to thrive, that is. But soul care requires that you raise your level of consciousness first. That typically requires some sort of personal growth.
Then, you become aware of your soul and its desires. With that awareness, you can make decisions and take actions that express your spiritual nature and fulfill your soul purpose.
Indeed, the higher your level of consciousness, the more able you are to focus on soul care. That’s when you move into the realm of spiritual growth, which leads you to an ever-greater awareness of your soul and soul calling so you can live a soul-aligned life.
What is the Soul?
Spiritual growth is integrally tied to understanding the word “soul.” After all, the soul is the spiritual part of who you are as a human being. And each person may have a different definition of this essential enlivening element, especially since each religion and spiritual tradition offers different meanings for the word.
It’s essential to get clarity on what soul means to you sans any outside influence. Once you have your defined soul for yourself, you can more easily become conscious of and connect with your soul and live in alignment with it.
My general understanding is that the soul is a human’s immaterial, immortal essence. It enters a body by choice at conception. This spiritual element decides on a lesson to learn and a purpose to achieve during its incarnated lifetime.
When you transition from a physical being back to a spiritual being, your soul leaves its temporary physical home. To prove this, a scientific study published in 1907 claimed that the body weighs less at the moment of death—21.3 grams less.
With all this in mind, I define the soul as the spiritual element that gives your physical body life.
Indeed, we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. We are not physical beings having a spiritual experience.
Spirit vs. Soul
The terms “soul” and “spirit” are often used synonymously, but whether or not they mean the same thing is debatable. To understand these terms, first, let’s look at standard definitions of “spirit.”
The word “spirit” lies at the root of the word “spiritual” as well as the word “spirituality.” The dictionary tells us that spirit is:
- the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
- The incorporeal part of humans.
- The soul regarded as separating from the body at death.
Next, consider standard definitions of “soul”:
- the principle of life, feeling, thought, and action in humans regarded as a distinct entity separate from the body and commonly held to be separable in existence from the body; the spiritual part of humans as distinct from the physical part.
- the spiritual part of humans regarded in its moral aspect, or as believed to survive death and be subject to happiness or misery in a life to come.
- the disembodied spirit of a deceased person.
- the emotional part of human nature; the seat of the feelings or sentiments.
- a human being; person.
- the animating principle; the essential element or part of something.
These traditional definitions make it clear that spirit and soul are separate from, while vital to, the physical body. While neither spirit nor soul represents the physical part of the human being, they are both the “thing” that animates the body. The soul may even constitute the essential aspect of being human.
So, are the words “spirit” and “soul” interchangeable? I suppose they may be.
Different Meanings of Soul
Even after looking at definitions, I felt frustrated and confused. So I looked for other explanations or definitions of soul.
I discovered that each religion has a somewhat different view of the soul. For instance:
- Christians see humans as comprised of body, soul, and spirit. However, since soul and spirit are used interchangeably, most believe that a human consists of body and soul. The soul is seen as a conscious element that continues into the afterlife. When it enters the body is often debated.
- Catholics view the soul as the spiritual aspect of humans—the part made in God’s image. -In Confucian traditions, there is a spiritual and corporeal soul.
- In Hinduism, the soul is an individual’s true self or essence.
- Islam refers to the soul as rūh, which means spirit, consciousness, or soul, and nafs, which means self, ego, psyche, or soul. Rūḥ denotes the divine spirit or “breath of life,” while nafs refers to one’s disposition or characteristics.
- Shamanism believes in soul dualism or “multiple souls.” Basically, humans have two or more souls, generally termed the “body soul” (or “life soul”). These are linked to bodily functions and awareness when awake and the “free soul,” which can freely wander during sleep or trance states.
I also turned to my Jewish roots in search of a definition of the soul.
Five Soul Levels
According to the Jewish mystical tradition, called Kabbalah, the soul consists of five levels. Each one involves a higher level of consciousness—specifically “God consciousness”—corresponding to different planes of reality. At each level, humans gain greater awareness of the Creator and Divine revelation. Each level expresses another aspect of what we call “soul.”
The first and lowest level is called Nefesh, which means “soul.” This level is associated with the life force. It provides a human’s physical energy and behavioral traits, including thought, speech, and action. As this level relates to consciousness, it is the point at which humans become aware of the physical body and physical world. Think of it this way: Your soul enters the body and becomes conscious of physicality.
The second level is called Ruach, which translates as “spirit.” This soul level provides a human being’s emotional energy and is defined as “wind” or “breath” (of God). From a consciousness standpoint, it’s about being aware of emotions, specifically love and awe of the Source or Creator.
Neshamah, the third level, is closely associated with Ruach. It also means “soul” and is related to wind and breath. However, this level adds human intelligence—specifically the understanding of principles abstracted from thoughts that arise from the human mind and experience. At this level, the soul is conscious of the concept of continuous creation, life, and existence.
The fourth level of soul, called Chayah, means “life” or “living” and is associated with transcending the physical world. At this soul level, humans are conscious enough to perceive spiritual truth and their own spiritual nature.
The fifth and final soul level is called Yechidah. This soul level brings consciousness of oneness with God—before and after birth as well as after death. This is the Divine spark or spiritual life force—the soul essence.
With this model, all five aspects of the soul provide the human body with animating qualities of one sort or another and can be lumped together using the term “soul.” Additionally, it explains how the soul impacts a human’s consciousness of its spiritual nature.
The Role of Consciousness
The Kabbalistic multi-level approach to the soul also explains how we become more attuned to the soul. As we reach increasingly higher levels of consciousness, we become more aware of the soul and how to live in alignment with its guidance.
Broken down by levels of consciousness, the five soul levels can be seen this way:
- The conscious aspect of soul that enlivens our action.
- The conscious aspect of soul that enlivens our emotions.
- The conscious aspect of soul that enlivens our intellect.
- The conscious aspect of soul that perceives the transcendent element of the soul.
- The conscious aspect of soul that is aware of its unity with the Creator and able to experience that connection.
Your level of consciousness has no limits except those created by the human experience. You forget everything your soul knows at birth. Then it becomes your job to remember—to experience and relearn what you learned.
Humans develop beliefs based on experiences. But unfortunately, these interpretations lead us to believe we are not in a relationship with anything spiritual…let alone our soul or Creator. And that makes it much harder to experience the soul or to hear and act upon its guidance.
That’s where personal growth comes into play. As you remove mental or emotional obstacles to experiencing your soul, you increase the likelihood of experiencing this spiritual element and sensing its messages. That’s when you become conscious enough to align who you are and what you do with your soul.
The Best Care for Your Soul
I believe I am created in God’s image, but that it is not my physical body that is like God. Instead, my body contains a spark of the Divine. That spark—whether it consists of all five soul levels or one aspect universally known as “the soul” is the part of me that is Godlike.
In addition, I believe the soul is always connected to Source—even if we are unaware of this fact. Therefore, I don’t need to “try” to connect with my soul or Creator. I am connected at all times but must become conscious of this fact. As I become more aware of my spiritual self, I can live a life of soul alignment.
Personal growth work removes blocks to the awareness of your soul. You become more conscious, and your increased consciousness leads to proportionally increased soul awareness. This spiritual ascent makes it possible for you to live a soul-aligned life.
Which brings us back around to our topic: how to care for your soul. When you are conscious enough to live a soul-aligned life, you care for your soul in the best possible way.
What is your understanding of the soul? I’d love to know. Leave me a comment below, and please share this post with a friend or on social media.
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Photo courtesy of Arun Sharma .