Spirituality and Healing
The use of prayer and other spiritual practices to improve health dates back thousands of years. The incorporation of spirituality into ancient medicine seems not to be simply because of the lack of diagnostic and therapeutic tools available during those times, but also because spirituality provided a way for doctors to approach care for fellow humans. The philosopher Maimonides wrote, "May I never see in the patient anything but a fellow creature in pain."The sentiment of this statement points to the need for humility in medicine and the willingness for doctors to be equal to those they are treating. This results in the idea of medicine as a partnership, which is an ancient concept that is gaining new recognition, respect, and understanding. The acknowledgment of the influence of spirituality on healing and on the healer may help restore a balance and sense of humanity where it may be lacking in the modern practice of medicine.
What Is Mind-body Medicine?The concept of prayer and spirituality seems, in some ways, to be at the crux of mind-body medicine and how thoughts and energy may influence health and healing. Many different types of practices may help a person develop a spiritual connectedness and a balance of energy; some examples include prayer, meditation, journaling, yoga, and tai chi, among others. What all these practices seem to have in common is that they allow a person to achieve some degree of internal clarity and emotional balance with each session. The most profound effects may occur as these techniques become part of a daily routine.Prayer and other practices may be done alone or with a group or in a community. In a communal setting, prayer may help lessen feelings of isolation and strengthen feelings of connection and belonging as well as improve one's sense of personal identity and self-esteem.
What Are Prayer, Religion, and Spirituality?Spirituality and religion are not necessarily the same thing. Religion is thought to be a belief in and deference to a God or other higher being. Prayer can be thought of as an act of profound awe, respect, even love for this higher being and generally takes the form of either confession, praise, or thanksgiving.Spirituality is described as neither tangible nor material, with the spirit representing the essential nature of a person. Spirituality is thought to pertain to the ultimate meaning and purpose of life. There may be a heightened awareness of and concern for such matters when a person is ill or facing death.Prayer is often used in a religious context to connect to one's own spirit, to spiritual affairs, and to God or another supernatural being. But it is important to point out that prayer can be practiced outside of a religious context. The connection to one's spirit and to God may occur through processes other than prayer, such as those mentioned above, like meditation, yoga, tai chi, and journal writing.
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