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Spirituality looks different on all Airmen

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Spirituality means different things to each individual. Some go to worship, some meditate, some hike. Whatever a person does, spiritual fitness is an important part of overall well-being.

The spiritual pillar is one of the four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness, and it may also be the most complicated to understand and measure.

According to Chaplain (Capt.) Joe Watson, the spiritual aspect of an individual is whatever faith or religion they have, or don't have.

"(Spirituality) is part of their life and it means something in their life. They rely on their faith or their God for strength and help," he said. "There are people who do not have a particular religion or faith or who may not even believe in a god. Some[of them] would say, 'I still am a spiritual person, I still have spirituality.' Sometimes it means they hang out in nature and get peaceful there. Or they meditate and relax."

Tech. Sgt. Scott Devine, chapel programs NCO in charge, agreed that spirituality is a peaceful feeling. "It's that peaceful place where harmony can be found," he said.

The spiritual pillar can be one of the hardest to measure how fit a person is.

"It's easy to say I made an excellent on my PT test or I flunked," Watson said. "Faith is not something that you see. It's something hidden inside a person. It is very difficult to measure and I would say the person themselves knows best how they feel."

There are a variety of ways people can grow spiritually. Watson and Devine both recommend reading scripture or other religious material, prayer and attending worship.

They also recognize that there are those who do not have a religion. Those individuals may want to try hiking, running, meditating or reading as a way to grow spiritually.

"Spirituality doesn't mean you have to be religiously seeking prayer or things of that nature. Spirituality could be sitting in your room quietly reading a book," Devine said.

The coming holiday season can be especially hard for Airmen who may not get to spend time with their families.

"The holidays slow us down and remind us of times we have with our family. That makes us homesick, that makes us sad, it gets us down and mentally wears us out," Devine said.

Throughout 2012, the Air Force has focused on each of the four pillars, but inside each individual the pillars are more woven together.

"When I look at the four pillars I don't look at them as separate things because you can't separate a person out into their components," Watson said. "Physically if you're feeling bad, you're probably going to be feeling bad mentally too. They all interact with one another."

The chapel has resources for those who may be looking for something spiritually or just want to talk to someone.

"Chaplains are here to serve people and we respect people. Just because we don't have the same religion or faith or spirituality as someone, doesn't mean we're not able to help them," Watson said. "Even if you don't believe in God, come talk to me if you need help. We don't have to talk about God, we don't have to talk about faith. We're here to serve everybody no matter where they are spiritually."

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