Spirituality and Mental Illness

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • I’m writing this on a Sunday afternoon while my mind is reflecting back over my spiritual journey through the years. I started my professional career in a faith-based organization, and my own spiritual life has ebbed and flowed over time. For many of us, spirituality is a lifeline…for many of us, spirituality is fraught with pain…for some, it simply has no meaning either way. But for most of us, spirituality either really helps us, or really gets in the way of our wellness.

    Each of us ultimately has to work out our relationship with a higher power in our own way and in our time. My greatest personal concern are those spiritual traditions that urge people to step away from treatments that have been found to be not only helpful but critically important for most of us—like medication and talk therapy—to rely solely on a faith-based approach. I personally find this dangerous and harmful.  
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    Like many of the wellness and recovery tools I use, I find my spiritual life to be additive—something I do not substitute for any other part of my treatment but something I add to my treatment that allows me greater wellness and a fuller life. I have shared the collection of prayers (located at the end of this blog) from a variety of faith perspectives with many of my peers as helpful in their daily lives. Perhaps you will find these helpful as well.

    We are complex people, and each of us will have a different mix of treatment, support, and wellness tools that lead to recovery. If spirituality is a part of your journey, I hope you find it as helpful and life-enriching as I have.


    She Who Heals—An American Indian Healing Prayer

    Mother, sing me a song
    That will ease my pain,
    Mend broken bones,
    Bring wholeness again.

    Catch my babies
    When they are born,
    Sing my death song,
    Teach me how to mourn.

    Show me the Medicine
    Of the healing herbs,
    The value of spirit,
    The way I can serve.

    Mother, heal my heart
    So that I can see
    The gifts of yours
    That can live through me

    Buddhist Morning Prayer
    from the Sukhavativyuha Sutra

    Full of equanimity,
    of benevolent thought,
    of tender thought,
    of affectionate thought,
    of useful thought,
    of serene thought,
    of firm thought,
    of unbiased thought,
    of undisturbed thought,
    of unagitated thought,
    of thought (fixed on) the practice of discipline and transcendent wisdom,
    having entered on knowledge which is a firm support to all thoughts,
    equal to the ocean in wisdom,
    equal to the mountain Meru in knowledge,
    rich in many good qualities....
    they attain perfect wisdom.

    Prayer When You Are Depressed
    by Dr. Walter L. Weston

    God, life seems so bleak and useless right now. I don't have any energy. I have no ambition to do much of anything. I am really feeling down. I feel "down on" myself and "down on" everyone around me. Even as I pray, I don't sense your presence. I am going through the motions, knowing that you are still with me.

    I know that I am sacred and precious but they are just words right now. I know that my life has been worthwhile, full of many wonderful people and experiences, much happiness and joy. I feel little of this right now. God, all I can do is affirm the goodness of life and try to hold on until the darkness is replaced by your light and love.

  • Help me to spot the lies that my depressed emotions are telling me. Life is good. I am good. You are good. Grant me hope. My loved ones love me. Life will be beautiful again. Soon, I will see the beauty around me again. Soon, I will again know vitality and purpose, happiness and love. Until then, give me the strength and hope to survive this day.

    Help me to smile and laugh, even if just for a moment. Be my strength and salvation. I ask you to restore me and make me whole. Fill me with the Word and the Spirit that I might be recreated anew. I praise and thank you. Amen.

    Prayer at Time of Adversity: An Inuit Indian Prayer
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    I think over again my small adventures
    My fears,
    Those small ones that seemed so big,
    For all the vital things
    I had to get and reach.
    And yet there is only one great thing,
    The only thing,
    To live to see the great day that dawns
    And the light that fills the world

    Jewish Bedtime Prayer

    Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the universe,
    who causes the bonds of sleep to fall on my eyes,
    and slumber on my eyelids.

    May it be acceptable in your presence,
    O Lord my God, and God of my fathers,
    to cause me to lie down in peace,
    and to raise me up again in peace;
    and suffer me not to be troubled with evil dreams, or evil reflections;
    but grant me a calm and uninterrupted repose in your presence;
    and enlighten my eyes again,
    lest I sleep the sleep of death.

    Blessed are you, O Lord,
    who gives light to the whole universe
    in your glory.

    The Serenity Prayer

    God, grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    Living one day at a time;
    Enjoying one moment at a time;
    Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
    Taking, as He did, this sinful world
    as it is, not as I would have it;
    Trusting that He will make all things right
    if I surrender to His Will;
    That I may be reasonably happy in this life
    and supremely happy with Him
    Forever in the next.

    Sanskrit Salutation to the Dawn
    Listen to the salutation to the dawn,
    Look to this day for it is life, the very life of life,
    In its brief course lie all the verities and realities of our existence.
    The bliss of growth, the splendor of beauty,
    For yesterday is but a dream and tomorrow is only a vision,
    But today well spent makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
    and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
    Look well, therefore, to this day.
    Such is the salutation to the dawn.

    Islamic Prayer of Peace

    Oh God,
    You are peace.
    From you comes peace,
    To you returns peace.
    Revive us with a salutation of peace,
    And lead us to your abode of peace.

    Jain Prayer for Peace

    Lead me from Death to Life, from Falsehood to Truth.
    Lead me from Despair to Hope, from Fear to Trust.
    Lead me from Hate to Love, from War to Peace.
    Let Peace fill our Heart, our World, our Universe.

    Traditional Buddhist Blessing and Healing Chant

    Just as the soft rains fill the streams,
    pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
    so may the power of every moment of your goodness
  • flow forth to awaken and heal all beings,
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    Those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.

    By the power of every moment of your goodness
    May your heart's wishes be soon fulfilled
    as completely shining as the bright full moon,
    as magically as by a wish-fulfilling gem.

    By the power of every moment of your goodness
    May all dangers be averted and all disease be gone.
    May no obstacle come across your way.
    May you enjoy fulfillment and long life.

    For all in whose heart dwells respect,
    who follow the wisdom and compassion, of the Way,
    May your life prosper in the four blessings
    of old age, beauty, happiness and strength.

Published On: May 10, 2007