Friday, September 24, 2010

Have you gone Mental? (XXVI)

How do you approach your spiritual life? What does spiritual mean to you. What I mean by spiritual is "what it is that animates you? What is it "that gives you life and vitality."

I enjoy the commercial in which actors describe themselves. One said, "Im a Christian, another "I am a Jew", yet another, "I am spiritual." Spirituality does not refer to one's ideology as much as it refers to one's practice of that ideology.

I've staated my opinion that depression-anxiety is a bio-psycho-social-spiritual disorder. Spirituality is a term that has many defiitions. I do not wish to add another. I believe that spirituality is practice of a spiritual life. Keep in mind that this practice is likely little ir non-existant among those who suffer the most in those who suffer depression-anxiety. Some would say that mental health disorders arise from the lack of spiritual practice. I'm not sure I agree its that simple.

In my case I have been a practicing Christian since I was 16 years old and have suffered from two major depressive-anxious episodes in my life. The last was 20 years ago. The effects have continued, kind of below the surface, to the beginning of this long term (9 months in duration, so far). As I look at my life I can look back on practices that were hypocritical, selfish,and that ultimately hurt others in my life. I was a Pastor of a growing congregation at the time. My practice after being dismissed from my congregation, was so negative that one man accused me of not being a Chistian at all.

What comprises a spiritual practice that will help keep us on track? I believe they are as follows:

1. Reading and study of spritual literature to fill ones mind with spiritual truth. One needs to commit to their particular ideology (Christan, Muslim, Jew, or Buddist for ecample) because one's practice is partially dependent on which ideology he or she feels is truth. To float nebulously without identificatoin may cause disaster. Commit to one and practice those prnciples. God will show you if that practice is profitable (nurtuing)to you.

2. Attendance and involvement in spiritual groups such as a church, synogogue, or mosque would be examples. Other would be small discussion groups where the focus is sharing experience of the spiritual life. This could be. the "God" moments where you are certain of divine intervention in your life; as well as your struggles and victories in living by your convictons. Don't jump around. Commit to one and practice for six months to a year. Yes commit...

3. A third would be accountability. To be affective, any spiritual practice requires acountability. The formal and informal involvements are important AND finding a person with whom you can meet weekly or every other week and discuss the particulariies of your spiritual life. This can be as formal as contracting with a Spiritual Director or as informal as meeting with a friend who does not fear calling you on the carpet about your spiritual practices when they drift toward the negative.

4. Journaling and writing affirmations are "private practice". These things could be painful, but would be very profitable if mental health disorders represent a lack of spiritual practice and commitment. It follows that we add this to our lives. At any rate it is worth your time. Additionally these writings could provide discussion material with your Spiritual Director (or chosen accountablity person).

5. Prayer is important in order to connect with God or the univerae or whatever you
view as your "higher power". All individuals with whpm I speak, pray. How they pray and who/what they pray to seems inconsequencial to them. The fact that prayer is a vital part of spiritual growth is an almost univeral belief.

These are five aspects of spiritual practice that have been profitable for me. Each ideeology provides other practices. I am a Chritian and have tried not to push that ideology in this blog. I hope I've accomplished that; even though I think it is the best of the options.

Look into spiritualy if you have not already. Depresson-anxiety is, in part a spiritual disease.

Typos and all, God bless you.

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