When we go to see the GP with a chest infection, we may be thinking that what we need are some antibiotics. Sometimes that may be true – it may be a bacteria causing a response from our body. Very often, though, it is a virus causing our cough and we may be used to that discussion with our GP. Cough – NHS (www.nhs.uk).
Sometimes it may be that the GP asks us about how we are in ourselves – are we coping with life at the moment or are we feeling down? When we are feeling low there are a multitude of things that could be causing that, such as how our friends or family are, whether we are stressed at work or whether we are facing a loss of some kind. Sometimes, that leads us to ask broader questions about life itself and our own life in particular. When we go to seek medical help, we usually want help for a physical problem and sometimes, we discuss our mental health as well as our physical wellbeing. The spiritual side however, is rarely talked or thought about.
The essence of life
The English dictionary describes ‘spiritual’ as; “concerned with, or affecting the spirit or soul”. The word spirit has its root in the Latin word ‘spirare’ which means breath or to breathe, to blow and to live. The word relates to the essence and meaning of life. The spiritual part of life is important and meaningful to us in different ways. Some follow a religion and speak to God as the giver of life, while others experience spirituality through a deep sense of connectedness with nature and people or through creativity. There are different beliefs and people experience spirituality in various ways.
Interconnectedness and purpose
At certain times in life, it may be that considering our spirituality, purpose in life, and connections, helps us take different steps in a new direction e.g.to start volunteering for a project that interests us. This may be part of a recovery period for us, but may continue for a long time afterwards. We are complex beings, interconnected with the world around us. Spiritual does not mean religious. It refers to this interconnectedness and purposefulness. To be seen as a whole person, interdependent in a community, is to be seen as more than a disease inflicted person, but as someone with value, meaning and freedom. This is what we mean by a biopsychosocial and spiritual model. As you wander through your day, consider your own value, purposefulness and freedom and that of those around you. If that causes emotions that are difficult to handle, reach out to people around you. Our community page has links that may be helpful.
Dr Liz Lunt and Corinne Gmuer
Directors, Abound and Flourish Ltd