Spirituality in order to maintain or increase welfare

Spirituality is interpreted in many ways, which in my opinion makes it such a captivating and abstract concept. My understanding of spirituality encompasses happiness and respect for life, as well as the idea of making connections through God in such a way that improves health and well-being. I associate spirituality as a method of finding happiness and peace through prayer and meditation, and I grew up with spirituality by expressing it through religious practices and service to others. Through my observations with how spirituality is practiced, many people try to seek connections of spirituality within their inner self and their surroundings in order to maintain or increase welfare and happiness, and they do so through acts such as volunteering, because helping those in need can really bring long-lasting happiness.

Many people want to gain better knowledge of spirituality and understand why it is seen as such an important aspect to life. Kenneth Doka, a professor and Lutheran minister, believes spirituality to be “the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, and the way they experience their connection to the moment, the self, to others, to nature and the significant or sacred.” (Kenneth Doka, 2010) This essay will explore the different definitions of spirituality in order to gain a better understanding of what it is and the different ways in which people practice it.Peter Van Ness, author of Spirituality, Dispersion, and Decadence, wrote his book presenting a philosophical thinking of spirituality, as he argues that spirituality offers healthful and effective purposes. “Facing outward, human existence is spiritual insofar as one engages reality as a maximally inclusive whole…facing inward, life has a spiritual dimension to the extent that it is apprehended as a project of people’s most enduring and vital selves and is structure by experiences of sudden self-transformation” (Van Ness, 1996). People practice spirituality in order to find connections with themselves and nature. Spirituality can be experienced “facing inward” with meditation, as this ‘inward’ attention brings you closer to yourself to better understand how spirituality affects your view of life from what we have learned and experienced. Spirituality is also seen “facing outward” with activities such as yoga, where people can relate to each other on a spiritual level by how they interact and connect with their environment.

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 Exploring disciplines such as religion, health care, and personal development provides a deeper understanding and definition of spirituality. Spirituality is often associated with religion, and they both display such a strong relationship that it may seem hard sometimes to distinguish between the two. I think many people who are religious still practice spirituality, but I also believe that people can practice spirituality without affiliating themselves with any religion. People practice spirituality as a way to connect with nature and their surroundings rather than with God, and such connections may include activities like walking in the park, doing yoga, and meditating, as it brings many people to a journey of self-discovery to learn about who they are and want to become. These journeys are essentially the way in which one searches and discovers the inner self, as they also lead to discovery of knowledge about the world around them. The film, Life of Pi, greatly touches on the topic of spirituality as it focuses on the journey to self-discovery.

This movie portrays how people can find spirituality and the meaning of life. In this story, Pi Patel tries to figure out who he is and where he came from, and his journey of finding his faith was conducted through his quest at sea. Pi’s sense of self is discovered through his fight for survival as he tries to understand religion and faith while searching for God. Pi is able to find true meaning in his life in the lessons he encounters throughout his journey and through the exploration of spiritual faiths, the abandonment of familiar surroundings, and through relationships with others. Pi enters a journey of self-discovery that eventually results in personal growth, and through these features of self-discovery and lessons of life learned, Pi matures by virtue of changing his perspective on life.

Another important idea to consider is how influential spirituality is on our health care system. Statistics have shown that there is a very low level of spirituality seen from health care personnel. The advanced technology seen in medicine today has shifted the method of caregiving from being more service oriented to being more technological. Patients, however, turn to religion when they suffer from serious disease. According to an article written by Dr. Christina M.

Puchalski, MD, “spiritual beliefs can help patients cope with disease and face death. When asked what helped them cope with their gynecologic cancer, 93% of 108 women cited spiritual beliefs. In addition, 75% of these patients stated that religion had a significant place in their lives, and 49% said they had become more spiritual after their diagnosis.” As an aspiring physician, I am a strong advocate in encouraging spiritual support, especially with terminally ill patients, as it helps them cope with the condition they are in. Rachel Naomi Remen, MD, who has developed Commonweal retreats for people with cancer, stated that “helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak.

When you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, and service the work of the soul” (Remen 2001). With that being said, involving spirituality more in health care could potentially have a positive impact on people’s lives by improving their health. 


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