Spirituality and Healing
We often discuss holistic care as that which integrates the mind, body and spirit. Many of us have an idea about what is meant by the physical body. Indeed, treating or eliminating disease and its effect on the body is the focus of modern day western medicine. Our mind is synonymous with the ability to think and perhaps even our mood. But what is the spirit? What role does it have in health, personal wellness and healing?
There is not a single definition for the spirit and spirituality since the essence of the spirit is personal and will mean different things to different people. There are, however, overriding themes that can help us through our life journey when suffering and disease threaten our sense of well-being.
Our spirit lies at the very core of who we are, what we cherish and hold true, and what we do.
When we speak of spirituality we go beyond our connection to organized religion. Spirituality is personal. Spirituality includes our connection with faith, a higher power, and collective good, It embraces our interconnectedness with family, friends, community, society and the world. It is the power and importance of our ideas, values and beliefs. Spirituality serves as a purpose in life. The former Surgeon General C Everett Koop, MD referred to spirituality as “The vital center of a person: that which is held sacred.” Many find spirituality through their connection with religion, while others find spirituality in their connections with nature, the arts and humanity.
Healing, Spirituality and Parkinson’s
The term Heal means “to make sound or whole” and stems from the root, haelan, the condition or state of being hal, orwhole.31 Hal is also the root of “holy,” defined as “spiritually pure.” Medical and scientific research is slowly accepting the healing power of prayer.
How often do you hear the terms healing and Parkinson’s in the same sentence or together in conversation. Our discussion of Parkinson’s care usually focuses on the physical body and its treatment. Yet healing and spirituality is of critical importance for progressive illnesses such as Parkinson’s disease since it connects personal suffering and personal meaning. To heal, then means to achieve a sense of wholeness beyond the physical self by embracing and supporting our spiritual self. Healing does occur even with physical body changes associated with illness.
Our spiritual identity can be broken down into the following areas.
How we think - questions about meaning, what is important to us, what gives purpose to our life. As a person with Parkinson’s you may find yourself asking the question-how do I continue along my life’s path, start over or change my life path?
How we feel- These include feelings or emotions such as love, connection, community, hope, inner peace, joy, sorrow, desire, empathy, acceptance, and forgiveness. As a person with Parkinson’s disease, do these emotions hold true and do they gain even stronger meaning and commitment.
How we act- Our relationships with others, commitment to church or organization, prayer and meditation, generosity in giving and support, and the very act of caring for ourselves and others. As a person with Parkinson’s disease, are there new ways to care for myself, new activities, priorities, relationships or connections that I wish to make?
Author: Monique Giroux, MD