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Natural Awakenings Fairfield & Southern Litchfield Counties

Seeking Spirituality for Better Mental Health

Oct 31, 2022 09:31AM ● By Elizabeth Raver DeCesare
Until recently, interest in mental health has taken a back seat relative to other medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, AIDS, measles and more. Today’s informed patients play a more active role in their medical care, including mental health. As a result, the widespread use of pharmaceuticals to treat mental illness is being questioned. This is especially important because many of these drugs can produce negative side effects, including dependencies.

In the past, mental illness was often attributed to chemical imbalances or genetics. Today our understanding is more nuanced and multi-faceted, as it takes into account the environment, nutrition, physical activity, sleep patterns, stress and even spirituality.

The importance of spirituality in mental health and well-being cannot be overstated. Sacred moments occur when an individual experiences a connection with something greater than one’s self. Words used to describe sacred moments include divine, transcendent, boundless and interconnectedness; emotions include sublime, joy, awe, reverence and peace.

In the study “The Experience of Sacred Moments and Mental Health Benefits Over Time” published in Psychology of Religion and Spirituality this year, researchers have found that the more often sacred moments are experienced, the more likely a person will enjoy high levels of mental health. Sacred moments lead to positive emotions, less depression, less anxiety, the perception of lower stress and the sense of life having greater “meaning and purpose”.

In his book, Science and Spiritual Practices, Dr. Rupert Sheldrake offers seven ways to practice spirituality: meditation, gratitude, nature, plants, rituals, music and pilgrimages and holy places.

involves the practice of letting go of thoughts and living in the present. By quieting the mind, consciousness expands beyond everyday awareness. Meditation can enable one to experience things indescribably beautiful containing a sense of connectedness to the infinite.

can bring people great happiness and joy. For many spiritual people, the universe and our earth exists due to a great and creative intelligence of which we owe gratitude. Similarly, gratitude for others brings joy, as it expresses that there is more to life than pure materialism.

can produce deep healing and calming effects. The magic of song birds, the turn of the seasons, the awe of a thunderstorm or a radiant sunrise has the power to remind us that there is more to life than materialism. Interestingly, the Latin word “natura” means birth, thereby implying source of life. Shooting stars, the Milky Way, constellations and the movement of the planets can even impart a cosmic connection in us.

transmit a sense of the spiritual of which examples abound: Buddhist and ancient Egyptian Lotus flowers, roses representing the Virgin Mary and flowers in Hindu ceremonial worship. Trees include the biblical Sycamore, Druidic Oak and Buddhist Bodhi. Henry David Thoreau, known for his book Walden, describes his forest and wildlife experiences at Walden Pond, Massachusetts. For many people, the Fibonacci sequence, which is commonly found in nature, demonstrates a spiritual side of mathematics.

help us to connect with our spiritual ancient past. Many religious ceremonies use ancient languages: Hindu Poojas are held in Sanskrit and Coptic Church services in the ancient Egyptian language. Passover commemorates the night before ancient Jewish people were freed from slavery in Egypt. Holy Communion honors Christ’s last supper, which itself was a Passover ceremony. Greetings often have a ritualistic sense: “Namaste” means “I bow to the divine in you” and the Hebraic phrase “Shalom Aleichem” means “Peace be with you.” Many rituals become part of daily life, thereby serving as spiritualistic lifestyles.

since ancient times, has played a quintessential role in spirituality and well-being. According to Hinduism, the universe was formed by sounds, with “om” playing a major role. The Greek Pythagoreans believed that music connects mathematics (quantitative/objective) with intuitive (qualitative/subjective) experiences. Today, music therapy can help with depression, pain management, anxiety and other mental health concerns. Islam’s Sufi Whirling Dervishes combine chanting, music and swirling body movements to produce ecstasy in devotees. Churches, synagogues, temples and other places of worship incorporate music into their practices. Similarly, many holistic centers offer gong healing and shamanic drumming, to create a sense of well-being. Even attending a concert, opera or ballet can inspire a sense of the sacred.

Pilgrimages and holy places
are located all over the world: Islam’s Mecca, India’s holy Ganges River, Stonehenge and Avebury in England, ancient Egyptian temples, sacred Japanese Shinto temples and Wyoming’s Bighorn Medicine Wheel. However, pilgrimages need not be world famous as more modest places can instill in seekers a sense of spirituality. Sometimes a quiet retreat alone or with a few friends to a forested area or a local lake can uplift one’s heart and mind into experiencing sacred moments.

Clearly, spirituality is an important component of mental health and well-being. Especially in today’s materialistic world, spiritual practices have the potential to help people rise above materialism in order to live life with purpose and meaning, happiness and joy.

Elizabeth Raver, Ph.D., is a medium, energy worker, clairvoyant and trance worker. Connect at 203-400-9212, [email protected] or See ad, page 12.

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Elizabeth Raver DeCesare, PhD

Evidential Psychic Medium, PhD Psychology, Loving Heart Connections Facilitator (, American Association of Psychics ( and Holistic... Read More »