It’s December, a month where many of us celebrate spiritual and religious holidays, like Hanukkah and Christmas. It’s also the last month of the year, which lends itself to reflection as we move into the new year.
With this in mind, I felt it was appropriate to spend this month talking about spirituality: what it is and how having a spiritual practice is essential for overall health and wellness.
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, good health is more than just eating well. In order to truly be well, we have to take our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health into consideration.
So What is Spirituality?
There are many definitions and ideas about what spirituality is, but I want to share some of my beliefs and thoughts around what it is and how it can impact your life.
My definition of spirituality is greatly influenced by Dr. Christina Puchalski. She is the director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health and has a beautiful way of describing what spirituality is. She defines it as…
“The aspect of humanity that refers to the way humans seek and express meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connectedness to the self, others, nature, and to something significant or sacred.”
I believe spirituality is also a sense of connection with a higher self, a higher purpose, The Divine, or God. It is a connection to something bigger than ourselves that is not seen but can be felt. This connection helps us to uncover deeper meaning and purpose in our lives, something we all need and long for.
This need and longing is one of the reasons religion was created. It’s one way we can connect to something greater than ourselves. However, you don’t need to be religious to be a spiritual person or to have a spiritual practice.
While many religions are rooted in spiritual ideas and a belief in something bigger than ourselves as a governing force in our lives, being a spiritual person is simply connecting deeply with yourself. This connection will influence how you connect with others, your connection with nature, and your connection with God or The Divine.
Spirituality can have a really important role in our lives, creating space for self-reflection and deep connection. This self-reflection and connection can occur through more well-known and conventional ways, like prayer or going to a temple, but it can also occur through less obvious means, like meditation, taking a walk in nature, sitting around a campfire, or moving through yoga asanas.
We all have the ability to connect to a deeper meaning and purpose and have an experience that transcends the physical body, creating a sense of deep connection with a higher source.
Studies have shown that individuals with a spiritual practice who are connected to a higher sense of purpose through meditation and prayer, experience several positive health outcomes, including better quality of life than those without a spiritual or religious connection. I also find that many of my patients that have a spiritual practice are more positive when dealing with challenging health concerns. They have a greater sense of peace, gratitude, and acceptance, all of which can have a direct and positive impact on their overall health and well-being.
Good health is not just physical, and spirituality is a key part of our health and well-being. I’m really excited to dig into this topic with you this month. Also, having been a very spiritual person my whole life, this topic is very important to me, so I’ll be sharing my own spiritual practice with you in the next blog to help get you started if this concept is new to you.
To close, I want to share one of my favorite quotes with you because I believe it highlights many of the points I am sharing with you in this post and those I plan to share in posts to come – having a spiritual practice helps you to develop a greater sense of trust, belief, courage, and faith, so you are better able to face the daily challenges of life, including those involving your physical health.
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” – Thomas Merton