This year, Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone revealed that she had experienced depression. While promoting her role in the 2011 Lars von Trier film, Melancholia, Kirsten Dunst revealed that she had suffered from the mental illness, as well.
Their admissions added to the list of celebrity disclosures. Carrie Fisher, Angelina Jolie, and Christina Ricci have all shared similar stories. Yet, there is hope for these women and for everyone.
Several years ago, I attended a news briefing where the Wave III Baylor Religion Survey was unveiled. The survey confirmed what I have been discovering: Improved mental health is found through greater spiritual awareness.
Before the press conference, I had the opportunity to talk with Dr. Paul Froese, associate professor of sociology at Baylor University. Froese was part of the research team that studied the connection between mental health and spirituality. He was also one of the participants who shared the survey’s findings.
Froese explained that respondents in the study on mental health, who have strong beliefs about their relationship with God, “have significantly better mental health.” He said the survey discovered, as well, that those who attend religious services regularly have the lowest reported number of mental health issues.
“Until we learn more about our spiritual natures and the divine laws that govern our minds and bodies, we will not see real and lasting improvements”
This study seems to mirror what I have witnessed in my Christian Science healing practice for the past 30 years. I have found that how we think affects how we live. This is why it is imperative that spiritual reasoning, prayer, and religious attendance be recognized for the healing impacts they have on our well-being.
Many individuals suffer needlessly from obsessive-compulsive disorders, social anxiety, stress, and panic attacks. According to a study, more American adults are reporting being disabled by the symptoms of anxiety, depression, or emotional difficulties.
The report, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that people who said they could not accomplish daily tasks or engage in social and leisure activities because of a mental illness jumped from 2 percent in 1999 to 2.7 percent in 2009. The increase amounts to almost 2 million more people disabled by mental challenges in the past decade. As well, loved ones of the mentally ill often deal silently with their fears, frustrations, sorrows, and guilt. Fortunately, we are learning that help is available. And prayer and education can be just the medicines they need.
If spirituality is indeed a key to better mental health, why? I believe it’s because we are created as spiritual beings, first and foremost. And until we learn more about our spiritual natures and the divine laws that govern our minds and bodies, we will not see real and lasting improvements.
It has long been believed that the brain is the cause of consciousness, and as such is what rules mental health. Yet, physicians and researchers are beginning to join those in the spiritual healing practices in accepting that things are not always what they appear to be.
Recently, during a meeting about spirituality’s role in mental health, Dr. Thomas Curry, a licensed psychotherapist in Texas, told me that research is now showing that the brain changes according to one’s thought. He explained, “This phenomena is called neuroplasticity. What makes this interesting is that if the brain directs consciousness, one would think that as the brain changes, consciousness changes. Yet, we know for a fact that consciousness can change first, and then the brain follows suit by re-connecting, or circumventing certain neural pathways. This implies that the brain is an object of thought, and not the thinker.”
This certainly coincides with what I am learning. I find that prayer impacts health because, as radical as it sounds, thought is the engine that essentially forms and drives the body. This is why a significant change of thought leads to adjustments and changes in the body. And prayer, with the power of God behind it, changes thought as nothing else can.
The suffering of so many is disheartening. But an answer is available. Spiritual awareness lets us confidently utilize the spiritual laws that stop the self-destructive nature of materialistic thinking. It nurtures our spiritual sense of things. It replaces fear and panic with wisdom and peace.
Christian healer and the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote, “Prayer brings the seeker into closer proximity with divine Love, and thus he finds what he seeks, the power of God to heal and to save. Jesus said, ‘Ask, and ye shall receive;’ and if not immediately, continue to ask, and because of your often coming it shall be given unto you…”
Yes, I believe a solution is at our fingertips. And more than just hope is available, for many are learning: Improved mental health is found through greater spiritual awareness.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and are not necessarily those of World Religion News.
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