Faith & Spirituality from the Pages of NAMI National
Post date: May 19, 2018 11:54:58 PM
Faith & Spirituality
As we learn more and more about the connections between the mind and body, it becomes clear that spirituality, religion and faith can help some individuals live well with mental health conditions. Some individuals and families turn to faith in times of crisis to help in their recovery while others find that spiritual practices help them continue to manage their mental health.
How Faith Can Help
Research has shown that for some, religion and individual spirituality can directly improve our physical and mental health.
One practice that has received a lot of attention is contemplative prayer and meditation. Many studies have found that 10-20 minutes of meditation twice a day causes what is called the "relaxation response": decreased metabolism, decreased heart rate, decreased breathing rate and slower, calmer brain waves.
The relaxation response was originally observed in practitioners of Transcendental Meditation, a form of Buddhist meditation, but subsequent research has found the relaxation response can result from other contemplative practices as well. The daily ritual prayers of Islam and the Catholic practice of praying with rosary beads, for instance, are religious rituals that invoke the relaxation response.
Religion offers other supports for mental health as well. In the United States, the Christian practice of congregational prayer is so popular that it now exists even in Asian religions such as American Buddhism and Hinduism, which didn't traditionally gather as a community once a week. One of the most popular ways to interact with the community is to attend congregational gatherings such as Sunday church, Saturday Torah readings, prayer meetings or full-moon celebrations at Hindu temples.
These group religious rituals provide structured social activities that cause relatively little anxiety and benefit our health directly. Places of worship may also offer a number of resources and social activities that can encourage and support people living with a mental health condition and their families, providing additional benefits through community connections