As evidence that the health paradigm is changing, the medical community is starting to professionally recognize the impact spirituality plays in both prevention of and one’s ability to heal from illness and chronic disease. It can no longer be ignored that both religion and spirituality shape life’s meaning for many people. Inside that meaning lies faith, which brings about trust, positive thinking, hope, power and an expanded belief of what’s possible. Many experts have focused their life’s work on identifying how negative belief patterns and emotions can manifest or make one more susceptible to certain health conditions. Developing and nurturing spiritual values and a deeper sense of purpose can not only keep you healthy and well, but also provide the tools to grow, develop and heal when illness arises.
Spirituality and religion are not synonymous. Although organized religion can provide a spiritual pathway that works for many, it is not the only expression of a spiritual life. The meaning of spirituality encompasses something much grander and is the foundation of each individual’s beliefs about life, their purpose, how they relate to themselves and others, how they handle hardship and challenges, and from where they generate peace, happiness and the desire to live. Spiritual values include presence, simplicity, acceptance, compassion, self-awareness and peace. These values exist in all spiritual pathways and contribute to not only a healthy outlook on life, but also a healthy body capable of avoiding and healing from almost any illness.
Numerous research studies are finding the those who have spiritual practices tend to live longer and that positive beliefs and expectations can influence health outcomes. It’s being noted that those who are spiritual tend to have a more positive outlook on life and a better quality of life. Spirituality helps people cope with disease and face the possibility of death with peace. By cultivating a spiritual life, people are able to gain strength, hope and the ability to counteract stress, which most experts believe is at the root of almost all diseases, illnesses and health conditions. Those with a spiritual perspective also tend to believe that disease and illness are the manifestation of negative emotions and thought patterns. Feelings like resentment, criticism, guilt and fear can all lead to an imbalance in the mind and body, creating physical illness that brings with it an opportunity for self-growth. Someone who takes a spiritual approach to illness will often heal once these negative deep-rooted beliefs are addressed and overcome.
These days doctors are being encouraged to honor the spiritual beliefs of their patients and recognize both the mental and physical benefits of supporting one’s healing process from a holistic viewpoint. By being compassionate, present and listening, while also obtaining a spiritual history to better guide them successfully on a path to recovery, doctors have the opportunity to play an even bigger role in healing their patients. For those who would like to develop their spiritual side and improve their overall health and ability to overcome health challenges, I’ve listed a few practices that can support you in gaining insight into your own spiritual values, blockages (which may be preventing you from healing) and purpose in life.
Ten-20 minutes of daily meditation, 1-2 times a day, can be beneficial for reducing stress and finding inner peace. Besides providing a quiet state of mind in which insights can arise to support you in developing your own sense of spirituality, studies have shown that meditation can be beneficial for chronic pain, anxiety, hostility, depression, surgery recovery, and a host of other health conditions.
Journaling is a great way to self-reflect and record your insights, learnings and questions while moving along your spiritual path. It’s also a great way to remind yourself of what you are grateful for, which is effective for generating both happiness and a positive state of mind. You can also write down intentions/goals, affirmations, and anything else that supports and reminds you of your personal values and life’s purpose.
Joining up with other like-minded spiritual people is a great way to learn about yourself and gain support for the challenges that can arise when we go deeper within ourselves. By connecting with others we recognize the similarities within each of us and the love that is the foundation of all of humanity. There are many communities online and in person that are committed to a range of spiritual practices, offering the opportunity to find something that resonates with you personally.
Giving to others without expectation for something in return is one of the highest spiritual values and access points to true fulfillment. Not only does this relieve you from the obsessive self-focused thought patterns that occupy most of our daily lives, it also provides an opportunity to practice compassion and generosity, while reaping the spiritual rewards of making a difference in the life of another.
 Pubmed.gov "The role of spirituality in healthcare," C. Puchalski. Proceedings (Baylor University Medical Center). October 2001: 14(4): 352–357
 (n.d.) Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00035/NSECTIONGROUP=2
Published On: May 12, 2013