What does Spirituality have to do with health?
After years of nursing practice and personal experience my health care philosophy has shaped itself to include spirituality as an essential component of health and wellness. I’ve spent most of my career working with Aboriginal people and had been introduced to the Medicine Wheel teachings. But it wasn’t until I started my own wellness journey that I realized the importance of spirituality as a component of overall health and wellness.
The Aboriginal teachings of the Medicine Wheel believe that health and wellness require balance in the four directions which include emotional, mental, physical and spiritual dimensions. When there are imbalances, we get symptoms in one or multiple areas. When people struggle with anxiety, they rarely present to me saying “I’m anxious”, they generally complain of chest pain, dizziness or palpitations. Chronic pain sufferers can describe feelings of low mood, hopelessness, insomnia, or poor appetite which can all be indications of depression.
When we only focus on physical symptoms and ignore the other dimensions, we are not helping our patients in their journey to wellness. They will continue to live in a state of illness, never fully resolving patient concerns. I've experienced this personally and seen it professionally more times than I can count.
My journey to health and wellness has been a humbling experience and one that has made me realize that if I only use the medical model as my healthcare philosophy, I’d never achieve wellness, nor would my patients. The medical model is a diagnostic approach that uses symptoms to identify physical injuries or illnesses. It supports the idea of dualism of health or illness and focuses on patient’s weakness or deficiencies versus a patient’s abilities and strengths. It also places the medical system on a pedestal where it is powerful and all knowing, undermining patient empowerment and input into the plan of care (Swaine, 2011).
I learned quickly that to achieve health and wellness I needed maintain balance in the four directions. This is a never-ending task which is why I refer to it as unmasking and evolving. I don’t think I’m alone with feeling like traditional medicine alone has failed me. But swinging to far the other way using only alternative medical therapies didn’t sit right with me either. I wanted to use both, but I felt a pull between the two, like two small children pulling me in opposite directions. I felt guilty for not committing to one or the other. I was embarrassed to share my beliefs with my physician colleagues, who would think I was bonkers for doing anything not backed by solid scientific evidence.
I think this is a relatable battle for most people. This podcast blog will use a very wholistic lens to approach health and wellness and it will include both tradition medical approaches as well as alternative therapies. The idea is to use all tools available to achieve wellness so that we can step into our power and live authentically.
Why is spiritual wellness important?
Spiritual health is the aspect of our well-being that focuses on the values, the relationships, and the meaning and purpose of our lives. Most people equate spirituality with religion, but this isn’t always the case. Spirituality isn’t going to cure illness or disease, but it does provide the foundation and support that enables an individual to go from dissonance and hopelessness to a sense of wellbeing and wholeness. It helps a person gain insight, self-understanding, and a better grasp of life to answer the BIG questions like “WHY ME?” or “WHATS MY PURPOSE?”. A deep spiritual connection can help someone keep going when they may be presented with what others may see as insurmountable challenges.
For me it gives me a greater level of acceptance, helps me release control and assists me in trusting myself and the universe. This releases the burden of feeling like I’m in control and responsible for everything good or bad in my life. Instead spirituality shifts my perspective to believe that I am exactly where I need to be and that everything happens for a reason. It helps me see that challenges are lessons and not roadblocks or failures on my part. It gets me out of my logical mind and in tune with my heart, body and nature.
There are many spiritual tools out there and many have become quite trendy and mainstream, yoga, crystal jewelry and mediation to name a few.
Spiritual Tools: Astrology and Oracle Cards
Let’s jump into the spiritual realm by discussing astrology and the use of oracle cards. Oracle cards are a tool I use to get in touch with my intuition, something we use a lot as children. As we mature we are taught to ignore this important inner voice; we learn to follow societal norms; we learn that comparison is a better way to make a decision; we learn about “I should” and we ignore our inner self. I also use them to explain, reassure or make sense of life’s challenges, by identifying what the are lessons and why are they important. As a Nurse Practitioner or medical person people are often shocked that I use such a non-scientific, “hocus pocus” tools. All I can say is that I love science and spiritual alternative stuff and if that's not your schtick then perhaps you should stop reading now and check out the more medical scientific content.
Let’s start by discussing the meaning of the current full moon energy. February 8th’s full moon is known as the Moon in Leo or the snow moon in aboriginal tradition, it is also referred to as a super moon. That just means that the moon is brighter because it's closer to the earth and so it's giving off a lot more energy. Full Moon energy is said to affect us physically, emotionally and spiritually but most people say to me, “Oh Shasta you’re ridiculous, that’s not true”. My counter argument is that the moon’s gravitational pull moves the ocean and the sea. Humans are made up of at least 60% water, so how are we not affected? It’s funny my nurse colleagues would all agree in the effect of the full moon because we have all see strange things happen in the emergency room or in long term care facilities.
February is known as the month of love. The current moon is about self love, self confidence, courage, and clarity. It’s about fostering the relationship with ourselves and not always focusing on our external relationship. It wants us to deeply connect with who we are and own it!
Stop apologizing for being you!
This moon will challenge us in our workplaces or relationships if we are tolerating things that don’t align with who we are, or what we need. You may notice that you set boundaries and refuse to accept any form of disrespect, forcing us to be self secure truly trusting ourselves. If we haven’t done the work, then the universe will present us with plenty of opportunities to practice by placing us in difficult situations. If you notice this happening the universe is asking you to speak up, say what you mean, honour yourself and start living life for YOU. Drop the expectation that others have placed upon you and start MARCHING to your OWN DRUM!
Stop GIVING a F*$&!
See these struggles as an opportunity to UNMASK and EVOLVEinto your authentic self. Connecting with ourselves is the purest expression of love.
The full moon is also known to cause both physical and emotional symptoms. This awareness has been incredibly helpful for me to understand why things occur. It gives me reassurance as to why people may respond the way they do. It also allows me to accept having insomnia, brain fog, irritability, negative thoughts. Other’s may exhibit impulsive or irrational behavior and the results of this is what we see in the emergency room. On a positive note the excess energy can inspire profound creativity.
On the physical side, nausea, digestive issues, headache, flare-ups of autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus symptoms can occur, back and joint pain may worsen. To clarify I’m not justifying anyone’s bad behavior with the moon. I don't believe women should use their period as an excuse to go full-on bitch mode during their cycle. What it does do is remind me to show compassion and loving kindness to people who are struggling.
This knowledge allows me to be more self-aware during this time of the month and allows me to focus inward and to increase my self-care. It’s not the time of the month to be booking a ton of extra meetings, running myself ragged, over exercising or pushing myself beyond exhaustion. It’s a time I focus on slowing down which includes resting, simplifying my schedule, focusing on sleep instead of trying to strong will it and push myself which can lead to overwhelming emotions, thoughts and reactionary behaviours.
I struggle with slowing down because, for me, being productive is important. Laying in bed and being lazy is difficult, but I’m learning and getting better at it. It's an important time let go of right fighting, it's just better to walk away and not respond. The energy won’t allow people to see or hear your point of view and you won’t be able to do the same. During this time increase your gratitude, work on our positivity and really trying to extinguish those negative thoughts because they can be heightened at this time of the month.
WOW you must be worried about the effect of full moon energy now. I assure you it brings positive things with it like the heightening of our gifts and abilities. This occurs because the veil between the physical and spiritual realm is quite thin and so for people who are quite intuitive experience the abilities magnified.
The other neat thing about the moon is it’s a reflection of what you tried to manifest six months ago. For me last summer I was dreaming of starting a business and putting that out to the universe. I’ve now done that! Amazing right? I obviously couldn’t have done it alone and am thankful for my business coach and my first coaching client Nicole Roy for supporting me. The full moon is powerful and it’s a great time to manifest your dreams. To do that ground yourself, I like to smudge and do a guided meditation of me connecting with Mother Earth. I then take a piece of paper and start to write my dreams for my work, family, relationship. Once I’m done, I burn it and release it to the universe.
Let’s change gears and discuss oracle cards now. I have multiple decks but currently I’m most drawn to The Yogic Path by Sahara Rose. I like this deck because it is practical and provides awesome guidance, also I find the art on the cards beautiful. I’ve pulled the following card for us to focus on for the next week.
This is an amazing card and aligns with the theme of our previous discussion of the full moon. It's about love, specifically self-love. The reality is that many of us are not connected to ourselves, many of us do not treat ourselves well. The journey to self is the most important trek we will take and without it we will never step into our power and live authentically.
We need to be our own biggest cheerleader, we need to be our best friend, we need to be connected to ourselves in order to achieve the relationships off our dreams. Our relationship with ourselves is the most important one we will ever have.
So, this week in honour of Valentine's Day, I ask you to start to just be aware of how you speak to yourself, that's it! Be aware of how your thoughts and words to yourself filter into your day. How they catapult you towards your dreams or hold you back.
Start by observing your thoughts as you get out of the shower.
Then ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Is this true?
2. Is this necessary?
3. Is this kind?
We are perfectly imperfect, we are messy, we get tripped up, we don't always come from a place of love and that's OKAY. Connecting with ourselves requires unconditional love and self compassion. It's about being honest, apologizing when we are wrong, forgiving in general but most of all ourselves.
Thanks for reading.
Wishing you a wonderful week ahead.
The next podcast blog will dive into the physical dimension and address women’s heart health.
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