Now that we’ve established the fact that Religion and/or Spirituality definitely play a role in our physical well-being, let’s try to unpack what that looks like from a practical standpoint. First, let’s quickly look at what would be considered religious or spiritual. Religiosity can be defined as participation, commitment or devotion to a religious faith or religious social structure. Spirituality is more defined as the “living out” portion of the spiritual or religious belief structure a person is associated with.
The practical spiritual disciplines as they relate to the above definitions would be things like: public religious participation (e.g. church attendance), religious affiliation (e.g. organization/denomination), private religious practices (e.g. prayer, meditation, reading religious material), coping (turning to the belief system or structure for assistance), daily spiritual experiences (e.g. one’s perception of daily living). These disciplines have been shown to directly relate to life satisfaction, optimism, sense of hopefulness, meaning and purpose of life.
It is believed by many physical and mental health practitioners and researchers today that these spiritual disciplines are directly related to a person’s ability to reduce stress. In turn, this reduction in stress has a direct impact on one’s mental, emotional, and physical health. The physiology of how the mind and body react to stress is far beyond my field of expertise and would probably be boring for most of us to try and understand at this point. I think we all would agree with the well-established fact that stress in general has a negative impact on our overall health and however we can reduce stress is a positive thing. Religion and spirituality is proving to be one way that is done. There are other “supernatural” phenomena associated with physical and mental health as it relates to religion and spirituality that I will not attempt to explain in this blog. That’s a discussion for another day.
In summary, this is my experience and understanding as I’ve personally experienced it. We all have been created with an innate desire for relationships. Every person who is living and breathing has a relationship with someone or something. These relationships, whether positive or negative, influence who we are and what we believe. The conflict from the beginning of time has been whether man, in his finite wisdom, will be the center of his own life or God, in His infinite wisdom, will be the center of man’s life. I think if you take an honest look at man in general and even yourself, you will quickly deduct that man left to himself will eventually self-destruct. There is now more evidence than ever to scientifically show that a spiritual and religious relationship to our creator (religion and spirituality as so defined) has a positive impact on our physical well-being.
Again, I implore you to evaluate your personal relationship to our Creator and either enhance or begin incorporating spiritual disciplines as part of your overall journey to great health. Blessings to all – Jason Merson
Photo compliments of Harry Huang‘s Photostream