Spirituality of Health
The seventh building block of health
By Vince Methot, DC Student
There are seven categories in which all factors that influence health can be included. This set of seven I call the ‘fundamentals of health’. You can find the basic overview of these on the Vital Source Blog. The seventh of these I call the spirituality of health.
Often, when people hear the word spirituality they think of a church or religion; spirituality isn’t just religion, although it can be an important part. Spirituality, as I define it here, is everything that is not physical, that which complements and animates our body. Spirituality is taking a rest from physical things and focusing on our spiritual well-being. Some things that help us do this are sleep, wholesome recreation, fasting, prayer and meditation, holy day observance or just taking a day off, religion and worship, and even death.
Sleep is a state where consciousness practically suspended. It naturally refreshes and rejuvenates our body. Things that affect the quality of our sleep are the type of bed and pillow that we sleep on and the nature of the environment that we are in, like sound and temperature levels. The quality of our sleep can indicate that there is an imbalance in one of the other fundamental areas of our health. We should sleep at night for a solid eight hours according to popular belief. Dreaming can be an indicator to know that we slept long enough or well enough. Some of the many benefits of quality sleep are improved mental awareness, metabolism, immune function and mood.
Wholesome recreation is a healthy companion to work. It helps us learn and grow. Some examples include the arts, such as music, dance and drama, sports and group games. Recreation can be degrading if it negatively affects any of the aspects of health or promotes unhealthy behaviors. When recreation is in balance with work it is good but when it lasts too long it can promote idleness and waste time. The best activities promote good behavior, build relationships, and encourage creativity. It promotes happiness and helps develop a healthy identity.
Fasting in its most basic form is going without food and water for a short period of time, for example for a 12-24 hour period. Fasting is extremely rejuvenating for the body because it diverts the energy, normally used on digestion, to cleaning out toxins and healing. Other forms of fasting include water-only and juice-only fasts, where this is the only thing consumed. Fasting can be very detrimental and require a doctor’s supervision; the need for doctor supervision will depend on the person’s experience fasting, the toxic condition of the body, as well as the duration and type of fast. It is not recommended to go without water for more than a 24 hour period but fasting without food can go from a day to a few weeks with the proper training. The speed at which the body removes waste can cause negative side effects, which is why a doctor’s supervision would be required. Once the body has cleansed itself, the positive benefits far outweigh any of the negative feelings and include improved digestion and weight control, reduced or eliminated allergies and fatigue, and increased energy.
Prayer and meditation help receive inspiration and focus the mind. Holy day observance helps promote moral behavior. Taking a day off allows the body to rest from a week full of work and provides a rejuvenation period. Many religions teach methods to rest the body and focus on the spiritual parts of life. They also teach different ways to worship a higher power and give explanations for who or what to worship.
Death, while looked upon negatively by some and positively by others, cannot be escaped. We are mortals and no mortal can escape this. There are many explanations for what may happen after death; some include a period of time to focus on nothing but the spiritual in preparation for receiving a completely healthy, immortal, physical body. Regardless of what you believe, death provides the ultimate rest for or from the mortal, physical body.
Spirituality, while providing a rest from the physical, has a major influence on our physical health. It helps cope with illness and stress and provides better enjoyment of life. It also helps reinforce all of the other categories of health which include our ability to choose to be happy, to be clean, to eat healthy, to seek the source of light, to strengthen relationships, to work towards a beneficial purpose and to prepare for our future. I encourage you to make spirituality a priority in your life so you can reap the many benefits.