Spirituality and Religion

Spirituality and Religion

Spirituality and Religion
How does spiritual or religious beliefs affect one's overall wellness? Religious or spiritual beliefs can lend meaning to one's life and aid in recovery from illnesses, grief and depression. Drawing on prayer, meditation, nature or spiritual texts can increase one's religious or spiritual health.

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    Illness often causes people to question their spirituality. A common feeling in these moments is some level of disillusionment and betrayal. Giving voice to these feelings of outrage may be helpful, but you may find it difficult to find someone who is able to hear your anger without trying to talk you out of it. Your pain may frighten them, and they may shush you, tell you there’s a plan to the world that we cannot ever understand.

    They may be right, but their reactions may not be helpful to you in the moment. A professional healthcare chaplain or another trusted counselor can be a useful confidant in times like this: chaplains understand the position of faith from which you have begun, and are prepared to bear witness to your anger. They will not try to dissuade you from feeling your feelings, but they will accompany you through them.

    While some find the experience of spiritual distress disorienting, and cause to doubt that there is any goodness in the world, you may find yourself experiencing the exact opposite things.

    Amazingly, even if you never described yourself as particularly religious -- even if you never once considered the presence or absence or temperament of God -- you may find yourself thinking thoughts about God pretty frequently these days.

    Perhaps this experience is, for you, definitive proof of the nonexistence of God. Perhaps it is just as definitive proof of God’s existence and benevolence. Perhaps, however, this experience raises more questions than answers. Perhaps you’re furious at God and wondering if you are even allowed to be furious at God.

    If you are a member of a particular faith community, you may find a conversation with your religious leader to be helpful during this time. He or she can help you understand exactly what your tradition teaches about how one should deal with anger towards God.
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    Spiritual well-being affects overall quality of life, which includes the following areas:
    • physical well-being: functional ability, strength/fatigue, sleep/rest, overall physical health, nausea, appetite, constipation, and aches and pains
    • social well-being: family distress, roles/relationships, affection/sexual function, appearance, employment, isolation and finances
    • psychological well-being: control, anxiety, enjoyment/leisure, pain distress, happiness, fear, and cognition/attention
    • spiritual well-being: meaning of illness, uncertainty, hope, religiosity, transcendence, and positive change

    Spirituality is that part of yourself that helps you find meaning, connectedness and purpose in your life. It can include the practice of a philosophy, religion, or way of living. During difficult times, people often look for meaning and connectedness in the greater scheme of things to help them understand and cope with their experience. Serious illness can be one of those times.
     
    Research shows that spirituality is related to better health outcomes. Spirituality seems to help people cope with illness, suffering and death. Spirituality also influences end-of-life decisions. All people, with or without a connection to organized religion or any spiritual practices, seem to benefit from finding their own sense of meaning, purpose and connectedness.
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    A , Nursing, answered
    Most people do! Most of us fear the unknown and an event that we have no control over. For some, thinking about it causes anxiety and feelings that make us very uncomfortable and in general, most people don't spend time thinking about it unless they work with dying or are faced with it in some way. The issue of death and dying is not easily discussed. Our upbringing, cultural and religious teachings influence our thoughts and feelings about dying. In some cultures, discussing death or mentioning the names of the dead are bad luck or disrespectful. Often though, when faced with the possibility, people spend time coming to terms with dying and often feel like they have prepared for death and are not afraid.
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    Spiritual distress is an outcome of spiritual struggle, which is defined as having high spiritual needs and low spiritual resources with which to address those needs. Spiritual distress occurs when a person is experiencing the following:
    • struggling with such issues as the meaning of life, death, or their belief system
    • feeling angry towards God, a higher power, or the universe
    • dealing with questions about pain and suffering 
    • feeling as though one is being punished by or abandoned in the midst of their illness or pain

    Spiritual distress may come from not being able to participate in spiritual or religious activities that have been important to you. You may not feel comfortable with the changes that your chronic pain has brought to your life.

    Chronic pain is an experience not just of your body but also your mind and spirit; the three work together. By focusing on all three areas you will be able to find the best ways to manage your pain.

    If you are experiencing spiritual distress, remember that it can be an absolutely normal feeling for someone who is living with chronic pain. It is important that you find support and resources that will help you to manage and reduce your distress. If you have a spiritual or religious leader, he or she might be the person you feel most comfortable with in discussing these feelings.
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    A Social Work, answered on behalf of
    Yes. However, I would expand this to all we encounter in our lives. A truly open mind provides us with information that ultimately guides our decisions. As you might agree, our decisions create consequences. From my point of view, I prefer to have as much information when I make a decision. In addition, an open mind creates less resistance than a closed mind since you aren't in a state of struggle with the information. Less struggle equals less stress and expenditure of energy and ultimately more clarity and power within. This does not mean we don't have points of view, it just means life is a place where everyone has a point of view. Our job is not to be in a state of struggle with other's points of view or the choices they make, but in a state of awareness and acceptance allowing life's experiences to unfold for us. We can all learn from each other and lift each other. What's yours? What's might be God's point of view? What's your choice?
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    A , Mental Health, answered
    You know your life is meaningful when what you do for a living is something you could happily do for free, and it is just a bonus that you are paid to do it.  When you wake up each morning and you're excited for the day ahead. When you're favourite day of the week is a Monday. When you feel your life has purpose and you are working to fulfil your destiny.
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    A , Psychology, answered

    Religion encourages us to have only pure thoughts and do only good deeds. Need I remind you of the Ten Commandments? I personally think there needs to be an expanded set of commandments that are not quite so dictatorial and encourage us to think critically for ourselves and stay in balance. Yes, working hard, taking care of others, and trying to be kind and generous are admirable traits (along with not coveting your neighbor’s spouse), but not to the exclusion of all others. Where do we receive adequate spiritual guidance to put ourselves first and to do unto ourselves as we would do to others? Even thinking this way may feel like blasphemy.

     

    In general, the more deeply steeped you are in religious precepts or the more ingrained your training, the more you may feel the need to hold on to the nice parts of you and discard the rest for fear of not living up to spiritual ideals. Being nice exclusively is a wistful ideal, but not possible. Humans have imperfections and the model of trying to be perfect is not a healthy one. If you can tolerate the challenge, you have a better chance of overcoming perfectionism and shucking the problems you have with being overly nice and overly attached to food.
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    A , Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered
    The only safe place is eternity. The river of life flows between the banks of pleasure and pain. If you feel stuck on the bank, rejoin the flow and it will carry you beyond. Practice acceptance in place of force, letting life bring things to you and take them away again. Keep your eye on being, which is reality. Whatever comes before you, observe it for what it is. Remember, you are not what happens, no matter how intense it may be. You are the one it is happening to. When "I" is safe in its own being, the world loses all fear.
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    A , Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered
    The most constricted awareness belongs to those who do evil. Evil arises when there is a state of imbalance so severe that a person no longer values anyone else. Thus evil is an extreme form of egotism. There is only my truth and my way -- such is the dogma of the fanatic, or the terrorist. But the abusive husband, the drug dealer preying on children, the mugger and murderer all feel equally cut off and numb.
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    A , Health Education, answered

    Religious beliefs may be chosen but spirituality is inherent in everyone and everything naturally. It originates in the source of our creation and manifests through the miracle of life; acts of great compassion and altruism; marvelous creative expression; and an appreciation and gratitude for beauty and honor.

    True, some may portend to disregard spirituality such that they may proclaim not to "choose" it; but our sense of spirituality---of the desire to belong in the Universe---is preprogramed within each one of us. It is what enables us to love, to laugh, to sacrifice, and to persevere under extraordinary circumstances.

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