Spirituality Linked to Wellness

The Rev. Dr. Bonnie Orth of the Mayfield Central Presbyterian Church talks about her journey and call to the ministry.

One of the dimensions of wellness is spiritual wellness, according to the University of California, Riverside. The university’s definition of spiritual health is “the ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives.” It is a personal matter binding us to a special purpose in life, and without spiritual wellness, the individual suffers in both body and mind.

Originating in the medical wellness movement, spiritual health is considered by many health practitioners to be essential to healing. In holistic medicine, the principles of “self-responsibility” and the “whole person” of the 1970s are reigniting a public yearning for solutions to a medical crisis of spiraling health care costs.

Not only does spiritual wellness address health care costs, applying a wellness approach in both mind and body can be useful in every human endeavor. The spiritual dimension of wellness is being applied in the “helping professions” including counseling and medical arts and practices.

The National Wellness Institute devised a questionnaire to describe how much spiritual wellness is being applied to a particular approach or program:

  • Does this help people achieve their full potential?
  • Does this recognize and address the whole person?
  • Does this affirm and mobilize people’s positive qualities and strengths?

When spiritual health is neglected, individual distress and suffering occurs resulting in anger toward God, questioning the meaning of suffering or one’s own existence, conflicted beliefs, and more. Unable to find sources of personal meaning, an individual can suffer both mentally and physically.

Thomson Rivers University of Canada suggests ways to enhance spiritual wellness:

  • Be quiet and take time for yourself
  • Be open to spiritual experiences
  • Practice having an open mind
  • Be receptive to pain or times of sorrow and grief. Spirituality often allows us to cope
  • Practice forgiveness
  • Pray, meditate, or worship
  • Live with a sense of joy
  • Allow for the belief in the unexplainable

Another way to strike a balance between mind and body is through travel. When is a spiritual journey more than soul-searching? The answer is when it is coupled with a vacation to an unknown destination.

A good spiritual voyage is a trip where you meet people, learn about other cultures and learn about yourself. This brings rejuvenation to a life unfulfilled with routine, stress, and worry.

The most common form of spiritual time-out is a meditative retreat where the individual can take time to relax in a tranquil environment. By trying a new and exciting therapy method such as Bikram yoga or aromatherapy, this may prove beneficial to spiritual wellness.

Some retreats are as exotic as India’s Ananda, located in the tranquil Himalayan foothills, close to the mythological cities of Haridwar and Rishikesh, and surrounded by graceful Sal forests, overlooking the peaceful river Ganga, where guests are pampered with Ayurvedic massage and organic cuisine. Others are minimalist like Green Gulch Farm’s zendo outside San Francisco.

Different strokes are for different folks, but all strive for the same outcome – a spiritual foundation that will continue to promote mind and body wellness as the plane hits the tarmac sending the vacationer back home.

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