Friday, January 6, 2012

Lift your spirits

Many people feel a bit let down at this time of year.  Maybe it's all those expectations for the holiday season, along with the added stress.  Sometimes it just accentuates any feelings of sadness or loneliness.  Whatever the case may be, you are not alone and there is help out there.  You don't even need a prescription.  It's a new day and the answer be in your spirituality.

Spirituality is a term that is tossed around quite a bit these days.  Many people are not clear on the definition of spirituality.  Even if you check the Merriam-Webster dictionary  you will find that there are a few different interpretations. The definition that makes the most sense to me is, "Joined in spirit".   There have been several studies that have proven both physical as well as mental benefits to including spirituality in your life.

The term "joined in spirit" may seem confusing.  I know it was confusing to me, learning as a child and even as an adult I wasn't completely clear on that.  But one day I saw a video that illustrated perfectly how we are all one in God- the universe- or whatever your perception may be.  There were thousands of birds flying in formation- creating designs in the sky.  Like a perfect ballet. To me- I realized that we are all part of God- all living creatures- all connected.  Please see this video and tell me if you don't feel it.

Researchers at the University of Manitoba examined a link between religious attendance and attempted suicide.   This health survey was based on 37,000 respondents. Dan Rasic, the studies principal author found that, "Those who attended church at least once a year had decreased rates of suicide."   Some believe that the attendance of these services enable people to feel as though they are part of the community as less isolated. Some believe there is a powerful synergy when groups of people gather and pray.

Although people have found comfort in prayer and other spiritual for thousands of years, the scientific proof is relatively new.. Based on research dating back several years, it's been found that spirituality can give hope, act as an antidepressant and even help to cure serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer.   In fact, researchers have found that spirituality and the practice of religion may slow the ravages of Alzheimer's disease.  These findings were actually presented at The American Academy of Neurology 57th Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Florida back in April of 2005.

In May of 2004 the National Center for Health released findings of a survey involving 31,000 people using prayer and complementary and alternative therapies.  Prayer was the most popular of all the "therapies".  The results were astounding. Catherine Stoney, Ph.D, a Program Officer at the NCAAM noted, "There is already some preliminary evidence that religious affiliation and religious practices are associated with health and mortality- in other words, with better health and longer life."
Many researchers agree that there are strong connections between the mind, the spirit and the body.  Spirituality doesn't have to include going to a church or other houses of worship.  Spirituality can be found in many ways.  Some find spirituality in meditation, yoga or even a support group.

Spirituality is a very individual, personal endeavor- but definitely one worth pursuing.

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