Why is addressing spirituality in health care...
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Nov 12, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Why is addressing spirituality in health care important?

Imagine a conference room full of eager listeners and a panel of experts (a nursing professor, a doctor, a hospital chaplain). Then imagine a question posed that leaves everyone thinking deeply and no one answer is definitive.

“How can we collaborate with health care professionals to come to a common definition of spirituality in the health care model?”

This question has no easy answer and I appreciated that the panel did its best to suggest ways to build a bridge to more person-centered healthcare and meet the spiritual needs of patients in a hospital centric model.

The Canadian Research Institute of Spirituality and Healing (CRISH) held this conference last week to pose the question of the future of spirituality in health care to a panel of professionals in the field.

Research studies have quantitatively examined relationships between religion, spirituality and health, many reporting positive findings. In fact the number of such studies has ballooned over the years and medical schools are increasingly offering courses on spirituality and medicine.

One panelist’s comment struck me as particularly poignant: ‘The beauty of spirituality brings in the light to the sickroom.’

Mary Baker Eddy, a deeply spiritual thinker herself on this subject, explained this in a more pictorial fashion when she wrote at the turn of the 20th century: ‘The substance, Life intelligence, Truth and Love, which constitute Deity, are reflected in His creation…The sunlight glints from the church-dome, glances into the prison-cell, glides into the sick-chamber, brightens the flower, beautifies the landscape, blesses the earth.’ (Science and Health p. 516)

And she further proved in healing experiences throughout her life’s work that it was a divine source of love that brought the light: ‘Love, redolent with unselfishness, bathes all in beauty and light.’ (ibid)

Eddy had a healing model of health care, beyond reliance on the allopathic model of managing disease. She didn’t eschew medical personnel who devote their lives to the health and well-being of others, but found that a change of thought based on Biblical principles changed not only a mental state, but a physical one also.

Her research and practice of a spiritually based method of health and healing created a stir throughout a world hungering for the answer to such a question of how spiritual reliance on an all-loving God could heal as it did in Jesus’ time.

CRISH is preparing for their international conference on the topic of integrating spirituality into health care in 2015. They are looking for ways to support the emergence of a new model that allows for the inner wisdom of both patients and health care workers to be combined with scientific and technological advances for the promotion of health and well-being of patients.

If a patient’s spiritual concerns are taken into account, what might health care look like five years from now? CRISH may open the door to enlighten thought, answer the question, and offer practical steps to building a bridge to treating the whole person – physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Wendy Margolese is a self-syndicated columnist and writes regularly on the relationship between thought, spirituality and health, and trends in that field. She is the media liaison for Christian Science in Ontario. Contact her at Ontario@compub.org. Follow on Twitter: @wmargolese

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