Debra Chew: How To Engage Your Spiritual Nature To Improve Your Health

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - by Debra Chew

If there was a way to improve your health by changing the way you think about things, would it be worth it to you?  So, what if you are clueless about how to nurture your spirit and make choices that will make you spiritually and physically healthier?  There are some simple thought-changing exercises you can do on a daily basis to nurture your spirit and body - and therefore improve your health.  

When we nurture the spirit it has a definite effect on the body.  Dr. Scott Morris, of the Church Health Center of Memphis, encourages people to “realize that the spiritual dimension of our lives affects health just as much as the physical limitations of our bodies and the ever-present fear of disease and aging.”  As we grow in spirit, that spiritual wellness can spill over into physical wellness.  Dr. Morris also agrees with the founder of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, in the aspect of her teachings “that point to a spiritual dimension to life that must be nurtured for improved health.”

I understand that getting healthier means so many different things to so many different people.  I find that when I focus my thinking on some simple daily exercises that nurture my spirit rather than on the physical limitations I might be facing in my body, I can achieve a healthier me. Here’s just one experience that proved this to me.  

As a young woman, I suffered from stomach ulcers from time to time.  This was always medically treated and I would be better, but never completely well.  As I was growing in my spiritual life, I began to think about how I could find relief from the ulcers that had limited me for some time.  It occurred to me that healing the body often begins with changing the thinking.  I had been told ulcers are linked to stress and stressful thoughts, so I started there.  I began to pray when I felt stress.  I started avoiding the resentful thoughts I had been entertaining, and replaced the negative thinking I was doing with kind and joyful thoughts.  It’s been many years now and I no longer have ulcers.  Nurturing my spiritual nature definitely had a direct effect on my physical wellness.      

Here are some of the exercises I find most helpful: 

Prayer.  Prayer helps me grow spiritually and understand more about my relationship to the Divine.  Part of my daily prayer’s focus is concentrating on what it means to be the reflection of God and my belief that God is all good and that there is no opposite of that good.  Sickness and disease are certainly not good.  Mindfulness helps to reduce stress I might be feeling when I turn my focus away from my body to spiritual thoughts.  I express gratitude for God’s goodness and avoid thoughts of resentment when I am praying. 

Achieving balance.  Whew!  In an age when we are constantly on the go with work, family, and life in general, finding balance is almost as tough as reconciling our checkbook!  I make sure that my day includes time for everything on my To Do List but I insist on time for prayer, spiritual study, family and community. 

Being positive. I don’t mean ‘being positive’ like some old cliché …. I mean more along the lines of what Paul counseled the Philippians, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  I find if I am thinking ‘on these things,’ there is no room for thoughts that are unhealthy. 

Even after contemplating my exercises, you might still ask yourself:  Does spirituality really even have a place in how I care for my health? Well, I am not the only one who believes – and has evidence - that it does.  According to a 2007 survey taken by the National Institute of Health, 56 percent of 2,000 practicing U.S. physicians believed that religion and spirituality had health benefits. Many of them have seen it in their practice and in study results. I want those benefits!  In the course of my busy life, I want to make sure I am feeding my spirit…nurturing my spirit…and thinking good things that will make me spiritually healthy and therefore physically healthy.  You can, too.   

Debra Chew is a self-syndicated columnist and writes about the connection between thought, spirituality and health.  She has been published in the, Memphis Commercial Appeal, and in the UK.  She is a Christian Science practitioner and also the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science for TN.  You can contact her at

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