My journey of healing has helped me realize that religion is a vehicle for experiencing the human condition of spirituality and connectedness. I say this because growing up as a Catholic in a highly toxic family made religion seem hypocritical and evil to me as a child. For most of my adult life, I have rejected religion, but have embraced spirituality, but never knew why until now. Now that I have a clear mind, it is much easier to accept religion as a human practice or vehicle to create a community of connectedness with others. The more we think of our life in terms of others and in making a difference for others and the greater good, we experience our own spirituality in very positive ways. Peace of mind is a blessing to be sure…
If we can agree and understand spirituality as a human condition, moral injury and the pain of readjusting to life after war in the case of combat veterans is abundantly clear. Humans must maintain a sense of balance with the innate moral compass or “right vs. wrong.” When our spiritual moral compass takes a person south rather than north, one may suffer from the painful symptoms of PTSD. That’s why healing from moral injury is a journey, often for a lifetime.
The following is taken from a document entitled “Issues of Spirituality in Medical Care”, sent to me by a close friend and psychiatrist who has been a tremendous help to me on my journey of healing. I appreciate the opportunity to think of the choice of religious beliefs and philosophies as a complementary and more structured way to experience true spirituality and peace of mind…
I also recommend the book Spiritual Evolution by George Vaillant, M.D. Take a look by going to the referenced Amazon.com link above…
All the unique features of a human being (vs. animals) in their totality are what constitute the spirit of a person. When an individual exercises these unique features, he or she is being spiritual.Thus, spirituality is simply the implementation of those distinctive features that separate humans from animals. (p.4)
1.Capacity of free will; to make free moral choice
2.Pursuit of contentment with the willingness to sacrifice personal comfort and physical contentment for a purpose or goal.
3.Capacity to consciously reflect on oneself and make a conscious effort to improve oneself, thus improving self-esteem.
4.Ability to work on growth of ones character guided by conscious effort; self-improvement by activating dormant and unrecognized assets; maximizing that which is “within”.
5.Spiritual beings are those who are aware of their history, and who can, therefore, aspire to the greatness of their forebears while also avoiding repetition of their mistakes.
6.Capacity to think about a purpose for their existence, to contemplate their purpose in life, a reason for living. [Note research evidence of purpose in life associated with greater resilience and potential for recovery after traumatic events.]
7.Respecting the rights of others and thus refraining from trying to dominate or control others.
8.Conscious concept of time, acknowledging it as a precious commodity, and irreplaceable resource; a spiritual life is one that is goal-directed.
9.Attribute of honesty
10.Constructive anger management
11.A sense of Divine Providence
12.Patience and perseverance
13.For those of faith, exercising a life of prayer that is the vehicle whereby the soul is brought closer to God. Such faith produces its own energy and propels the faithful toward a richer and nobler life.
14.Joy and gratitude
15.Capacity to worship (some one, purpose or thing other than ourselves) with adoration, prayer, and trust
16.To be at peace (with God, others and ourselves)