Are you finding as much purpose and meaning as you’d like?
Research shows that there are health benefits to living a Spiritual Life. Psychology and researcher Lisa Miller, author of The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and our Quest for an Inspired Life says that even though we are aware of the importance of our physical and mental health, our spiritual health is still absent in the conversation. Lisa Miller is a Ph.D. from Columbia University and has spent 20 years studying the relationship between spirituality and depression.
She blends research, philosophy, and personal experience to offer powerful evidence that by acknowledging the soul, we heal ourselves. In a clinical study, clinically depressed women and non-depressed women, along with their children and grandchildren were asked “ How important is spirituality to you?” They were then given an MRI scan and the study showed that highly spiritual people’s brains were healthier and more robust. Their brains were thicker and stronger in exactly the same regions that weaken and wither in depressed brains.
Developing faith and working to overcome faithlessness helps to cultivate an awakened brain. Spiritual connection matters and there are many ways to connect. Through practice spirituality can grow, whether it’s focusing on gratitude, meditation, walks in nature, long reflection or deep important conversations with the people you love the most, church attendance, inspirational music or reading and/or prayer, etc. When you know you’re not alone and you have a setback, you can recognize that you are loved, held, and guided. You even become curious about life and start watching for miracles and for answers and solutions to current circumstances. Developing and growing spiritually supports better mental and physical health.
In Dr. Miller's book, she records a study done at North Hawaii Community Hospital. Healers from the island of Hawaii each selected a person with whom they felt a compassionate bond. These people were placed in MRI scanners, and the healers were in a separate room. No sensory contact. But when the healers sent healing intentions to their subjects at randomly selected intervals, 10 times out of 11, at that exact moment, specific areas of the receivers’ brains were activated. The probability of that happening by chance is less than 1 in 10,000. We are deeply connected to one another energetically and spiritually.
Spiritual perspective gives us an opportunity to recognize and offer gratitude for where we are in our lives. There is purpose in living, loving, and even in suffering. A higher perspective helps us see beyond the misery and helps the mind understand that what we are experiencing in life brings personal growth and progress. These deep levels of belief and faith help us find greater meaning in relationships and everyday living. These faith-stimulating connections to God, angels, a high power, or whomever you choose to embrace, help stimulate the pituitary gland which is known as the master gland. Spiritual practices energize our immune system and release feel-good feelings of feeling loved and more whole.
This THANKSGIVING SEASON I encourage you to hold on to your personal “spiritual” beliefs and practices and to hold onto what helps you connect spiritually. Let’s continue to be anchored in HOPE and GRATITUDE and collectively hold onto a solid belief, even faith in a higher power. There are health benefits to holding a sacred space for ourselves and others by living a spiritual life. We CAN feel his healing powers. It is his love and the awareness of our soul and our purpose here that brings meaning into our lives and heals us.