What is Spirituality?
Spirituality is a definitely a broad concept with room for many perspectives. In general, it includes a sense of connection to something bigger than us; and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. It is a universal human experience that touches us all. People often describe a spiritual experience as sacred or as a deep sense of being and interconnectedness.
Spirituality speaks of the feelings we carry, our belief in or connectedness we feel to that which is beyond the tangible world. It can describe the meaning we attach towards social groups, places, our religion or faith. Belief represents the inner truths you have built up as a result of your spiritual journey and the experiences you have witnessed!
The spiritual dimension is your center, your commitment to your value system. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to timeless truths of humanity-Stephen Covey
What Is Spiritual Health?
There is no concrete way to define or explain spiritual health in measurable terms, though spiritual health is tied to the sense of our souls in being connected to the universe and beyond. As spirits, we are a small part of the universe and our spiritual health influences our purpose, existence, and how we happen to look at our experiences and relationships in life.
How Spirituality Enhances Your Health
Spirituality builds upon our belief systems, our willpower and grit – qualities essential in overcoming the hard obstacles in life. There are benefits concerning cognitive and emotional health as well. Spiritual teens and adults have proven to perform well academically and lead overall productive lives. Spirituality is a personal practice led by many, how it enhances your health will depend on your methods, frequency of practice, and overall philosophies.
The secret of health for both mind and body is…live the present moment wisely and earnestly.- Gautama Buddha
There is a strong and crucial relationship between spirituality and health. Here is how it impacts your physical health:
Taking walks in nature and praying are known to boost immunity and fight against diseases. The body’s fight-or-flight response subsides, and the body’s cells go into the rest-and-repair mode. This allows the immune system to heal your entire body. Thus, meditation and prayer are incredibly beneficial for healing, and in turn preventing stress or sickness.
Practising spirituality also means inculcating positive habits like eating healthy and exercising. These have shown to improve the quality of life and to promote longevity.
Regulates Blood Pressure
Spirituality reduces stress levels and triggers the relaxation response in the body. This ends up lowering your blood pressure by allowing the blood vessels to relax and to improve blood flow.
Spirituality and mental health are interconnected. Here’s how:
We feel depressed when we feel a sense of loss or a lack of direction. Spirituality helps you connect to your core and instils a sense of purpose. Through reflection, meditation, and discovering peace and stillness, the depression melts away.
Helps You Socialise
Spirituality enables you to get out of the house, attend prayer groups, and even meet new people. You’ll discover people from all walks of life connecting and this helps you socialise. Socialising with others improves your mood, promotes a sense of bonding, and makes you happier overall.
Removes Emotional Blockages
People who have gone through trauma, grief or unfortunate events in life are left scarred. Spirituality helps them work through those emotions and allows them to forgive themselves. This removes emotional blockages and fosters positive thinking, both of which have shown to have profound effects in every sphere of life.
To determine your spiritual well-being, ask yourself these questions:
- Do I make time for relaxation in my day?
- Do I make time for meditation and/or prayer?
- Do my values guide my decisions and actions?
- Do I have a well-defined sense of purpose and meaning?
- Do I feel in harmony with the world around me?
- Am I accepting of the views of others?
Those with good spiritual health typically display hope, a positive outlook, forgiveness/self-acceptance, commitment, meaning and purpose, a sense of self-worth, clear values, and feelings of peace. People who may need to re-evaluate their spiritual health generally experience feelings of emptiness, anxiety, loss of meaning, self-judgment, apathy and conflicting values. They do think they need to improve themselves.
Everyone’s path to spiritual wellness may be different, it’s important for everyone to explore what they believe and their own sense of meaning and purpose. Some see benefit in meditation, prayer, affirmations, or specific spiritual practices that support their connection to a higher power or belief system. Others enjoy practicing yoga and meditation.
Many of the activities associated with wellness are key components of a healthy spiritual life. Examples include volunteerism, social responsibility, optimism, contributing to society, connectedness with others, feeling of belonging/being part of a group, and love of self/reason to care for self.
If you’re a person actively engaged in the process of spiritual wellness, you’re willing and able to transcend yourself to question the meaning and purpose in your life and the lives of others. In addition, you seek to find harmony between that which lies within and the social and physical forces that come from outside.
SEVEN WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SPIRITUAL HEALTH
1. Explore your spiritual core. By exploring your spiritual core, you are simply asking yourself questions about the person you are and your meaning. So ask yourself: Who am I? What is my purpose? What do I value most? These questions will lead you down a road where you will think more in-depth about yourself and allow you to notice things about yourself that will help you achieve fulfilment.
2. Look for deeper meanings. Looking for deeper meanings in your life and analyzing occurring patterns will help you see that you have control over your destiny. Being aware of this can help you achieve a happy and healthy life.
3. Get it out. Expressing what is on your mind will help you to maintain a focused mind. After a long day or a significant event, you may feel confused and not be able to make sense of your feelings. By writing down your thoughts, you may be able to think clearer and move forward.
4. Try yoga. Yoga is a physical technique that can help improve your spiritual wellness by reducing emotional and physical strains on your mind and body. Yoga is taught at all different levels and can help lower stress, boost the immune system and lower blood pressure as well as reduce anxiety, depression, fatigue, and insomnia.
5. Travel. It’s true! Taking time for yourself to travel to a comforting place or somewhere new can do wonders for your mind. When you are at a place where your mind can keep out distractions and help you reflect and rest, you will have a better connection with yourself.
6. Think positively. Once you start viewing things in your life in a positive manner, you will find yourself thinking differently and refocusing your mind to a happy, healthy place. When you eliminate negativity and re-frame how you think of certain things and situations, you’ll notice yourself being more relaxed.
7. Take time to meditate. While managing your time and daily tasks can be hard, it is crucial to devote time to connecting with yourself. Whether in the morning after waking up, during your lunch break, or before you go to sleep, take five to 10 minutes to meditate each day. Fitting mediation and relaxation into your lifestyle will free your mind and foster a stronger relationship with your spiritual wellness.
Characteristics of Spiritual Health
- Is free of addictive habits
- Finds fulfilment in self, others, work, and leisure
- Accepts the limitations of humanity
- Takes time to meditate or communicate with the Holy
- Finds illness as enabling, not disabling
- Knows mortality to be inescapable yet redeeming
- Investigates and interprets illness within the context of meaning
- Balances dependence and freedom
- Uses health to serve others
- Balances the spiritual with the physical and emotional
Lessons for Spiritual Health
- Illness is often a metaphor for what is out of sync in our lives.
- Often illness is not an event but a process, which likely began months or years before the appearance of physical manifestations of disease.
- Resentment, anger, jealousy, anxiety, and unresolved grief are the silent and relentless precursors to illness.
- Social support, affirmation, and a positive outlook have a beneficial effect on the healing process.
- There is a vital relationship between spirituality and health, well-being, and susceptibility to disease.
- The key element to the healing process often lies within oneself.
You find peace not by rearranging the circumstances of your life but by realising who are at the deepest level-Eckhart Tolle
Art Therapist and Healer, Mumbai
Image by Arun Mohan, Pixabay