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spirituality and health

Life has never been more fast-paced than it is today. And in the middle of it all, it’s easy to find yourself struggling to find your inner peace and wellbeing. Of course, your health also suffers in the long run, especially if you don’t make time to take care of yourself.


The journey to wellbeing through spirituality and health has long been a cause of discussion in the medical world, and studies have proven that spirituality has an important role to play in promoting health and healing.



Defining Spirituality

There is no one definition of spirituality because it can mean different things from one person to the other. Some may see spirituality as being part of a religious organization while others may treat it as a non-religious practice.


Still, others may look at spirituality as a combination of both religious and non-religious practices. But while definitions may vary, one thing’s for sure: spirituality brings a higher purpose into a person’s life.



Role of Spirituality in Health

With the debate on the correlation between spirituality and health, studies have been conducted to closely examine the impact of spiritual practices in boosting health and they revealed that:



Spirituality can help Depression


Depression is one of the most common and devastating mental illnesses in the world, and it is mostly triggered when someone starts to isolate themselves.


Most spiritual practices, however, encourage social engagement and being involved in activities such as volunteering or attending yoga classes pulls a depressed person out of isolation and offers them a more positive environment where depression cannot thrive.



Spirituality can Restore a Sense of Purpose


Sometimes, health conditions are just physical manifestations of spiritual problems. Proof of this is how stress is a common predisposing factor in many illnesses including hypertension and heart disease.


With spiritual counseling, a chaplain will help an affected individual to deal with the stresses of their life through acceptance and finding ways to turn their weaknesses into strengths. This helps restore their sense of purpose and thus, keeps them emotionally healthier, which in turn could lead to better physical health.



Spirituality Boosts the Immune System


The world is filled with a ton of stressors, most of which one cannot control. And when stress becomes too much, it takes a toll on one’s immune system and may lead to different health and mental issues that affect an individual’s quality of life.


However, it has been found that practicing spiritual activities such as praying, meditating or spending time with nature can help boost the immune system to fight illnesses or help an individual recover from an existing health condition.



Spirituality and health are at the end of the day, intertwined with each other. They are both important aspects of life and one benefits the other to promote wellbeing in an individual. This is why spiritual healthcare is now introduced in the medical setting because it has been proven that offering empathy and support to a patient has a huge impact to their prognosis and quality of life in the long run.



medicine bag

The Native American culture is as rich as its people. Throughout the centuries, Native Americans thrived because of how they value their traditions including the objects they use for everyday life.


One of the most important accessories in Native American culture is the medicine bag, which was used mostly by a Shaman or medicine man. Medicine bags are considered sacred and special by Native Americans because they hold different objects such as amulets and herbal medications that are used by the Shaman for healing the sick or offering protection and strength for soldiers who will go to battle.



The Shaman and their Medicine Bag


A Shaman is regarded in Native American culture as a person with access and influence in the world of good and evil spirits. Shamans are believed to enter an altered state of consciousness to interact with the spirit world and offer healing and good energy into the human world.


Medicine bags are considered an important part of a Shaman’s life because they serve as a container for sacred objects used in practice. This includes objects from the plant, animal and mineral kingdoms as well as from human life. Medicine bags are usually made from the pelts of beavers, panthers, raccoons, otters or reptiles and are traditionally worn under the clothing.


Native Americans believe that the contents of a medicine bag are extremely private and should symbolize tribal identity and wellbeing. Paint may also be included in the medicine bag to be used by the Shaman to paint mystical markings on warriors that are believed to give them more power and make them invincible.


med bag


The Native American and their Personal Medicine Bag


Aside from being used by a Shaman, medicine bags are also given to boys who start their spiritual journey at the age of fifteen or as they enter into manhood. In a rite of passage, the boy enters a vision quest where his spirit guide will be revealed in the form of a power animal that has walked with him throughout his life.


After this revelation, the Shaman talks about the meaning of the boy’s spirit guide and provide him with a personal medicine bag that contains different symbolic items that are related to their spiritual journey and those that will protect him during his lifetime. This medicine bag is then closed and only very seldom opened.


It is usually worn around the neck and when the bearer dies, the bag is buried together with the symbol of his guardian spirit. This medicine bag is regarded as an important part of every Native American’s life because it is believed to keep them safe and offer them increased strength in battle.



The medicine bag is definitely a symbol of faith and tradition not only in Shamanism but also in the Native American culture in general. This is why this tradition has been kept alive for many centuries because it is believed to be one of the things that ancestors have passed down to the younger generations to keep them safe.


Lori Mennastanding.rock created her collage to support the movement’s environmental message, but also to express solidarity with the Lakota people. “I know that American Indians know our Mother Earth more than anyone. I have been sitting in Lakota Temezcal ceremonies for years. Their beliefs, their chants, their connectedness is powerful and meaningful and I respect their culture immensely.”