Monday, October 16, 2017

Spiritual & Religious Care Awareness Week - Oct 16-22, 2017 ...

Spiritual health is the path to inner peace
regardless of the turmoil around you.


Hi Everyone!

This week is Spiritual and Religious Care Awareness (SRCWA) Week in BC. The theme for this year's observance is a timely one, Forgiveness in an Unforgiving World. (See the Canadian Multifaith Federation's SRCWA Handbook "Theme Readings" for an excellent list of resources on forgiveness.)

While a significant portion of the population professes no spiritual leanings at all, most people agree that we humans are endowed with a spirit that requires as much care and attention as our bodies and minds if we are to be fully "well".

Our research shows that those with a strong, nurturing spiritual life are more resilient to the impacts of adversity - our own and others'. Hundreds of rigorous, elegant, peer-reviewed scientific articles show spirituality as the root of wellness in children throughout the first decades of life and beyond.

In her best-selling book, The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving,  Columbia University researcher and author, Lisa Miller, PhD, says that children who have a positive, active relationship to spirituality are 40% less likely to use and abuse substances, 60% less likely to be depressed as teenagers and 80% less likely to have unprotected sex.

At the other end of the developmental spectrum, the Canadian Military Journal reports that, "Whereas religion/spirituality impacts military operations writ large, it can also play a significant part in the healing of individual warriors after those same operations." The US Department of Veteran's Affairs  also cites positive outcomes of healthy spirituality on PTSD and depression in some trauma populations and on the intensity of clinical symptoms like anger, rage and desire for revenge in trauma survivors. Healthy spirituality can also help with meaning making, the processing of guilt and moral injury and grief and bereavement after trauma and loss.

Spiritual and religious care providers are among the least well-recognized helpers in our communities. Those who support others in their spiritual development, particularly through times of crisis -  clergy, spiritual directors or guides, chaplains, pastoral care volunteers and others - may have the benefit of having spiritual resilience practices already in their toolboxes but they are still at risk for compassion fatigue and burnout.

The sheer volume of people seen by spiritual care providers, the traumatic circumstances under which these people often seek support, the need to protect confidentiality, expectations of exemplary reactions and behaviours on their part, and not infrequently, a culture of competition and judgement can all contribute to the symptoms of post traumatic stress, emotional disengagement and loss of capacity for empathy that are the hallmarks of compassion fatigue.

If others' spiritual wellness is at the centre of your helping work, (and even if it isn't) you are warmly invited to attend the next Caring On Empty: Creative Tools for Compassion Fatigue Resilience workshop on Friday October 27th at the Granville Island Hotel in Vancouver, BC. (email Jan for registration forms at

And if the notion of positive spirituality is new to you, or it's been a while since you've thought about it seriously, here are a range of books with ideas you might enjoy exploring:

1.  The Spiritual Child: The New Science on Parenting for Health and Lifelong Thriving  (2015) by Lisa Miller

2.  Embers: One Ojibway's Meditations (2016) by Richard Wagamese

3.  Care of the Soul: A Guide for Cultivating Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life (1992) by Thomas Moore

4.  My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge and Belonging (2000) by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD

5.  Soul Moments: Marvelous Stories of Synchronicity - Coincidences from a Seemingly Random World (1997) by Phil Cousineau

6.  The Spirituality of Nature (2008) by Jim Kainin

And here are a couple of great spiritually-based websites:

1.  Brain Pickings: An Inventory of the Meaningful Life 

2.  On Being: The Big Questions of Meaning

Whatever your personal spiritual leanings, perhaps this would be a good week to nurture that part of your life and to notice and show your appreciation for those who work to provide spiritual solace and support for others' spiritual growth.