In my previous article I shared some tips about how to increase your spirituality and attain the health benefits that go along with it. To further drive the point home, I want to share a recent study that was published in The Journal of Science and Healing that emphasizes just how powerful spirituality can be.
This article describes how attending a non-denominational spiritual retreat has been shown to significantly lower depression and increase hope in heart patients with severe heart conditions.
This study compared three groups who participated in three different types of treatment for patients with heart conditions. The first group participated in a four day spiritual retreat that utilized meditation, journaling, guided imagery, drumming and the outdoors to aid in healing.
The second group simply received standard cardiac care, while the third group participated in a lifestyle change retreat focusing on exercise and nutrition as well as stress management for healing.
Of all of these groups, the individuals who participated in the spiritual retreat had the most positive results.
Using the Beck Depression Inventory, a method used to measure severity and depth of depression, the study found that the participants in the spiritual retreat group attained the greatest decrease of depression when compared to the other two groups.
In addition to the decrease of depression in spiritual retreat participants, they also had a drastic increase of hope, as measured by the State Hope Scale. This increase proved to be significantly higher than the other groups.
These results came immediately after the retreat and lasted through the next six months of follow-ups.
Sara Warber, director of the University of Michigan’s Integrative medicine program suggests that interventions such as this can provide a positive alternative to antidepressants that are so often prescribed to individuals whose hopelessness and depression accompany their heart disease.
Although this study was strictly done for heart patients, spiritual retreats can increase the health of all individuals. It is important to remember how multi-faceted our health is and how many different ways we can promote wellness.
If you’re not sure how to find a retreat http://www.retreatfinder.com/ is a great tool.
Again, you don’t need a retreat to become more in tune with your spiritual side, or even to reap the health benefits of doing so. Reflect on the tips found in my last article and find your own path to spirituality.
There are tons of books, cds and other media to help, too! For a little empowherment, I listen to an audio version of Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now on my iPod. There are plenty of spiritual teachers that can help you connect to your spiritual side if you’re not involved in any type of spiritual practice already, or even just need a spiritual nudge!
Mainstream science invests so much time, energy, and money in finding a magic bullet, a targeted cure for specific diseases. We already know that mental health has such a great impact on our over-all well-being, and we empowhered women have the tools we need to achieve this!
Beck Depression Inventory -- a Clinical Depression Test. (n.d.). Real Depression Help -- Your Life, Your Chance. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from http://www.real-depression-help.com/beck-depression-inventory.html
Retreat Finder. (n.d.). Retreat Finder: Retreats and Retreat Centers, Retreat Property for Sale and Employment Opportunities . Retrieved September 6, 2011, from
University of Michigan Health System (2011, August 1). Spiritual retreat can lower depression, raise hope in heart patients. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 6, 2011, from
Reviewed September 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith