Spirituality vs Religion

Spirituality is any practice, as selected by the individual as suitable for him/her, to help quiet the mind (left brain monkey chatter), open the heart (awareness of the right brain and higher superconscious mind), to connect with something greater than one’s normal sense of self as separate from others. This connection can be called God, Source, The Field, Universe, etc. Fleeting moments of joy, happiness, peace and calm are indications of accessing this connection. Spirituality is not a goal oriented endeavour, but a daily journey into your own being. Trying too hard, will only make you give up. Simply take time (even 5 minutes as a start), do it every day and become quiet. You’ll notice the difference in your life very quickly.

Religion is born out of moments of radical insight, but then later, devolves into systems of dogma, rules, regulations and beliefs, that turn the original insight into an event to worship, rather than an experience to recreate. The religious experience is everyone’s birthright, but paradoxically, we brace ourselves against the experience through strict rules, rigid practice and specific beliefs, often far removed from the insight, teachings, or intent of the originator of the specific religion. Religion often leads to holding back the inner force of the soul yearning to break through, and we tragically refer to religious text and tradition to justify this denial of our inner being. Many people find sense of community and belonging in specific religions, often also deep meaning and purpose for their lives, which is an important part of our sense of wellbeing, but we have to be very careful not to judge others of different (or no specific) religions or beliefs, as that is contrary to all religions’ philosophy of tolerance, of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself’, not change your neighbour as yourself, and then love him/her!

My advice: steer clear of spiritual wellness interventions with any particular religious content. The workplace has people from all cultures, creeds and religions. To favour one religion over another, will only lead to discontent, unhappiness and a sure failure of your program – the last thing you want! Rather focus on program content that uses the universal principles found in all and no, religions, such as love and kindness towards all others (not only the select few in our inner circles, that believe as we do!), understanding of others’ ways, contact with nature, exploring all the many ways to connect to your Source (meditation and art of prayer classes for example), ways to move from left brain rational thinking, to right brain soul connection, using progressive deep relaxation practices, starting with simple 2-3 minute breathing exercises, to 30 minute practice of being quiet and still. Even your physical wellness interventions can lead to more awareness and tuning in to soul through the body: e.g. yoga, tai ‘chi, dances like Nia technique, Biodanza, bellydancing, any movement done to mood music – freely moving like the leaves and branches of a tree, to feel your inner being and emotions expressed through your body.

The physical state of health (health or illness) is only the tip of the iceberg. The true origin of dis-ease or health, lies beneath the surface. Even lifestyle & behaviour lie close to the surface. That is why it’s so difficult to adopt a healthy lifestyle! We try to do it with willpower. It doesn’t work. The real level we have to work on is the level of thoughts, emotions and beliefs. This level also connects us to our soul or spiritual level, and ultimately to our Source of Wellbeing, Inner Being, God or our concept of something bigger and greater than our physical separate sense of self or ego. When we allow the Grace of God into our lives, to change our old, stuck brain patterns and belief systems, to help us  reprogam our subconscious mind for health, wealth and happiness, it is through this power alone that we can heal from the inside out.

Extract from Dr Arien van der Merwe, medical doctor, health coach, specialist health & wellness service provider and author..(healthstresswellness.com)

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