Spirituality and Health. Is There a Connection?
Forgive me a moment while I get a little reflective.
Whether you call it spirituality, attitude, attention to self, or any other term, I suggest it’s all the same thing. For the purposes of this post, when I say spirituality, feel free to substitute your preferred phrase. I think a lot gets lost when we focus on specific words without taking the intended meaning into account.
For the past several years, I’ve made it a point to avoid discussing Spirituality here on msquill. The reasons for that have more to do with general opinion, and less to do with my own beliefs. It’s been my experience that people tend to get uncomfortable, and even a little angry when you tell them health and spirituality are linked. But, I believe they are.
I believe the two are inseparably linked. You can’t have true health without some sort of spirituality. By spirituality, I don’t mean religion. Religion is a man-made institution, while Spirituality is the study and recognition of the forces of the universe. No matter what you call those forces. Before you write and tell me that YOUR religion is different, that your religion was created by God, I will offer an explanation of my point. Every single religion out there can be traced back to creation by a human. Every religious book ever in existence was written by a human (or several humans). Those humans may believe they were inspired or called by God/Spirit/Whatever they call it, and they very may well have been. But, the religion and the books were created, and subsequently edited and changed, by human hands. I believe that every religion that has ever existed has a measure of Truth within. I also believe that every religion that has ever existed has a measure of human corruption within. Personally, I look to all religions and to find Truth. I believe that where the various man-made religions overlap and agree is where you’ll find the Truth about Spirit/God.
That said, connection with Spirit, and connection with one’s soul is an important aspect to healing the body. And, I believe, that healing the body is an important aspect of caring for one’s soul and spirituality. Soul struggles do sometimes come out as physical illnesses, and physical illnesses effect the energy of the body, and the connection with the soul and with Spirit.
About 20 years ago, I read a book during a Unity Sunday school teacher’s retreat that explained the metaphysical connection between various common illnesses and the message or condition of the soul. While I don’t remember the name or author of the book, its words hit home with me. At the time, my asthma was almost disabling. I was medicated with the strongest meds of the time, in the highest dosages I could take, and still found very little relief. Even with daily prednisone therapy and inhaled steroids, I still needed to use SVN treatments every 6 -8 hours. I was looking for answers and a path to healing when someone handed me that book. The chapter on asthma talked about holding back, not speaking your mind, and being afraid to walk your personal path fully. I didn’t need to examine myself very closely to understand that those things were true for me. In fact, those same issues were why I had attended the teacher’s retreat to begin with. I knew what my path should be, knew what I wanted and knew the “right” thing for me, but I was afraid to take the steps necessary to walk that path. I kept my thoughts and desires to myself and did what others thought I “should” do, instead of living my own Truth. I’d like to say that I left that retreat, changed my life and my asthma cleared up. But, the truth is not so simple. I went home from the retreat and announced my intention to live my own Truth, but when I encountered strong resistance from those close to me I backed off. Fear is a powerful energy.
Fast forward to today. I am healthier than I ever have been. The asthma is incredibly improved– This past weekend I went for a 3 mile hike, up a mountain and didn’t realize until the next day that I didn’t take my inhaler with me. In fact, I hadn’t needed it in 2 days. That’s huge progress for me. The MS is under control and I can do things again. What’s the connection to spirituality? I’m more in tune with myself and feel more connected to Spirit and nature. My journey back to health was, and continues to be, grounded in my spirituality. For me, they are one in the same. Part of that comes from my definition of the word “health.”
Health is not only the absence of disease or illness. Health is body, mind and soul working together to achieve the greatest good of the person in this life. I believe that none of us are “meant” to suffer illness; each person is “meant” to be whole, healthy, and fulfilled. If you look at the research in the area of connection between body and mind, you find that science has confirmed the notion of “where the mind goes, the body will follow.” A few weeks ago I talked about how attitude effects healing, and how the attitudes and beliefs of a person can effect their body. This is the mind/body connection I’m talking about.
My reason for having this conversation now, is that I feel Spirituality and the mind/body connection are important parts of healing, and I have been neglecting that aspect here. I wish to remedy that. Whatever your path to healing, whatever your spiritual or religious beliefs, don’t neglect the connections between your soul, your mind, and your body. That connection is important, and could be the difference between finding healing, or continuing to search for answers.