The importance of spirituality to health
As a general rule, health workers have all been trained in the modern scientific paradigm that draws a complete separation between mind and body, and between human beings and nature. Thus many specialties have been created that have been very beneficial for diagnosing illnesses and also for developing the means of curing them.
Having given credit where credit is due, we cannot forget, however, that the holistic vision has been lost: the human being within a wider concept of society, of nature and of the cosmic energies; illness as a rupture of that totality, and the cure as its reintegration.
There is in us a dimension responsible for cultivating that totality, one that looks to the Structuring axis of our lives: namely, the spiritual dimension. Spirituality comes from spirit; it is the cultivation of what is proper for the spirit, its capacity to project a unifying vision, to relate with everything, to connect and reconnect all things with each other and with the Original Source of all beings.
If the spirit is relationship and life, its opposite is not matter and body, but death, as the absence of relationships. In this sense, spirituality is every attitude and activity that favors the expansion of life, the conscious relationship, open communion, profound subjectivity and transcendence as a form of being, always open to new experiences and new knowledge.
Neurobiologists and scholars of the brain have identified the biologic basis of spirituality; it is found in the frontal lobe of the brain. They discovered empirically that when global contexts are captured, or a meaningful experience of the totality is produced, or when final realities charged with meaning are approached in an existential manner (rather than as objects of study), and attitudes of adoration, devotion and respect are produced, there is always an acceleration of the periodic vibrations of the neurons in that lobe. They call this phenomenon the «God point» in the brain, or the appearance of the «mystical mind» (Zohar, SQ: Inteligencia Espiritual, 2004). It is like an inner organ, through which the presence of the Ineffable is captured within reality.
This fact constitutes an evolutionary advance of the human being who, as a human–spiritual being, perceives the Fontal Reality sustaining all things, realizing with surprise that it is possible to dialogue and seek an intimate communion with her. This possibility dignifies the human, because it spiritualizes and leads one to a higher level of perceiving the Link that connects and reconnects all things. The human feels a part of that Whole.
This «God point» is revealed through intangible values such as greater compassion, more solidarity, and a deeper sense of respect and dignity. To awaken this «God point», to remove the ashes with which an excessively rationalist and materialistic culture covered it, is to allow that spirituality to flourish in people’s lives.
In fact, spirituality does not consist of thinking about God, but of feeling God, through that inner organ, and experiencing God’s presence and action from the heart. We perceive God as the enthusiasm (in Greek enthusiasm means to have a god within), that transports and heals us, gives us the will to live, and is continuously creating meaningful existence.
What importance should we give this spiritual dimension in caring for health and illness? Spirituality has a healing force of its own. It is not something magic and esoteric. It is about using the energies that characterize the spiritual dimension, which is as valid as intelligence, libido, power, and affection for other human dimensions. These energies are highly positive, such as to love life, to open up to others, to establish bonds of fraternity and solidarity, to be capable of forgiveness, mercy, and indignation, when facing the injustices of this world, as Pope Francis exemplarily does.
Besides recognizing the great value of the known therapies, there is still a supplément d’âme, as the French would say, a complement to what already exists, that strengthens and enriches it with factors arising from other sources of healing. The established model of medicine does not have, of course, a monopoly on diagnosis and healing. This is where spirituality opens a path.
In the first place, spirituality strengthens in the person the confidence in the regenerative energies of life, in the competence of the physician, in the diligent caring of the nurses. We know from the profound and transpersonal psychology the therapeutic value of confidence in the normal course of life. Confidence means basically to say: life has meaning, it is worth living, has an internal energy that nourishes it, it is beautiful. This confidence pertains to a spiritual vision of the world.
Spirituality carries the conviction that the reality we experience is more than what analysis tells us. We can have access to reality though the inner senses, by intuition and the secret paths of the cordial reason. It can be seen that there is an underlying order to the sensible order, as Nobel laureate, David Bohm, the great quantum physicist, a favorite disciple of Einstein, always maintained.
This underlying order responds to the visible orders and can always bring us surprises. Often physicians themselves are surprised by the rapid healing of some patients, or how conditions normally considered to be irreversible, turn around and wind up being cured. Deep down, it is to believe that the invisible and imponderable are part of the visible and foreseeable.
Also to the spiritual world pertains the unquenchable hope that life does not end with death, but that it is transformed through it. Our dreams of returning to normal life unleash positive energies that contribute to regaining health.
A major force, however, is the faith of feeling oneself in the palm of the hand of God. To confidently turn one’s self to His will, to sincerely wish to be cured, but also to serenely accept if He calls us to Himself: this is the presence of spiritual energy. We do not die, God comes seeking us, to take us where we have always belonged, to His home, to live together with Him. Such spiritual convictions act as the springs of the waters of life, generators of healing and of life’s potency. It is the fruit of spirituality.
Free translation from the Spanish sent by
Melina Alfaro, email@example.com,
done at REFUGIO DEL RIO GRANDE, Texas, EE.UU.