DR PUSHPA CHATURVEDI recommends spiritual care as a vital component of holistic self-health management and as a means to boost immunity and cope with the stress and suffering of the pandemic
These difficult, uncertain Covid times have made us reflect on the quality of life, health care, holistic wellbeing; and the one aspect most feared by all ― end of life. To cope with these sensitive issues, spiritual care becomes a very essential component of staying holistically healthy, as we battle this invisible enemy.
All religions teach us that spirituality has a strong relationship with coping with our fears, emotions and behaviour. Spirituality gives us strength and solace and guides us to act sensibly while dealing with life-changing and traumatic events. Apart from this, the good news is that medical research has revealed prevalence of increased immune body functions as a result of following spiritual practices.
So how do you enhance spiritual care practices in these times? To me, the most important thing is to follow one’s intuition to evolve a relationship with the Divine to bring out the divinity in you.
There can be no other relationship more closer than God, who is your father, your mother and your best friend.
There is Divinity in each one of us, when we are in a state of being connected with the Supreme source residing within. It is the state when our heart is full of love, compassion, and caring. It is the state when our mind is full of joy, equanimity, peace and happiness.
Keeping our inner self in a state of equanimity is very essential. This enables us to remain calm, even-tempered and centred in the midst of turmoil. An image often used to describe equanimity is: “being like the mountain.”
The mountain withstands the sun in the same way that it does the rain, the wind, and the snow. No matter what is going on around it, the mountain is still the mountain, unaffected by outer influences.
There is so much grief around us. We must not absorb grief, but be like the mountain. Just feel the sadness and then let go. Positive self-affirmations help to keep an inner balance. For example, “God is with me and all is well, no matter what happens; this too shall pass.”
Rather than wondering how to utilise your time, concentrate on tasks and activities that bring fulfilment and increase joy and peace, particularly those activities that enhance your spiritual life. These could be anything from giving your time and expertise to people, to helping them to do small acts of kindness; love and compassion to brighten someone else’s day, while practising Covid-appropriate behaviour. Never let that guard down.
Develop a new hobby, discover your creativity. Reading of literature, poetry; writing, sketching, painting; listening to music, especially sacred music; developing interest in different art forms ― all contribute to our spiritual wealth and development. All these keep the mind focused, stopping it from over-thinking, giving one solace and calm. I often indulge in such activities and feel the difference. It acts like meditation does.
As in these days we need to keep a distance from people and avoid outside activities, we can devote more time to one’s self and family and try to bring spiritual discipline in our life with a daily time for prayer, meditation, breathing and other exercises to nurture our body, mind and soul.
Prayer and meditation connects us to God. Prayers are great for reducing stress and fear, enhancing love and hope, creating positive thoughts and feelings of gratitude and compassion. Prayers promote a feeling of wellness and healing.
Prayers relax the body and mind and release us from the urge to control something greater than oneself. This feeling can reduce the stress of needing to be in charge or feeling guilty of all that’s happening around us in these challenging times.
Thus, one surrenders to the Divine, as one senses the loving presence and alignment with God.
Spiritual practices further uplift our mind-body-spirit connection, calm us and inhibit release of cortisol and other stress hormones, thus reducing the negative impact of stress on the immune system, thereby promoting healing.
In sum, spiritual care forms a vital component of holistic self-health management, especially in coping, coming to terms with the circumstances, illnesses and suffering, and healing ourselves. We certainly owe this to ourselves.
(Featured Image: Painting by Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi)
Dr Pushpa Chaturvedi, a paediatrician with over 50 years’ experience, is an educationist and researcher, with over 100 research publications, mainly on social paediatrics in renowned medical journals. Ex-Professor and Head of Department of Paediatrics, MGIMS Sevagram, Wardha, she is a thinker, writer, poet, artist and a spiritual blogger with over 500 blogs to her credit. Dr Chaturvedi is also a keen traveller, music and nature lover.