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An applied theoretical perspective.
Holistic health would not be complete without the application of spirituality. Some may argue that spirituality is the place were healing should start. The body and mind appear to heal faster when the they are at peace, relaxed, and feel connected to a power greater than the body and mind alone. Just making the decision to be more spiritual can start the process towards spirituality and give the body and mind this sense of peace. This article attempts to describe spirituality and offer suggestions on how to strengthen your spirituality. We feel that spirituality can be an important component in the healing process.
What is spirituality? The concept of spirituality may be difficult to define. In basic terms it is that we are more than just our physical bodies. We also have a spirit. Each living thing has a spirit that is part of, yet separate from the tangible matter that comprises the body. This spirit is viewed as immortal or not capable of dying. It is also capable of maintaining the same identity it had while in the live body. This spirit was created or organized into it's current form or identity by a Devine maker. Spirituality involves the application of these beliefs or concepts.
Some believe that even inorganic material may have a spirit. For example, it is not unheard of to view the earth as alive and having a spiritual component to it. When you think about the earth, it has several flowing systems (e.g., water system, molten rock system, atmosphere) just like our physical bodies (e.g., nervous system, circulatory system, respiratory system). Thus it becomes easy to see why some people can view the earth in spiritual terms as well as physical terms. Thus spirituality can include inorganic systems like the earth, the solar system and the universe. These inorganic systems were created by a Devine source.
Cars also have systems, but few people would consider a car to have a spirit. Thus man made machines could be seen as inorganic matter without spirits.
Being spiritual is the action part of spirituality. Being spiritual involves more than going to an organized religion. Many people go to organized religions without applying the principles taught. These individuals are not truly spiritual. Some religions actually prevent or inhibit spiritual growth. Religions that teach their members to hate others or judge others often can inhibit the spiritual growth of their participants. Many wars have been initiated in the name of religion. Wars are not part of spirituality unless the participants are relying on a higher power to defend themselves or their country against an evil. The starting of wars is not an indication of spirituality. Spirituality is always constructive and never destructive in relationships with others.
Sometimes, spirituality and science may appear to conflict with each other. Science deals with things we can measure such as things we taste, feel, see or smell. Some scientists may discount spirituality and equate the concept with superstition.
It is conceivable that spirits may be matter, but it is matter finer than what our current scientific instruments of detection can identify. Our spirit might be matter that is even finer than light particles. To date, no one has invented a sensor sensitive enough to measure a spirit. Just because we may not be able to measure, see or detect a spirit, does not necessarily prove that it does not exist. It was not until relatively recently that the human race could measure or detect electricity. It was even more recent that could be detected and measured. Our previous inability to detect or measure them did not cause these things to be superstition, make believe or imaginary. Nor did it cause humans not to think about them and make up theories about their nature.
Fortunately many scientists see no conflict between science and spirituality. We do not either. Our position is that truth eventually will be upheld by scientific scrutiny. As we learn more about truth, our beliefs about the truth change and we get closer to an understanding concerning the complex universe we live in. If spirituality is real, then our understanding of it is likely to increase with scientific inquiry.
Another point about spirituality is that it does not have to be synonymous with religion. It can be synonymous with religion if you want it to be, but it does not have to be. Spirituality can involve a sense of "connectiveness" to the spiritual nature of the universe. A Christian might define spirituality as the quality of their relationship with Christ. A Buddhist would have a different definition of spirituality. Even an agnostic can develop spirituality without a firm belief in Deity.
Spirituality is not a thing that you have one moment and then do not have the next. Spirituality is quantitative and one can have a small amount of spirituality or an abundance of spirituality. Every rational individual is capable of increasing their level or amount of spirituality. We believe that as you do so, you have an extra advantage in the healing process. In addition you should have more peace of mind than a person with little spirituality. Life becomes richer and more meaningful with increased spirituality.
Again, spirituality is much more than a belief or an emotion. It is a way of life; a way of looking at one's environment. It is a world view. This world view of spirituality can differ from person to person. No matter how you define spirituality, there are some common characteristics. The results of increased spirituality are a sense of well being, being self-actualized and being at peace. Being spiritual automatically reduces worry and fears. The cares of this world become insignificant when compared to the awesomeness of spiritual realities.
How does a person develop and strengthen spirituality? Developing love towards self and others is the quickest way to develop spirituality. Spirituality always includes the development of love towards others. The emotion of love is often confusing in our modern society. The Greeks have defined eight different types of love. We use one word for what the Greeks had eight words for. Love in a spiritual sense is a "pure" love. A positive feeling of concern for other's welfare. A feeling without the negative emotions of hate, envy, pride, and judgement. This pure love is not to be confused with lust, selfishness, self gratification, and other potentially harmful emotions. This feeling of pure love should motivate our behaviors into serving others and being kind. As your behaviors are more consistent with these characteristics your level of spirituality also deepens.
This service to others should not be limited to humans. It should also be a service and devotion to the maker of our spirit. This devotion involves giving up our desires and will for a greater purpose: the desire or will of the maker of our spirits. Thus we attempt to develop the same goals and purposes of our God. We become one with our God. This is the ultimate in the development of spirituality.
It is common for someone's level of spirituality to wax and wane. In other words it is not uncommon for someone to experience spiritual feelings during part of their life and then later, lose a significant amount of their spirituality. Sometimes doubt creeps in and you may question the need for spirituality. Doubt about spiritual things is good if it causes you to learn more and seek out more information. The doubt is usually then replaced with a deeper level of understanding or enhanced spirituality. One should never fear doubt. Spirituality can always be restored. It does take effort.
Cognitive dissonance is an interesting concept when applied to spirituality. Often people who attempt to be spiritual have high values. When your behaviors are consistent with your values, you feel at peace. When your behaviors become lower than your values, it creates what is called cognitive dissonance or unease. The most common method to restore a sense of harmony is to lower ones values to match ones behavior. This leads to a worsening in character and in spirituality. The preferred method to restore harmony is to raise one's behaviors to match their high values. This restores peace and usually increases spirituality.
Communication with our Deity is an important tool to develop increased spirituality. We believe that this communication should be a two way process. You may never hear a voice, but if you listen, thoughts will come to your mind and eventually you will become skilled at communicating with the maker of your spirit. As spiritual outcomes or blessings start to take place within your life, your spirituality deepens and strengthens.
Some use meditation as a way to increase spirituality. Meditation is a great way to gain peace and relaxation and a connectivity to the universe. Taking time to reflect and to ponder also has similar effects as meditation.
Reading spiritual literature is another important activity to increasing spirituality. Scriptures were written to increase spirituality. Chinese proverbs and other writings are good fountains of spiritual information. There are also numerous books available today to help in spiritual development.
Spirituality, like muscles need regular exercise to stay healthy. If you do not use your muscles, you lose strength in them. If you exercise them and use them often they become stronger. Spirituality needs to be used and exercised too. It takes a regular spiritual workout to keep your spirituality at a high level.
To strengthen your Spirituality we recommend that you daily take time to reflect, ponder and/or pray. We also recommend daily reading spiritual literature and pondering what was read. It is through this quiet time that we allow ourselves to become connected to a power greater than our own. A power even greater than the things we see around us. This power is available to us to tap into and make us stronger, healthier, and more at peace. If we are trying to heal from sickness, whether physical or emotional, spirituality can be a great tool!
Resources to learn more about Spirituality.
We encourage you to surround yourself with people of similar beliefs as yours. Religious organizations can assist in accomplishing this activity. Support groups (e.g., Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon) can also help increase spirituality and offer friends with similar experiences and purposes. Use this link to view the official web sites of several organized religions and support groups. In addition, feel free to browse our book store for books designed to increase spirituality. Working together we can make this world a more spiritual place to be. Our spiritual actions will not only make us more healthy and at peace, but also will make a difference in the world in which we live.
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