For some, spirituality is equated with traditional religions, for others, it may mean being at peace and harmony with humanity or with nature. Some find it through their loved ones, music or art. Others find it in their values and principles.
Although spirituality is unique to each individual, it is, in effect, the deepest part of our beliefs, the part that lets us make meaning of our lives and the world we live in. It helps us know that we have a purpose to fulfil.
(Thompson Rivers University)
Our spirituality provides us with a sense of who we are, why we are here and what is the purpose of our livers. It allows us to gain mental strength, hope, and a sense of belonging. It is about integration, unity, and harmony with others, with nature, and with the universe. Generally, spirituality is the opposite of materialism and implies a sense of connection – connection to a reality greater than perceived physical world which may include an emotional experience of religion, respect, and reverence.
Ironically, our spirituality comes into our focus mostly in times of distress, serious illness, or bereavement. We usually do not give much thought to our spiritual health. However, its impact on our lives is unavoidable. Our spiritual health is much more important than our physical health. It has a direct impact on our attitude, behaviours and feelings, including; feeling connected with others, being part of a community, having an optimistic attitude, contributing to the society, and caring for each other.
How well is your spiritual health? Let’s take a moment to reflect. Do you feel a sense of connection, worth, purpose, commitment, peace and hope? Do you have a positive outlook of life? Or, do you experience feelings of emptiness, anger, anxiety, hopelessness, apathy or animosity? These may be the signs of spiritual ill-health and may be the reason for unhappiness or dissatisfaction.
Spiritual ill-health or spiritual distress may occur when individuals are unable to find sources of meaning, hope, love, peace, comfort, strength, and connection in life, or when there is a conflict between our beliefs and what is happening in our lives. Spiritual distress can have a detrimental effect on our physical and mental health. Research and clinical observation of patients have indicated the following benefits of spiritual care and practice;
- improved self-control, self-esteem, and confidence,
- faster and easier recovery that was achieved through both promoting the healthy grieving of loss, and maximising personal potential,
- improved relationships with self, others and with the nature,
- a new sense of meaning, resulting in a reawakening of hope, peace of mind and purpose, enabling people to accept and live with problems not yet resolved.
We should not wait for illness or distress to experience spirituality, and we should not join the growing number of people who try to numb their negative feelings and emotions by using antidepressants, alcohol and drugs. We need to identify and magnify the things in our lives that give us a sense of inner peace, comfort, strength, love and connection. We need to set aside time every day to do the things that help our spiritually to develop deeper and to become stronger and healthier. These may include; praying, doing voluntary work, being grateful for what we have, meditating, singing inspirational songs, reading motivational books, playing or listening to music, taking a walk, taking children to a park, having a quiet time for thinking, doing yoga, visiting a friend or a relative, helping someone with something, playing a sport, attending a religious services, etc. etc.