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Forums / Multicultural experiences / Religious or Spiritual?

Topic: Religious or Spiritual?

11 posts, 0 answered
  1. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    845 posts
    26 December 2017
    The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in its 1948 constitution as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity." And mental health as “a state of well-being in which every individual realizes their own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to their community.” Many view spirituality as inextricably linked to mental health and quality of life founded on the principle that spiritual needs are intrinsic to humanity. Meaningful living is linked to a sense of purpose and is at the heart of quality of life for all people. Everyone has spiritual needs regardless of faith, beliefs and religion or the lack of. Unmet spiritual needs may manifest themselves in a range of ways such as depression, anxiety, hopelessness, challenging behaviors and ongoing dissatisfaction. Being spiritually healthy is associated with increased learning, creativity and productivity, more pro-social behavior and positive social relationships, and with improved physical health and life expectancy! Mental health is about being cognitively, emotionally and socially healthy – the way we think, feel and develop relationships. Each individual defines and express the universal idea of spirituality within the context of their culture and society. But is there a way to measure the benefits of spirituality on mental health? Could spirituality contribute to the prevention of mental health conditions, and/or support people who have experienced these conditions to get as well as they can and lead full and contributing lives? Having social connections, good personal relationships and being part of a community are vital to maintaining good mental health and contribute to people's recovery, should they become unwell. However, spiritual care is often conflated with religious and pastoral care. This has caused many people to avoid spirituality altogether, leaving spiritual needs unmet, especially if they are from a culturally or linguistically diverse background. Spirituality could positively contribute to well being if it is inclusive of activities that focus on meaning, purpose and connection as well as overall resilience building. What's your experience of spirituality and how, if, it relates to your mental health?
  2. blueskye
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    27 December 2017 in reply to Donte'

    I'm not religious but I am open minded to other people's beliefs/religions.

    I believe that both religion and spirituality have a major impact on a person's mental health.

    With religion, some deny gay rights. This will negatively impact those that follow that religion and are gay.

    I'm a big fan of spirituality. With spirituality, it encourages you to listen to your intuition and do what is right for yourself and others around you. It sets you free to be the best you can be and to be a good person with no promise of punishment or reward. If you lack it, yes your mental health will suffer.

    My experience with spirituality is that I follow what I believe in and it keeps me moving forward - treat others how I want to be treated, take care of my body, be a loving girlfriend, try to be happy...

    Being spiritually healthy is definitely important to my mental health.

    1 person found this helpful
  3. Bethie
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    27 December 2017 in reply to Donte'

    For me at least if Ididn't believe in Spirituality I'd more than likely be dead by my own hand. In my thread you may get a idea of why I say that.

    I've read most of the religious writings over the years in a effort to help understand other cultures and all have the same basis. Respect for others and believe in something bigger than us guides lives.

    I tell my son to trust his gut feeling in life, to look for the inner good in others and trust that somehow someway even at the darkest moments in life there is something that needs to be learnt to grow stronger which oneday will show it's self.

    Spirituality can let us over come so much. I see it everyday. Mothers if all different faiths and countries together at parks with kids or having coffee.

    Maybe I'm lucky. My son goes to a level 2 immigration high school that is extremely diverse. Without spirituality I don't think that kids could play together as teens.

    We see it so much overseas. Religion first, spirituality 2nd..we watch the news and see the damage.

    Australia is probably the least active religious country I know but that said look at how people help each other everyday around us. Maybe I'm idealic but I choose to believe in Spirituality/ the inner light and good in everyone and everything

    3 people found this helpful
  4. gld
    gld avatar
    625 posts
    28 December 2017 in reply to Bethie

    Good topic!

    Having inner peace and guidance does contribute to a better wellbeing.

    If a person grows up without guidance how are they able to regain inner peace when they have never experienced it. I feel that we as a whole could benefit by becoming more open to others differences as well as willing to experience new things. Being spiritual or having a religion does not always have to come into play to make this happen.

    Funny thing about religion for me is most of them when stripped back are very alike. The most worrying thing for me is how some people interpret them and teach/preach them.

    Gen

    3 people found this helpful
  5. geoff
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    28 December 2017 in reply to Bethie
    Both my 2 sons are Catholic as my ex is and I respect that like I do with other people who believe in any religion that's their choice, but what I don't like are people knocking on my front door trying to hand me information or tell me of their ways.
    I was raised Church of England but now I have no religion or believe in anything, so I guess you could call me agnostic, the reason being that as a very young kid I prayed that no one in my family would pass away, but for 4 years in a row a grandparent or uncle did pass away, so at a young age of 6 I didn't believe in anything.
    Religious classes at school were paramount, we had to do them but they still couldn't change my mind and sorry I'm still agnostic.
    I know people who are religious so they keep their beliefs to themselves because they know how I feel, so no I don't believe in Spirituality nor Religion but that doesn't stop me from being someone who has lived a life well and prosperous with or without MI.
    Eventually depression took over my life until now I have overcome it, but that doesn't make me free because it can always come back, and I don't believe any religion would have stopped this from happening. Geoff.


    Apologies to those who are religious.
    2 people found this helpful
  6. Hayfa
    beyondblue Connect Mentor
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    28 December 2017 in reply to Donte'

    Hi Donte' and everybody,
    thank you for this very interesting and important thread. Spirituality is something that is very close to my heart and I could probably talk about it for hours.
    I was born and raised in a belief system and religion that is theosophical and related to the beliefs of early Tibetan Buddhism and Indian Vedanti, I believe that man has a place and a purpose in the Universe in which many lessons will be learned in many lifetimes.

    I also think that humans are multisensory meaning that we are not limited by the five senses, we are now able to know before seeing by listening to our intuitions, or as some people may recognise it as the soul, spark, life, divine essence or emotions and countless other terms.
    This can be defined as someone's spirituality because it is what drives us to be who we are, make the choices we do by listening, thinking feeling and then seeing it unfold. We all have this but some people don't recognise it in them because they are not listening to it. How many times have you ever done something only to regret later and say 'I knew I shouldn't have because I had a feeling'. This spark or intuition or whatever you may call it is guided by our emotions, emotions are what drives the human race and without it we would not be on a journey of life learning.
    I think we are all on this spiritual journey in one form or another and depending on how in tune you are with it and what you choose to create in your life from the opportunities given to you, this can play a major part in your mental health.

    It is very easy to consider religion and spirituality as the one and the same but in effect, they may be closely related but not the same. You can be spiritual and not religious since religion is the belief of a superpower or God whereas spirituality is the amazing thing within all of us that guides us in our life by constantly sending messages that you can feel in your torso, sometimes those feelings are light and good, other times heavy and dark and they are with us to help us make decisions.
    The human spirit is exactly this and it has a place in all of us, it is what helps us understand and achieve and it is responsible for good health and wellbeing or lack of.

    3 people found this helpful
  7. Donte'
    Multicultural Correspondent
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    29 December 2017 in reply to Hayfa

    Hi Hayfa,

    What a great way to see, understand and interpret the human experience. I also believe that spirituality is something independent of religious faith and practice. It can be part of it for many people but it also can be felt by multitudes of others who are not religious or do not follow any ritualistic traditions or beliefs. One can be an atheist or agnostic and still be aware of themselves, others around them and the environment we are all part of. The constant thing we all have, and the one that keeps us alive is our breath, in and out, every moment of our living days in this body. Even if intrinsically there's nothing wrong with rituals and traditions, I have come to recognize from my personal experience that my breath is the most important thing, keeping me alive. I have become mindful of my breath and the way I can pay attention to it for relaxation and calmness and practice active breathing regularly. When we are tormented by our thoughts who may bombard us and steal our peace, especially when alone or at night, when sorrow and pain overtake us, when loss and grief burden us, when fear and hopelessness take over, when worries, disappointment etc don't let us rest, we can learn to not fight them, not even engage them, but shift our focus to our breathing, concentrating on our breath as it goes in and out and simply inhale and exhale visualizing our breath...leaving our thoughts be, just breathing. This does wonders I have found as it shifts us from any mindset and brings us to the now. We are then able to relax and the thoughts just evaporate and we forget them as easily as they appeared. I can't even remember how I discovered this, but for years now when I get anxious and panicky and thoughts torment me, thoughts of past losses and misfortunes and traumatic experiences and fear of future probabilities, I just let them be, and laying on my back, start breathing deeply, slowly, concentrating on my breath only. It's amazing that within a few minutes I am totally relaxed and usually calm and fall asleep. Of course, this has been a gradual process which didn't just happen overnight, but if practiced it becomes easier and I find that it helps with ease the stress. For me, this is being spiritual - the awareness of myself and emotions, the others around me and my environment and the interconnection of it all. Seeing my entity in the context of my environment locally and globally and in the time I live in right now and connecting the dots....

  8. Donte'
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    29 December 2017 in reply to blueskye

    Hi Blueskye,

    Yes, very good points. There is a difference between being spiritual (something we all are as living spirits/energy connected with each other and our environment) and being religious - following certain belief systems and traditions/rituals etc. Being mindful of ourselves and others and our environment and how everything relates and is connected is being actively spiritual and of course everyone can practice this together with trying to minimize the negative impact we make on this planet. It definitely assists our mental health and overall well being and provides us with a meaningful purpose thus enriching our lives in more ways than one. Being open minded and acknowledging others' beliefs is respectful and positively assists in effective engagement and connectedness even if their truth is not ours and our experience is different. We all learn from each other by sharing. Intuition is indeed a great insight, following your gut feeling together with your logic (mind) and your emotions (heart). Ultimately, being aware of how we feel and what our limits are and how we impact our own health with our choices and the lives of others around us and life on this planet helps us relate to ourselves and everything around us in a more positive way and being mindful of the things we don't like and hoping others will respect us as we respect them. I guess that sums it up :)

    1 person found this helpful
  9. Donte'
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    29 December 2017 in reply to Bethie

    Lovely points Bethie,

    And a clear distinction between spirituality and religion. One flows from the heart, with an instinct and emotion, the other is dictated by guidelines, traditions and rituals. They both have a place in people's lives but they are very different indeed. It's good to be aware of these things that make us thankful daily and the little yet very important things that impact our emotions and lives. We are indeed fortunate in this country to not have the issues that others have elsewhere and enjoy a relationship with each other in one of the most diverse cultural environments and with nature in this beautiful continent. Choosing to actively seek the good in everything and look for the bright side I'm certain assists with our mental health in a positive way and shifts our perspective and outlook of life. Glad you can relate to this. :)

  10. Donte'
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    29 December 2017 in reply to gld
    That's true, we are more similar than different. In ll our diversity (135 religions in Australia) the experience is the same - human beings trying to understand life and their place in the universe and reach to something higher than themselves. The expression may change but the essence is the same. And yes, we don't need to be religious or have specific beliefs to be spiritual. An atheist or agnostic could be very mindful of their place in the world and the connectedness with others and their environment. They can be thankful and appreciative for the sun and the rain and the lovely planet we call home and be helpful to others and work to make this a better place, Have met many caring, loving individuals with no set beliefs who value humanity and life and contribute positively to the development of a better quality of life thus enhancing this world. Mental health is improved as an outcome by acts of giving and kindness and the release of endorphins as a result making the individual feel better and happier about themselves and theur life and the contribution they make.
  11. Donte'
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    29 December 2017 in reply to geoff

    Hi Geoff,

    First of all thank you for your reply and your honesty. No need to apologise for not being religious or spiritual. We are all unique and view things in our way which is based on our personal experience and creates our own 'truth'. You seem to have a great awareness of this. In my experience, this is spirituality (the way I have come to understand it). Having that awareness of who I am, why, what my truth is and how I relate to others and to my environment and contribute to what we call life. This has a tremendous impact on my self-image and respect and the way I see others. Maybe that is the difference between humans and the rest of the living creatures. We are aware. We see and understand the impact of our existence. We have choices and we can choose to do or not do. Mindfulness and awareness and/or the lack of is definitely what contributes to our overall mental health and the one of those around us.

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