Let’s get one thing straight. Although religion or faith is connected to spirituality, spirituality is beyond religion. They are two different things. The aim of all religions is to attain that spiritual mental state. Awareness of the common spirit that resides in all creations on earth is spirituality. Humans are the only creatures that can achieve this state of mind. However, the certain illusions delude us and we get caught up in life, without realizing the true meaning and purpose of our existence.
Ancient Hindu seers called this illusion as ‘maya’. Spirituality helps unveil this blanket of maya and allows us to see things in life as they really are. False assumptions and incorrect perceptions mislead us and cause unhappiness. Spirituality has healing powers and can transform our life. Here are some major benefits of spirituality.
1. Improve Mental And Physical Health
Spirituality has a positive impact on our mental and physical health. People who are spiritual tend to be happy and content with what they have. This sense of well-being contributes to physical health too. When your mind is under your control, you can easily control the body also. For many years, psychologists kept religion and spirituality away from clinical practice. That was probably because of some religious aversion among early pioneers of psychology, or maybe because psychologists lacked training in this area. Today, there are many scientifically based reasons to practice spirituality for overall health. Emerging research is showing that spiritually integrated approaches to treatment are as effective as other treatments.1
2. Learn To Be Compassionate
Compassion is a great asset an individual can possess. The word compassion means “to suffer with”.2 Understanding others’ pain and empathizing with them connects the spirit in us. Along with this virtue, tolerance also plays a key role. Once you learn to accept others, tolerance automatically comes. In today’s world, it is the lack of compassion and tolerance that has caused the mindless murder of millions of people. Spirituality teaches us to be compassionate and tolerant.
3. Overcome Fear Of Death
The greatest fear a person can overcome is the fear of death. This is the ultimate fear in all creatures. This fear is good in a way because it prevents us from doing dangerous acts that may kill us. However, with the deep sense of understanding that spirituality gives us, we realize that death merely occurs to the body and the ‘real self’ is immortal. Spirituality enlightens and instills wisdom in us. A specific study showed that among 90 HIV-positive patients, those who were spiritually active had less fear of death.3 Spirituality helps us accept that death is an inseparable part of life and gives us the strength to deal with it.
4. Prevent Depression, Promote Happiness
Like Bob Marley’s song ‘Don’t worry, be happy’, spirituality can help you transcend your worries. It may not make your problems vanish overnight, but it certainly can help you deal with them. Spirituality can heal certain mental conditions such as trauma and depression. In fact, clarity of thoughts achieved through spiritual practices can help you look at a problem from a whole new perspective and offer effective solutions.
Specific spiritual practices have been shown to improve health outcomes. Meditating for about 10-20 minutes twice a day is beneficial in treating clinical depression.4 Spirituality has a cumulative impact on health throughout our lives and we may realize its true potential only later in life. Research has shown that spiritual practices contribute positively to healthier living and happier lives.5
5. Protection From Stress
Stress affects all of us and has an adverse impact on our mental and physical health. Many diseases actually arise from the mind due to stress and later manifest as a physical ailment. These diseases are called as psychosomatic diseases. Though hard to believe, it is true that numerous diseases are caused due to stress. Research shows that spirituality is an excellent tool to combat stress and achieve a relaxed state of mind.6 Religious congregations become social circles that provide support and reduce stress in people’s lives. Periods of rest and respite from work and the demands of daily life serve to reduce stress, a fundamental cause of chronic diseases that is still the primary causes of death in Western society. Studies show that the earlier the age at entry into the religious practice, the lower the mortality rate from cardiovascular disease.7
6. Achieve Success
Success is usually measured by materialistic things and often equated with money. Your income, standard of living, and your position in personal and professional lives are attributed to success. Despite having all that and more, if you are unable to be happy and content, then success means nothing. Spirituality helps you achieve a balanced state of mind and provides clarity in thoughts. People who incorporate spiritual practices succeed more easily. The can also better equipped to handle failures and continue their effort instead of giving up. True success is when your inner self is undisturbed by external consequences. Once you achieve that inner peace, then no worldly incident can disturb that tranquility. Now, that is real success.
|↑1||Pargament, K. I. “What role do religion and spirituality play in mental health.” Five questions for psychology of religion and spirituality. The American Psychological Association (2013).|
|↑2, ↑3||Puchalski, Christina M. “The role of spirituality in health care.” In Baylor University Medical Center. Proceedings, vol. 14, no. 4, p. 352. Baylor University Medical Center, 2001.|
|↑4, ↑6||Puchalski, Christina M. “The role of spirituality in health care.” In Baylor University Medical Center. Proceedings, vol. 14, no. 4, p. 352. Baylor University Medical Center, 2001.|
|↑5, ↑7||Idler, Ellen. “The psychological and physical benefits of spiritual/religious practices.” Spirituality in Higher Education Newsletter 4, no. 2 (2008): 1-5.|