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There is no doubt about the role spirituality plays in our physical, mental, emotional health and well-being. As disease and illness are parts of our life, their spiritual dimension should also be taken into account.
Medicine has always been linked with spirituality – until the modern time, when it changed its focus to a cure-oriented model of health care.
The current medical system begins with a medical diagnosis – a complex process of determining which condition explains particular signs and symptoms.
Although medical identification of disease is extremely helpful, yet it is still far from being complete, primarily because it does not include the spiritual dimension of illness. As a matter of fact, this is the embarrassing Achilles’ heel of Western medicine, by some even perceived as its most serious deficit.
Alternative health researchers postulate, then, that instead of developing new drugs, medical scientists should be more focused on studying human spirituality. It would bring modern medicine closer to the true sense of health, and thereby help to better understand the multidimensionality of our wellness and well-being.
In holistic medicine, health and disease (suffering) have a broad meaning which goes beyond and above the today’s concept of standard medical care.
From the holistic perspective, disease is a signal, an internal “palpable” message, often in form of an urgent request, or even desperate cry for help, both physiological and spiritual.
Unfortunately, by most of us disease is perceived as an attacker, a foe, an enemy; and the symptoms of illness felt as unpleasant, annoying, disrupting, and threatening.
Needless to say, in the very same manner, disease is being treated by allopathic medicine, making their patients, already nervous and agitated, feeling even more anxious, angry, sad, or even depressed…
But, as someone put it, every experience in life – pleasant or unpleasant – is actually a blessing in disguise pushing us to our highest good. Disease, then, as a part of our life, also should be perceived as an experience and – at the same time – a challenging opportunity, painful yet necessary, to turn us to the spiritual dimension of our life.
By doing so, we begin to think of our condition as a result of the possible faults or negligence on our side, first spiritual, then physiological.
Even clinical medical studies have confirmed the power of our attitudes and beliefs and, consequently, their influence on our wellness and well-being. The existence of our inner resources to heal has also been medically acknowledged.
Health professionals are familiar with the fact that spirituality has a strong effect on their patients’ decisions about their health and illness, including their choices of treatments.
First, however, we must enable ourselves to tap into these hidden inner resources. It can only be done by evoking the power of our inborn spirituality, regardless of us being religious or not. (Mind you, if spirituality is not being nurtured, it can wither up and die, especially in this secular age).
But spirituality in coping with illness, pain, or life stresses, cannot (and should not) be limited only to utilizing prayer or receiving comfort from our religious beliefs.
True spirituality requires looking deep into ourselves to find our true inner strength, an unwavering willingness to change for the better our character and attitude towards life, ourselves and others . (For many, just the mere mentioning of the word ‘change’ brings on cold sweats and goosebumps).
The spiritual change, not separate from the moral change, can be done primarily by overcoming and letting go all negative, destructive emotions, such as:
If we only allow them, knowingly or unknowingly, these powerful and destructive emotions – much deeper than our negative thoughts – can remain deeply hidden within us, slowly penetrating into (and poisoning) our subconscious.
Overcoming and reversing the damaging effects of emotional negativity requires time and persistence. But even the sincere efforts alone can result in bringing more emotional goodness to our life, and, thus, improving our health and well-being.
True spirituality, however, is much more than just following specific procedures to obtain the “spiritual powers” in order to successfully cope with a painful condition (suffering). It is much more than a series of spiritual practices or exercises, positive thinking, yoga, meditation, biofeedback, stress reduction and relaxation techniques, or even questioning (God) why “this” is happening to me, why I am being “punished”, etc.
From the spiritual point of view, suffering (illness) is an opportunity, a chance, or even a seemingly paradoxical (God’s) gift for a spiritual enhancement, for a real and true change of our character, attitude, and our beliefs. In fact, it is a definitive signal that an internal transformation is absolutely necessary, and must begin here and now, before it’s too late. There’s no room for despair or guilt here. That’s how healing is possible and can happen.
Most people are praying – or, even worse, are addicted to – begging prayers. And this is consistent with the meaning of the word prayer based on the Latin term precarius, that is “obtained by entreaty (begging).” Prayer, then, signifies an earnest, preferably humble, petition – actually, an urgent asking, among others, for a favor.
But, by all means, we must not beg. Of course, besides accepting God’s will (obviously, if there is a place for God in our life), we can ask (Him) for help, but only with our hard work of transforming our character. We can do so, again, only by overcoming all negative, destructive emotions and gradually replacing them with love, peacefulness, graciousness, and compassion.
But what is love, the greatest emotion of all? – you may ask. As it is impossible to get to the bottom of this question once and for all, we will leave the answer to decide up to you – as a physicist, a psychotherapist, or a philosopher, a novelist, a nun, or just an ordinary person like me.
Getting back to the topic, it is worth noticing that by confining ourselves to begging prayers we can (and usually do) calm our negative emotions temporarily only; as such prayers in no way are helping us overcome and conquer negativity that wells up inside of us (and in those around us).
If we just keep begging (God) for health and healing and, despite our prayers, still do not feel any noticeable results, a frustration, disappointment, and, finally, depression – a powerful self-destructive emotion – may set in. Then, we, sufferers affected by a disease, imperceptibly begin to lose our meaning and purpose in life, and even stop responding to treatments, be it medical or alternative.
But deep sadness and depression do not appear out of nowhere. These feelings have already been down there, deeply hidden within us. In other words, person’s spirituality may be negatively affected long before a disease demonstrates itself. Suffering (disease) simply brings these emotions to the surface as a “crisis,” by many believers viewed as a “punishment from God”.
There are people who seem to have an absolute faith in the power of prayer. But when a long-awaited and prayed for healing still does not happen, they – disillusioned, frustrated and disappointed – may become overwhelmed by pain and spiritual distress resulting in resentment and anger – another pair of destructive emotions.
Why? Because they (naively) believed and expected that their God will do the job for them. Actually, this is an old and well-known story: “I have so long hoped and prayed for healing and health, and now I demand to get it back, God! Why didn’t you hear my prayers?!”, they cry.
Yes, we do need to (and should) pray – but for empowering our inner strength, for being able to do our own spiritual hard work, first and foremost, on improving and transforming our character, attitude, and our beliefs.
How we can change our character, attitude for the better, and, consequently, our health? Primarily, by overcoming and gradually ridding ourselves of all negative, destructive emotions, and – which is of the utmost importance – becoming loving, peaceful, gracious, and compassionate persons. This is the only way to successfully conquer our spiritual inertia and set ourselves free from it.
For true believers, it obviously means seeking a partnership – not serfdom – with God, and asking for God’s forgiveness. Because trying and learning to forgive – yourself and others – lessens our spiritual distress and, thus, increases our readiness and openness to self-transformation and self-healing.
Praying (yes!) for spiritual strength gives us also an opportunity to look deeper into ourselves and our lives; especially into all our faults and offenses, our personal spiritual history, past and present.
A dramatic, decisive shift, then, in life’s priorities is absolutely necessary in order to regain our health and well-being.
Only by doing so, can we embrace our true spirituality. It is a profound way of becoming whole and well in all known aspects of our life, be it emotional, physical, intellectual, or social.
Without truly acknowledging the importance of spirituality and, most importantly, without awakening our own spiritual dimension, life is by far incomplete, not to say defective and faulty.
As someone put it, only by discovering and experiencing the reality beyond the confines of our negatively-charged ego, life becomes more than just a pursuit of the emptiness of money, fame, power, and respect in our vain attempts to find and achieve “earthly happiness.” Then and only then, such life may also bring us good health – our first wealth.
So, how all this relates to the problems with urinary tract?
It has been noticed and confirmed by many religious thinkers and spiritual healers that negative emotions, such as jealousy, envy, contempt, judgementalism, self-hatred, or depression, have – among others – a damaging effect on the urogenital health.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, for example, where emotions and physical health are intimately connected, the kidneys and the urinary bladder are related to chronic… fear that makes us vulnerable, fragile, and weakens the immune system, leading to chronic urinary tract infections.
In particular, self-hatred frequently prompts urinary cancers. From cancers of the urinary tract often suffer women who tend to be jealous, angry, upset, judgmental, sad, depressed, or who hate themselves.
Also, self-loathing can be manifested in a variety of destructive ways, such as physical neglect, defeatism, self-sacrifice, acquiescence, hostility towards perceived “threats”, isolation, and relationship sabotage…
Needless to say, the same applies to men.
So, beware of the negative emotions!
Your pursuit of optimal health and wellness can be (and usually is) derailed by the lack of the right spirituality in your life. That’s why healing is not possible and cannot happen.
Once again, look deep into yourself to find and awaken your true spirituality. Only this and your unwavering willingness to change your character and attitude towards yourself and others, can help you break – gradually but completely – from all negative, destructive emotions (not just thoughts), above all from anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, contempt, and depression.
Then and only then, in its own time Love may come. So, healing becomes possible, and does happen.
The last “detail” to keep in mind when breaking from the negative emotions is a reminder that this life-changing and health-restoring task must not be reduced just to “controlling” or… “flushing” these deep-rooted feelings from the body. Because if you do so they will be back, sooner rather than later, often with a vengeance.
The truth is that all psychological tricks, spiritual – ancient or modern – techniques, etc. rarely work in our life, and quite often mask the psychophysiological symptoms only. They are like crutches that can (and often do) help, but just to a certain point, and then stop. At the same time, they might create a dependency and keep forcing us to look for other “methods” or new gurus, often in a trial-and-error fashion. Over time, this behaviour may become a habit of an endless searching for the better and guaranteed “results.”
Therefore, don’t fool yourself into thinking and believing that you are safe and free from the deeply rooted negative feelings. And remember, that if you do not change your character, these deeply rooted negative feelings might destroy – slowly but surely yet totally – your health and well-being, especially when you let them govern your life, unchecked and undealt with, for a long time.
So, think of it and make a decision. Then, with no further delay, take action – before it’s too late to do anything about it.
Spirituality is understood and defined here not just as religiousness, but mainly as our relationship with the transcendent questions that may, or may not, involve our relationships with God.
Transcendent questions are understood and defined here as the questions beyond our human experience, such as talking to God.
Human experience is understood and defined here as the result of our conscience mind’s interaction and liaison between our physical body and the non-physical or spiritual soul.
Spirit, or spiritual soul, is understood and defined here as our nonphysical part that is the seat of our emotions and character.
Emotions are understood and defined here as a complex state of feelings resulting in physical and psychological changes that influence our thoughts, character and behavior. Negative emotions are the experiences of self-destructive feelings such as anger, hatred, envy, jealousy, pride, vanity, frustration, contempt, sadness, depression, guilt, and fear.
Ethical person is understood and defined here as a person or behavior that is right in the moral sense, that is truthful (always telling the truth), unselfish, fair, and honest. Ethical comes from the Greek word ethos meaning” (moral) character”.
Character is understood and defined here as a complex of person’s ethical and mental traits.
Spiritual distress is understood and defined here as a disturbance in a person’s belief system characterized by such signs and symptoms as feelings of anger or hopelessness, depression and anxiety, feeling abandoned by God, questioning the beliefs and meaning of life or suffering, sudden doubt in spiritual or religious beliefs, asking why this situation occurred.
Positive attitude is understood and defined here as a mental attitude that sees the good and the accomplishments in our life, rather than the negative and the failures.
*Based on various available sources and studies, personal research and experience. Last modified on May 12, 2023. The short version is available on our blog at The Spiritual Aspect of Disease.
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