Spirituality and Healing
Just as there are no atheists in fox holes, I think there are no atheists who have been diagnosed with cancer. Or, to be more thoughtful and clear, there is no one who has not thought about God who has been diagnosed with cancer. There surely have been people who have decided that S/He does not exist. It interests me that this is a topic that is rarely discussed and even actively avoided in many groups or therapeutic conversations. Sex and money are easier conversations than religion. This probably reflects our own discomfort as well as our worry about probing in tender, private territory or being somehow hurtful.
In my group for women with advanced breast cancer, this does come up frequently. One group member is a self-described "yuppie lawyer" who is now in Divinity School, and her presence may stimulate some of the conversation. Although, as I think about it, we talked often about faith and belief before she joined us. This group of women may be particularly comfortable with one another or perhaps their serious illness makes these questions even more pressing.
This is an excerpt from a Living Beyond Breast Cancer discussion about spirituality and healing.
August 2012 Ask the Expert: Spirituality and Healing
Question: I don't practice any organized religion right now, but I'm feeling the need for a spiritual element in my life. How do I go about finding out what is right for me? There are so many practices out there that I'm not
sure where to start.
Rev. Jarvis: A good place to start is by looking at the spiritual beliefs with which you were raised and asking yourself where you are with those beliefs now. You may be surprised to find that your beliefs have changed or even more surprised to find that they are the same. If you haven't been raised with any beliefs, then what resonates with you? Ask yourself the following:
- How do I view life?
- What do I think about pain and difficulty in life?
- What do I think happens when I die?
- Where do I find meaning in my life?
- What do I need to nurture my spiritual life? A supportive community? Spiritual direction? Solitude?
Don't underestimate the value of a supportive community-a church, a sangha, a temple community. Some think that organized religion consists of a bunch of mindless drones who all believe the same thing. In fact, my experience is that it is a group of people who are actively exploring their spiritual beliefs and seeking to live them out with support from one another.
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