Focus ~ Food ~ Fitness


SPIRITUAL HEALTH

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Why It Is Important 
To Be 
Spiritually Healthy


The human soul is the measure of health and prosperity. Therefore, when you are healthy spiritually it effects every aspect of your life. The Bible tells us that we prosper and become healthier according to the prosperity of the soul (3 John 1:2). Studies conducted in the last 20 years have found that religious or spiritual practices are associated with better health outcomes, such as increased energy, longer lifespan, better coping skills, and overall quality of life during an illness. There is clear evidence indicating that spiritual practices are associated with better health and wellbeing for many reasons, including:

Contemplative practice is good for you

Contemplative practices are activities that guide you to direct your attention to a specific focus — often an inward looking reflection or concentration on a specific belief, sensation or concept. Many spiritual traditions have a long history of using contemplative practices to increase compassion, empathy, and attention, as well as quiet the mind.
  • Meditation can induce feelings of calm and clear-headedness as well as improve concentration and attention. Brain researcher Richard Davidson’s research shows that meditation increases the brain’s grey matter density, which can reduce sensitivity to pain, enhance your immune system, help you regulate difficult emotions, and relieve stress. Mindfulness meditation in particular has been proven helpful for people with depression and anxiety, cancer, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cardiovascular disease. The Bible states that meditation on God's word will "make your way prosperous and bring about good success" (Joshua 1:8). 
  • Prayer may elicit the relaxation response, along with feelings of hope, gratitude, and compassion — all of which have a positive effect on overall wellbeing. There are several types of prayer, many of which are rooted in the belief that God has great influence over your life. This belief can provide a sense of comfort and support in difficult times. A recent study found that clinically depressed adults who believed their prayers were heard by God responded much better to treatment than those who did not believe. The prayer of faith is the most effective way of getting what you desire. Jesus said, "Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them" (Mark 11:24).
  • Journaling is another, often overlooked, contemplative practice that can help you become more aware of your inner life and feel more connected to your experience and the world around you. Studies show that writing during difficult times may help you find meaning in life’s challenges and become more resilient in the face of obstacles. It will also help you to focus on the vision you have for your life. Part of that vision should be to live a long and healthy life. In the Old Testament book of Habakkuk is says, "Write down the vision and make it plain, that he may run who reads it" (2:2). Writing things down 'plainly and clearly' helps you fulfil your dreams.
A spiritual community can improve your life

Many spiritual traditions encourage participation in a community. Spiritual fellowship, such as attending Church or a Bible Study Group, can be sources of social support which may provide a sense of belonging, security, and community. Strong relationships have been proven to increase wellbeing and bolster life expectancy, which is perhaps why one study found a strong association between Church attendance and improved health, mood, and wellbeing.

Spiritual strength can help you overcome hardships

Dr. Steven Southwick’s book, Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges, describes how some people overcome trauma — such as abduction, war, and imprisonment — by seeking comfort in spirituality or religion. He gives examples where spiritual people find ways to “meet the challenge and continue with purposeful lives…they bounce back and carry on.”

Having a strong spiritual outlook may help you find meaning in life’s difficult circumstances. Southwick describes the story of a woman who overcame the post-traumatic stress following an abduction and rape by believing that her trauma “served as a platform for her personal development, forcing her to evaluate her life and gradually change it for the better. She credits her ability to move forward with her life…to her dedication to God.”

Spiritual people make healthier choices

Adhering to a particular faith or spiritual tradition may bring an indirect health benefit because many traditions have rules about treating the body with kindness and avoiding unhealthy behaviours. Research shows that perhaps because of these tenets, people who practice a religion or faith tradition are less likely to smoke or drink, commit a crime, or become involved in violent activity, and they are more likely to engage in preventative habits like wearing seat-belts and taking vitamins. Your physical health is an important part of making your life count. In this regard, making the right choices is paramount.

Spirituality may help you live longer

An exhaustive review that compared spirituality and religiousness to other health interventions found that people with a strong spiritual life had an 18% reduction in mortality. Giancarlo Lucchetti, lead author of the study, calculates that the life-lengthening benefits of spirituality can be compared to eating a high amount of fruits and vegetables or taking blood pressure medication. Although some researchers have suggested that the extent of spirituality’s benefit on health is exaggerated, most researchers agree there is a positive relationship between religious and spiritual practices and better health outcomes. The apostle Paul told the church in Rome to offer their bodies as "living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God" - as an act of worship (Romans 12:1). He also stated that the body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:19). When you take care of your body you take care of your spiritual life.

Forgiveness is good medicine

Letting go of blame and negative feelings after a hurtful incident is a practice that is reflected by a number of spiritual traditions, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism. Modern science shows the health benefits of forgiveness are numerous: better immune function, longer lifespan, lowered blood pressure, improved cardiovascular health, and fewer feelings of anger or hurt. In Matthew 6:14 Jesus said, "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you." But you also need to forgive yourself. Forgiveness is the key that open the prison door. Nothing secures 'inner freedom' like forgiveness. Once you forgive, you let loose everything that binds you and you become happier, less stressed and find peace. This is good medicine!

HOW SPIRITUALLY HEALTHY ARE YOU?
Spiritually Healthy Quiz

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