Whatever your particular religious or spiritual persuasion may be, there are some interesting studies brewing in certain scientific circles these days. These studies show the increased attention on the influence of an individual’s spiritual or religious beliefs on his or her health and well-being. The general goal of these studies is to define the complex relationship between spiritual and religious beliefs and practices, on the one hand, and longer life and better health on the other.
Other Variables to Consider
When looking at these studies it is important to bring to mind that there are many other factors to consider as well, such as the community engagement of the participants in the study, the reading of inspirational literature that usually accompanies a religious or spiritual life, and other such variables. All of these factors could have an impact on the results of said studies. But the fact remains: there does indeed appear to be a correlation between spirituality and longevity at some level.
So, What Does the Data Say?
As was mentioned, we can only really speculate whether it’s because spiritual people do something in particular that makes them feel good emotionally, and thus increase their physical health and longevity, or whether it is some other combination of factors. Going by the data, we can clearly see that spiritual people experience fewer problems with mental disorders, such as depression and anxiety, have lower blood pressure, fewer strokes, and live longer in general. Some suggest it’s because older people who are also religious or spiritual often avoid risky behaviors, such as the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes, but others suggest it is for much deeper reasons. Nonetheless, strong feelings of spirituality, regardless of the specific religion or spiritual path, appear to improve an individual’s ability to deal with stress and the trials of aging.
What if I’m not Affiliated with a Religious “Group”?
The findings of these studies can be equally beneficial even for those who do not describe themselves as spiritual or who do not belong to any particular religious group. The message here is not that you have to go to a church or a temple or a mosque and become “religious” in order to live longer, but rather that we should question our general approach to life, make adjustments, and find a deeper and more spiritual meaning to our existence here on earth. One thing that helps in this regard is connecting with the people around us, especially with those who are on the same spiritual wavelength as oneself. All of these factors can contribute to a positive change in health.
A Shared Article to Get You Started
You can find more details on these studies by clicking on this link. We recommend just listening to the short audio file linked at the top of the article. This obviously isn’t a comprehensive treatment of the subject, but simply a whetting of the palate, as it were. We just thought to get the ball rolling in this ongoing discussion and see what you think.
Questions to Reflect On
So, do you have an opinion about how an increase in spirituality might influence one’s mental health and longevity? Are you personally experiencing the effects of spiritual practices on your physical being? If yes, in what way? Feel free to share your thoughts below. We would love to hear from you…
Photo Credit: Lawrence OP