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Spirituality and Physical Health

A warm welcome to Chinmaya members for the year 2017-2018 ! I hope you had a wonderful summer break, and that you’re now looking forward to another amazing year at the Mission for you and your family.

Perhaps the greatest wellness tip I can give to anyone for overall health and well-being is this: join a spiritual organization that matches your family’s belief system, and attend a spiritual gathering every week, soaking up as much knowledge as possible, and surrounding yourself with like-minded people.

We are so fortunate to have such a great organization as Chinmaya Mission, the vision of Sri Gurdev Swami Chinmayananda, within arm’s reach of us, not just for ourselves but for our growing and impressionable children.

Did you know that spirituality can promote a healthier physical life for your family? Recent medical studies indicate that kids who grow up with spirituality are less prone to self-destructive behaviors (suicide, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse, for example), and have less stress and a greater total life satisfaction.

Much of the research linking spiritual and physical health has involved elderly patients; however, the data offer a glimpse into a possible tie between a spiritual life and good health for people of all ages. Spirituality has been shown to reduce depression, improve blood pressure, and boost the immune system. So what exactly is spirituality and how can it enhance your family's health?Doctors and scientists once avoided the study of spirituality in connection to medicine, but more recent findings have made some take a second look. Studies show that religion and faith can help to promote good health and fight disease by: offering additional social supports, such as religious outreach groups, improving coping skills through prayer and a philosophy that all things have a purpose.

Many studies focusing on adults point to the positive effects of spirituality on medical outcome: In a 7-year study of senior citizens, religious involvement was associated with less physical disability and less depression. Death rates were lower than expected before an important religious holiday, which suggested to researchers that faith might have postponed death in these cases. Elderly people who regularly attended religious services had healthier immune systems than those who didn't. They were also more likely to have consistently lower blood pressure. Patients undergoing open-heart surgery who received strength and comfort from their religion were three times more likely to survive than those who had no religious ties.

Religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of how many people deal with life's joys and hardships. Faith can give people a sense of purpose and guidelines for living. When families face tough situations, including health problems, their religious beliefs and practices can help them fight feelings of helplessness, restore meaning and order to life situations, and help them regain a sense of control. For some families, spirituality can be a powerful and important source of strength. Medical studies have confirmed that spirituality can have a profound effect on mental states. In a study of men who were hospitalized, nearly half rated religion as helpful in coping with their illness. A second study showed that the more religious patients were, the more quickly they recovered from some disorders. A third study revealed that high levels of hope and optimism, key factors in fighting depression, were found among those who strictly practiced their religion.

You are probably not attending Sunday Session every week for the purpose of gaining increased physical health, however you are attaining that. The spiritual discourses we receive every week from beloved Swamiji uplifts our mood, lightens our hearts, and gives us a jump in our step when we start the week. Don’t you leave Mission feeling happier and lighter? Even if you don’t attend yoga?

For our children, coming to Mission every week becomes part of their life and plants the seeds of spirituality within them for LIFE. Whether they know it or not, they will forever have the tendency towards spirituality within them - in challenging times they will turn to God, to prayer, to the scriptures, to the temple, or to one of our Swamis or Acharyas for guidance. What could be a greater gift to our children than this gift of knowledge, that God is within us, and we can always reach Him.

With many blessings and wishes to a wonderful year ahead with each other at Chinmaya Mission.

Unto Sri Gurudev ! In your light may we shine !

Hari Om, Amita

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