Psychological & Health Benefits of Spiritual Practices

Dr. Purushothaman
May 17, 2020

From time immemorial religion, spirituality, philosophy, psychology, and related subjects are of great concern to all people all over the world. About 80% of research in relation to religion and spirituality includes the study of mental health also. Spirituality can perhaps help you connect with your divine self. In addition to endowing meaning to your life, it has the potential to improve mental, physical, and emotional well-being as well. It has been a source of relief and comfort from various challenging issues for thousands of years.

This is not done through prayer beads or chant books necessarily, but can be any activity like gardening, running, baking, knitting, meditating, yoga or tai chi, as long as it is a practice that contributes to your ever-unfolding life on the planet. Research has shown that those who indulge in religious or spiritual practices add quality and even years to their lives. People who use their spirituality to cope with life gain many benefits to their health and well-being. So, what are these advantages exactly?

The psychological benefits of spiritual practices:

1. Restoring a lost sense of purpose

 Finding meaning results in a healthier us and we feel more fulfilled. Cultivating your spirituality may help discover what is most meaningful in your life. With religious and spiritual practices, you get fully immersed and engaged in an activity in a way where you feel challenged, but also relaxed. It leads to self-reflection and you believe what you do is worthwhile. You understand where your passions lie and work towards enhancing it.

2. Preventing the risk of stress, anxiety and depression

 A less tangible way, but nonetheless useful is to find stress relief through spirituality. It helps you lose focus on the unimportant things and eradicate stress, anxiety and depression. Strong religious correlations enable you to stop controlling things all by yourself and focus on the greater good. You realize you are not responsible for everything that happens in your and other's life.

3. Enhances your ability to think positively and clearly

 Usage of spiritual tools lets you gain access to positive thinking. Having a faithful outlook on life can be the right crutch for those struggling with negativity and broaden their perspective on life. It helps you switch from unhealthy ways of living in ways of presence and simplicity. When someone has this mind-set, following positive affirmations and looking on the bright side can be really easy.

4. Boosts a person’s self-image

 Almost all of us experience the consequences of unresolved trauma. It causes a great deal on our self-image and confidence. It is of paramount importance to protect your self-esteem and religious and spiritual practices help you attain that. It is the palpable sense of pure conviction that cannot be affected by internal or external fluctuations. It pushes you towards self-responsibility rather than allowing you to resort to passivity, alibiing, or blaming.

5. Inspires appreciation and awareness of the physical environment

The impact of spirituality and religiosity stretch further on making oneself aware of his surroundings and make him more responsible towards it. You understand the need for every part of nature and are more vigilant towards its preservation. Similarly, it evokes a sense of social responsibility towards other citizens and the people around you. Such practices help you maintain love and respect within your society.

The physical benefits of spiritual practices:

1. Improves your immune system

Our body is an intelligent system. It knows how to heal itself. However, your thoughts and actions can block this flow of healing and further create an imbalance. Meditation and mindfulness help you trigger the body’s healing abilities and affect the brain and immune functions making it stronger. It is seen in many cases that those with a strong faith could actually work on themselves and increase the body’s white blood cells.

2. Lower blood pressure & cardiac problems

 Another benefit of religion and spirituality is that it may help to keep your blood pressure under control. It brings you calmness and helps delay the damaging effects of hypertension. It was also marked in many cases that people had lower levels of cortisol as well, which is the biggest risk factor when it comes to the development of heart disease and stroke.

3. Saves one from addiction

 Many of the spiritual practices help people to recover from various types of addictions, due to a spiritual element in recovery. Focusing on a higher power can be challenging if you are addicted to alcohol or drugs. However, these practices can help you get in touch with your own moral compass as a lead for how to live your life.

4. Lowers the risks of cancer-related problems

 Many patients with cancer rely on religious or spiritual beliefs and practices to help them fight their disease. With a renewed willpower they obtain from faith, they have a greater ability to perform their daily tasks and show reduced physical symptoms of cancer. Your mind-set plays an important part in impacting your health and such practices improve the quality of life if not necessarily extend it.

5. Provides better sleeping patterns

 A growing number of neuroscientists also support the theory that religious and spiritual practices help in the betterment of sleeping patterns. Making a connection with your inner spirit invites relaxation and peace into our brain and encourages a good night’s sleep. Basic breathing exercises and other meditative & relaxation practices help you sink into an ever-growing sense of peace.

Defining religious practices and spirituality in a concrete way may be difficult. It is also subjective and every individual defines it in their own unique way. However, its results are universal and quite measurable. The need to find and reach out to some sort of guidance for navigating life is instinctive. And religious or spiritual practices fulfil this purpose in every way. So, be in touch the sacred in yourself and use every occasion towards psychological and physical well-being. Really a true psychology is true spirituality and both are complimentary for our total wellbeing. Therefore, let's activate our psychological skills for our spiritual journey

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