Chaplain's Corner: Spiritual Disciplines

  • Published
  • By Capt. Jason Gilleland
  • Special Warfare Training Wing/ Chaplain Office


Developing the Soul: Introduction to Spiritual Disciplines

When someone chooses to join the military, they are essentially choosing a life of structure, order and discipline. While most career fields within the military demand some level of self -discipline, those who chose to serve in special warfare will be required to exercise an even greater level of such. Over the past year, as I have had the opportunity to observe different developmental training programs such as PREP, A&S, and TACP, it quickly became apparent that in order to be successful within special warfare, you must have an amazing amount of discipline in both mind and body. Understandably, this training is geared towards further developing discipline in both body and mind in such a way that the trainees are able to withstand and even thrive in the midst of intense pressure and unfavorable conditions. From carrying a hundred-pound ruck sack for miles, to holding your breath and completing multiple underwater drills with no end in sight, this rigorous training is designed to develop a highly disciplined and skilled warrior.


While it is expected that the trainees constantly develop their skills, permanent party instructors, cadre, coaches and trainers also have to continue developing and maintaining their proficiency by staying jump qualified or going through annual instructor courses like IQC.


Beyond physical and mental training, there is another aspect of warrior development that is just as significant; that is spiritual discipline. This discipline is just as vital as the development of the warrior’s body and mind.


Alexander Solzhenitsyn rightly noted that “The meaning of earthly existence is not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prosperity, but in the development of the soul.”


One of the means by which we develop the soul is through spiritual disciplines. What are spiritual disciplines? Think of them as weightlifting for your soul. Just as you would go to the gym to lift weights and get stronger, so you can use different spiritual disciplines to strengthen your soul.


Keep in mind that just as you would not go to the gym without a specific purpose in mind, likewise spiritual discipline without purpose, is tiresome. So, why should we practice spiritual disciplines?


Ultimately, we practice spiritual disciplines to develop or “train” our inner self. Through these disciplines we build the necessary spiritual resiliency to replace destructive habits and develop into the type of people we desire to be. These disciplines bring about the deepest sense of meaning and purpose in our lives and transform us into spiritually mature men and women of character.


When you think about someone who is spiritually mature and strong in character, who do you think of and how do you think they became that way?


Over the next series of articles, my intent will be to highlight spiritual disciplines that can be incorporated into your own life, enrich your inner self, and strengthen your character, so that you will be a well-trained, spiritually fit warrior.