The days when spirituality was something that people didn’t discuss openly are long gone. Open any magazine, and you’re likely to find an article promoting the benefits of yoga, meditation, prayer, gratitude lists, etc.
And for good reason.
Spiritual Practice can Increase Positive Attributes
Researchers have verified that a spiritual practice can increase positive attributes such as empathy and compassion. Perhaps more surprisingly, they have established that spirituality generates a host of physical, emotional, and mental benefits as well.
You may be wondering, what, exactly, it means to be spiritual. Simply put, spiritual people engage with the divine on a personal, experiential level through practices of their choosing.
It’s important to note that, for spiritual people, the Divine doesn’t necessarily mean God. For example, they may define it as their higher self, the universe, or nature.
Obviously, spirituality encompasses practices such as prayer, meditation, and yoga. But there are many less evident spiritual activities, such as tai chi, keeping a gratitude journal, affirmations, connecting with nature and volunteering, that may be more in keeping with your personality.
Regardless of which spiritual practice you choose, “practice” is the operative word. Select one activity, learn how to do it properly, and dedicate a manageable amount of time to doing it daily; in time, you may experience a variety of unexpected benefits.
The following are a few of the key benefits that you’re likely to attain as a result of your spiritual practice.
Lower Cortisol Levels
Elevated levels of the hormone cortisol have been linked to numerous health problems, including weight gain, diabetes, fertility issues, and migraines. Research proves that “Mindfulness meditation lowers the cortisol levels in the blood suggesting that it can lower stress and may decrease the risk of diseases that arise from stress.” 1
Positive Changes in Aging
Mindfulness meditation is also linked to positive changes in “inflammation, immunity, and biological aging.” 2
Neuroimaging studies indicate that “training in psychological activities, such as meditation, changed the structure of the precuneus…,” a region of the brain associated with happiness. 3
Neuroimaging also proved that mindfulness meditation practitioners have smaller amygdalas, which has been associated with reduced stress, anxiety and worry. 4
Researchers proved that individuals who practice loving-kindness meditation develop greater compassion by “exercising” regions of the brain associated with empathy. 5
If you’re a spiritual person, hopefully, this article will confirm that you’re on the right track. If you’re not, perhaps now is the time to incorporate a spiritual practice into your daily routine. Not just for your spiritual welfare, but for the myriad physical, emotional, mental, and social benefits that you’ll gain from your practice.
1. J Med Assoc Thai. 2013 Jan;96 Suppl 1:S90-5.
2. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jun; 1373(1): 13-24.
3. Sato, W. et al. “The structural neural substrate of subjective happiness.” Sci. Rep. 5. 2015 16891; doi: 10.1038/srep16891
4. Adrienne A. Taren, J. David Creswell, Peter J. Gianaros. doi.org/10.1371/ journal. pone.0064574
5. Lutz A, Brefczynski-Lewis J, Johnstone T, Davidson RJ (2008) “Regulation of the Neural Circuitry of Emotion by Compassion Meditation: Effects of Meditative Expertise.” PLoS ONE 3(3): e1897. doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.000189