It has been scientifically established that human beliefs, which form part of spirituality, may enhance general wellbeing, especially during periods when humans are faced with health challenges. Psychological fortitude, mental stamina and a strong sense of optimism, driven by one’s religious inclinations, may increase healing speed in persons with trauma and other forms of physical or psychological injury.
Many religions of the world propagate the worldview that embracing and living according to the will of God provide an everlasting insurance cover from the infirmities of this world. For Christians, in particular, there are many biblical references which show that God is self-sufficient in ensuring that those who truly believe in Him enjoy good health, even when they are confronted with the stark reality of sickness. He is referred to as the Balm of Gilead and has been celebrated in many gospel songs as the Master Healer. It is believed that meditation and constant devotion to God through prayer, praise and worship can alleviate certain emotional conditions and bring healing to the mind and body.
During the Romantic Literature era, most popular poets and writers were deeply connected to the rationalisation of nature as a great source of creative inspiration that let loose the muses in them. To a large extent, many of them found a profound sense of spirituality in nature, from which they later developed the concept of pantheism in Romantic Literature. They held strongly to the belief that nature was the centre of all life and an intertwining part of divinity.
Poets like Wordsworth, Coleridge, Keats, Tennyson and Blake found unparalleled succour in nature whenever they were faced with situations that compromised their emotional freedom. To access emotional healing and stability, they embraced nature. It was either by watching the ocean waves roll or listening to the sweet songs of the birds. Essentially, the nature-divinity nexus brought about some kind of therapeutic experience. For some of them, meditation was all they needed to escape from the emotional trauma that haunted them. The concept of escapism which was very popular with romantic poets also shaped the attitudinal orientation of many writers of that age.
According to WebMD – a popular health-based website – “Any condition that is caused or worsened by stress can be alleviated through meditation, says cardiologist Herbert Benson, MD, well known for three decades of research into the health effects of meditation. He is the founder of the Mind/Body Institute at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The relaxation response [from meditation] helps decrease metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and improves heart rate, breathing, and brain waves. Tension and tightness seep from muscles as the body receives a quiet message to relax.
There is scientific evidence showing how meditation works. In people who are meditating, brain scans called MRI have shown an increase in activity in areas that control metabolism and heart rate. Other studies on Buddhist monks have shown that meditation produces long-lasting changes in the brain activity in areas involved in attention, working memory, learning, and conscious perception.”
In Nigeria and many African countries where people suffer from poverty-induced depression, the sight or possession of money can trigger incredible recovery and this makes some people ignorantly worship money as the centre of their existence. Of course, it can be argued that the possession of money improves mental health because the lack of it could spell doom; yet, money can never give the reassuring peace that comes from embracing God as the backbone of one’s existence.
There is, indeed, a powerful nexus between spirituality and health, especially now that the world is overburdened with many cares, particularly the noisome pestilence of COVID-19. Spirituality offers the best form of solace, even as we explore therapeutic options and take necessary precautions.