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 , Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered
    The sixth secret is about the choiceless life. Since we all take our choices very seriously, adopting this new attitude requires a major shift. Today, you can begin with a simple exercise. Sit down for a few minutes and reassess some of the important choices you've made over the years. Take a piece of paper and make two columns labeled "Good Choice" and "Bad Choice."

    Under each column, list at least five choices relating to those moments you consider the most memorable and decisive in your life so far -- you'll probably start with turning points shared by most people (the serious relationship that collapsed, the job you turned down or didn't get, the decision to pick one profession or another), but be sure to include private choices that no one knows about except you (the fight you walked away from, the person you were too afraid to confront, the courageous moment when you overcame a deep fear).

    Once you have your list, think of at least one good thing that came out of the bad choices and one bad thing that came out of the good choices. This is an exercise in breaking down labels, getting more in touch with how flexible reality really is. If you pay attention, you may be able to see that not one but many good things came from your bad decisions while many bad ones are tangled up in your good decisions. For example, you might have a wonderful job but wound up in a terrible relationship at work or crashed your car while commuting. You might love being a mother but know that it has drastically curtailed your personal freedom. You may be single and very happy at how much you've grown on your own, yet you have also missed the growth that comes from being married to someone you deeply love.

    No single decision you ever made has led in a straight line to where you find yourself now. You peeked down some roads and took a few steps before turning back. You followed some roads that came to a dead end and others that got lost at too many intersections. Ultimately, all roads are connected to all other roads. So breakout of the mindset that your life consists of good and bad choices that set your destiny on an unswerving course. Your life is the product of your awareness. Every choice follows from that, and so does every step of growth.
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    A , Alternative & Complementary Medicine, answered
    In India it has been taught for centuries that the soul has two faces. One face is turned toward God and knows itself as being made of the same holy essence. The other face is turned toward creation, and although it knows itself as divine, it can experience birth and death. The eternal face is Atman; the face that accepts birth is Jiva.

    Although they are both aspects of your soul, without Jiva you would never have left God and eternity to enter your body. Without Atman you would never know that something sacred lies behind the mask of the material world. I often marvel at the ingenuity of grace, which contains infinity in the finite, bliss inside pain, clarity despite the fog, love despite conflict. This is God's magic act, to make us so that we will be both born and undying.

    Affirm today that you have seen through the illusion. The magic has entertained you enormously, but now you've seen how the trick works. In the end, once Jiva has gained every drop of spirit that the world has to offer, the division is no more. Jiva merges into Atman. The soul has only one face, again and forever.
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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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    A , Health Education, answered
    Biologists, psychologists and social scientists have long tried to define us exclusively through only three instincts. They have given them different names, but with varying emphasis have agreed that the three basic instincts are survival, the drive toward self-assertion and power, and the sexual urge. These are the instincts that tie us to our animal past. The Fourth Instinct is what drives us to expand the boundaries of our caring to include our communities and the world around us. Empathy is not a quaint behavior trotted out during intermittent visits to a food bank or during a TV telethon. Instead, it lies at the very core of human existence.

    Only when we awaken to our Fourth Instinct, the instinct that links us to our future, do we take the next step in our evolution, toward an understanding of life's true meaning. The Fourth Instinct serves as our "highest common denominator," enabling us to overcome isolation and achieve community. It leads us to inner peace and outer harmony, reconciling our first three instincts with our greater purpose. To follow the Fourth Instinct is to obey the law of human development. It is a universal law, but it expresses itself differently in each individual. Indeed, there are as many paths to wholeness as there are those who would walk them, threads through the labyrinth of life that we can follow to the center of ourselves and of all existence.

    The charge of our Fourth Instinct is to move us from the tyranny of our fight-or-flight mechanism to the liberation of a practical spirituality that transforms our everyday life. And when we choose to evolve, when we choose to listen to the Fourth Instinct and live under its reign, we will change our lives and the world.
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    A , Integrative Medicine, answered

    In my experience, my belief systems have been, and are, like the shell of an egg.  Without its shell, a chick would be an amorphous blob and would die.  Like the shell, our old belief systems gave us direction, form, and protection when it was needed.  The time comes, however, when the chick grows too big for the shell.  At that time, the shell ends its role of being life-giving.  Its last beneficial role is to become something that the chick has to struggle against, giving the chick life and definition.  In fact, if one helps the chick out of the shell so that it has no struggle, it will die. 

     

    In the same way, the struggle of “breaking out of the shell” of our old beliefs helps us to define ourselves and propels us forward.  Although our new beliefs give us wonderful room to grow when we first break out of the shell, it is wonderfully humbling and freeing to remember that even these new beliefs will one day be outgrown.  Remembering this can help to keep us from judging the beliefs of others - reminding us that no one and no one’s beliefs are better than any other.  They are simply a preference that may fit us better at this time.  In fact, that we sometimes create situations that are painful does not mean we are evil or stupid.  It simply means that we are fully free to explore while we go on the journey of remembering who we truly are.

     

     

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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 , 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.