Spirituality and Health
More and more people around the world are moving towards spirituality. Why? While modern medicine has proved effective in curing many diseases, it fails to provide a holistic approach to the health. It is increasingly recognized that diseases and health are not only a matter of body, but also of mind and spirit. World Health Organisation (WHO) defines health as, “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” This implies that we should look beyond biomedical sciences to attain mental and social well being including spiritual aspect. However, what is the meaning of spirituality, how it influences our health, and what should be done to develop spirituality is a matter of current interest to both health care providers as well as the patients in particular and civil society in general. What is spirituality? It is difficult to define spirituality. It is the person’s inner truth or blissful experience. Through spiritual pursuit, a person tries to connect with a supreme divine or what most people call almighty God. Such people resort to techniques like silence, prayer, meditation and yoga mostly as individual or collective practice, usually under the directions of a spiritual Guru. Others believe in the self-less service to the mankind as a major pathway for seeking god. They adore ‘goodness’ to see God. How spirituality and religion are related? Spirituality and religion are interlinked but different concepts. Both of them have the same objective of connecting to divine power. However, since the spiritual pathway is an abstract concept, different religions were established by mankind. They prescribe certain code of conduct, practices and rituals with the aim of bringing self realization or oneness with God. Many of the religious practices are supportive of good living including good health. For example observance of ‘fasting’ during Ramzan in Islam and performance of Pooja, Hawan etc in Hindus, prayer service in Christianity, Langar Seva found in Sikhism, non-violence and vegetarianism amongst Jain community etc. are the examples to show how various religions propagate good living and good health. Spirituality aims to focus on cultivation of universal values by practices such as yoga, prayer, silence, meditation often combined with self-less service to the mankind surrendering one’s ego. Many of the religious practitioners also believe in spirituality and some of the spiritual practitioners also believe in religion.