Importance of spiritual health
Dr. Mohammad Fazlul Karim :
The issue of spiritual health has become an important aspect of human life, because it provides answers to many questions related to health and happiness.
World Health Organization (WHO) defined health as a dynamic state of complete physical, mental, spiritual and social well being. Spiritual health, which brings perfection to body and mind, has been termed as the 4th dimension of the health.
So, it can be said that we cannot ignore the spiritual issue if we want healthy and happy life.
Taking into consideration the importance of spiritual aspect of health, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies in Homeopathy (BCASH) arranged a seminar on November 22, 2014 in Dhaka to raise awareness about the spiritual health, including placing a demand for observing the spiritual health day.
The seminar highlighted the importance of spiritual health, urging the authorities concerned to look into the proposal of observing spiritual health day in the country in our greater interest.
The past centuries have been marked by unprecedented development in all spheres of life. This progress in the material world is showing inverse relationship with the health & happiness of the individuals, i.e, the higher the material progress the higher the stress, anxiety and disappointment.
Today stress, anxiety, loneliness as well as high levels of aspirations have become very common in our life. On the other hand, the discrimination between religion, cast & color of human race causes civil war and political disaster.
All over the world there is a constant search for cause of the present physical, mental, social disease & ill-health and its remedies.
Spiritually has been identified globally as an important aspect for providing answers to many questions related to health & happiness.
In more than one decade, there has been a scientific search to determine the relationships between spiritualism and intelligence. Empirical evidence is available to indicate a direct relation between religious and spiritual involvement & positive health outcomes. Positive values, attitudes, beliefs & strength that the individuals acquire through spiritual practices essentially contribute to their health & happiness.
Spiritual practices have a positive co-relation with survival, low blood pressure, less remission time from depression, less number of cigarettes smoked per day/week, less serve medical illness, better quality of life, co-operativeness etc.
In a study conducted among doctors of North India, it was found that 93.48% of the doctors believed that spiritual persons deal better with stress.
There are several assessment instruments, which are mentioned below.
Spiritual well-being scale (SWBS), Elision.
The scale is focusing on religious well-being, reflecting on one's perception & feeling of God, at the same time claiming to be an instrument to measure the spiritual well-being of an atheist. It reflects the inbuilt contradiction in the scale.
Spiritually Assessment Scale (SAS), Beazley. This scale is limited to the organizational situations & dealing with impact of the individuals spiritually on the growth of the organization & not the growth of the individual.
Index of core spiritual experiences, Kass. The scale is limited value having no application of an atheist. It is relevant only for believers.
Before defining health, we should focus on quality mind, the core centre of spirituality.
Indispensable qualities that should accompany the different functions of the mind are - clarity, rationality, coherence & logical sequence; Creative service for the good of others as well as for the good of one self.
A good parameter for measuring the health of an individual is the degree to which he/she is free to create. To creativity for every and the main goal in life is continuous & unconditional happiness.
According to spiritual health type 1, health is freedom from pain in the physical body, having attained a state of well-being, freedom from passion on the emotional level, having as a result a dynamic state of serenity & calm; and freedom from selfishness in the mental sphere, having as a result of total unification with ultimate truth.
According to spiritual health type 2, health is a state of being where an individual is able to deal with day to day life in a manner, which leads to the realization of one's full potential meaning and purpose of life & happiness from within.
The three aspects in the suggested definition namely, "Relation of one's full potential", "Meaning & purpose of life" & "Happiness from within" - corresponds to the three domains of the operational definition are given below.
Self-evolution has been defined as a state of becoming where the individual is analyzing & applying the self in terms of thoughts and actions with respect to the wider perspective & nurturance - art.
Steps of self-evolution anyone can follow to achieve in life. There are five stages of self evolution. These are Step-1-Be self-aware, Step-2-Decide, Step-3-Commitment, Step-4-Action, Step-5 -Evolution.
Self-actualization has been defined as reality to state of being where the individual is consciously aware & responds to the situation, event, people & environment with engineering from within & deeper meaning -purpose of life.
Following are the Hierarchy of Maslow's personality profile model: i. Biological & physiological needs. ii. Safety needs. iii. Love and belonging needs. iv. Esteem needs. v. Self-actualization needs. vi. Cognitive needs. vii. Esthetic. viii. Transcendence needs.
Transcendence has been defined as a state of inner happiness & behaving accordingly through universal love - sublimating jealousy & considering oneself as a part of the supreme (beyond self).
32 parameters of spiritual health were selected at three levels of physiological functional - cognitive affective & behavioral. A check list of the parameters was prepared from various fields of organizational experts. 98 percent of the respondents agreed that those were the parameters of spiritual health.
A total of 27 determinants of spiritual health have been identified for this study, which includes:
Commitment (being responsible in all situations); Introspection (understanding oneself deeply); Honesty (beings fair to self & to others); Creativity (giving expressions to one's potential); Contemplation (thinking about higher issues of life); Prayer (seeking recourse in the supreme); Philanthropy (supporting the deserving); Extending self (expressing concern for social causes beyond self); Empathy (behaving beyond sympathy).
It also includes yoga & exercise (being concerned for total health); Questioning Injustice (asserting for right cause); Aesthetics (admiring and indulging indifferent foams of art); Value of time (catching every moment); Being away from comparisons (not indulging in unhealthy evaluation); Human values (expressing concern for human dignity & welfare); Courage (dealing with sufferings & problems boldly); Managing Ego (awareness of through & action); Humor (inculcating joy in life).
The determinants include involvement with detachment (performing without attachment); Six sense (listening to one's inner self); Virtues (growing positively); Sensitivity (responding to people & environment with sense of welfare); Purpose of one's life (understanding one's being); Compassion (getting into miseries of others); Pure feelings (showing unconditional love); Faith in supreme (surrendering to the divine); Self action (working in the name of the supreme).
Regarding cognitive affective & behavioral determinations, it can be said that the set of determinants for the spiritual health scale have been evolved at 3 levels of psychological functioning: cognitive (thinking level), affective (feeling level) & behavioral (action level).
(The author is Convener of World Spiritual Health Day Declaration Movement, and Vice-chairman, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies in Homeopathy (BCASH).