Spirituality and Religion for Health and Wellness?
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You have probably at some point heard about the infamous “Prosperity Gospel” at some point if you are familiar with Christianity in America. The question this article will look at is: Is it biblical? We will also take a look at health and wellness as taught by other religions too. If you understand anything about the mind, body, spirit connection, then no spiritual teaching is too far off from the “prosperity teaching”.
Ever since the turn of the 21st century, many people around the world have been turning to all thing organic; from food to natural supplements. Many of these things have their origins in ancient spiritual teachings, mostly from the East. Let’s take it a step further and look at the word “holistic”. This word literally means “treating the whole person”. The root word “holi” is also comes from the religious word “holiness”. Holiness means to “be made whole”. Even scientists are discovering a link between spirituality and health. Many illnesses are caused by stress and anxiety, and virtually everything starts in the mind, though a physical illness may manifest in the body. For example cases of Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD), or Acid Reflux, may be triggered by either excess stress or anxiety that affects the digestive system - Mental state influences the onset of these physical symptoms.
The New Medicine
While contemporary medicine, aka billion dollar pharmaceutical companies, push “lifelong” medicine for many of these conditions, many people are tired of the side effects that these drugs produce and looking to other options; one being alternative medicine that originated in the East and is practiced mostly by Buddhists and Hindus. Some examples of these types of treatments include: Acupressure, Acupuncture, and Mindfulness Meditation. Too some people this seems like a “lesser of two evils” when compared to treating societies ailments with “pill pushing”. But are they really evil? Long before much of today’s healthcare system went “for profit” doctors used to treat illnesses with what was called homeopathic remedies. These days you either have to search out special doctors, such as Doctors of Osteopathy or Orthomolecular Physicians. There are also a growing number of Naturopath clinics and Holistic Practitioners that are opening up shop within the United States as the demand for this type of treatment continues to spread.
Also since contemporary medical doctors do study “medicine” in medical school, they already know what many scientists have proven: that the body has its own built-in system and can heal itself of most, if not all, illnesses. What we call “medicine”, being pills, would have been considered witchcraft centuries ago; the manufacture of man-made drugs to treat illnesses but with the purpose of gaining a profit and keeping people dependent on the drugs. Sound familiar?
Spirituality of the East and West
Anyway, back to using spirituality and religion to find healing. While we are on the subject of Eastern medicine, Buddhism teaches a practice that is called “mindfulness”, or mindful meditation. This is a process that involves sitting still and clearing your thoughts for at least twenty minutes a day. This can also include meditation videos stretching exercises, similar to Yoga.
With regards to the Monotheistic religions of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (those that believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob), mindfulness gets the added feature of meditating on the promises of the One True God (as they see it). There are many verses in the Bible, particularly in the wisdom books of Psalms and Proverbs that can bring healing simply by meditating on them and learning to trust God. Many illness are rooted in stress and anxiety, and anxiety if usually grounded in fear. There are many Bible verses that say “do not fear” or “fear not”. Even Jesus in the New Testament talks about not worrying. Even nonbelievers can find relief from anxiety by learning to practice these principles of not worrying about the situations in their lives.
Lastly, conventional spiritual wisdom (particularly New Age which has Eastern origins and Western esoteric influences) teaches that sickness takes place when your life is out of balance. Given humanity’s tendency to go to extremes, it’s no wonder why there is so much illness and suffering in the world. By learning how to keep our lives in balance and not worry we can keep our lives in proper balance and thereby learn to control our illnesses and disorders. Add mindfulness meditation to that where we learn to “live in the moment” and focus on what is really important in life and we can achieve a life of total health and wellness.
- Erwin Bishop