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DEFINITIONS

What is Spirituality?

Spirituality is an external integrative multidimensional expression of one's beliefs within one's interior landscape offering an orientation and disposition of the 'heart' in relation to God, self, others, and all of creation. Spirituality is one's beliefs and perceptions put into action.  KSW

What is Health?*

"Health is a dynamic tension towards physical, mental, social, and spiritual harmony, and not only the absence of illness, which gives man the ability to fulfill the mission which has been entrusted to him, according to the state of life in which he finds himself.

Saint Pope John Paull II, Feb 2000

What is Self-Care

Self-care is a chosen behavior that is under one's control, deliberate, and self-initiated to support and promote good health and general well-being. It is an essential component of the management of chronic illness. Such is the role of a healthcare provider in supporting the patient's agency and enablement.

 

"Self-care is a proactive, holistic, and personalized approach to the promotion of health and wellbeing through a variety of strategies, in both personal and professional settings..." (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5907186/)

What is Mind/Body Medicine?

"Mind-body medicine focuses on the interactions among the brain, mind, body, and behavior, and on the powerful ways in which emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and behavioral factions can directly affect health. It is regarded as a fundamental approach that respects and enhances each person's capacity for self-knowledge and self-care, and it emphasizes techniques that are grounded in this approach." National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM)

What is Stress?

Stress is an experience in which our body adjusts physically, cognitively, and emotionally to it, and depending upon the stimuli, their intensity and duration, and our response, it will have a positive or negative impact on our nervous system.  KSW

What is the Relaxation Response?

"The Relaxation Response is a state, elicited by mind-body techniques, characterized by decreased oxygen consumption, decreased heart rate, and decreased respiratory rate which offsets the effect of stress" (Herbert Benson, 1971). These techniques can be used to combat stress in a wide array of stress-initiated or stress-exacerbated illnesses. 

What is Resiliency? 

Resiliency in the clinical sense is our capacity to recover from stress – mental or physical – and our ability to cope or adapt.

What is Neurogenesis and Neuroplasticity?

We have a brain that can change itself. Neuroplasticity is the term used by scientists and clinicians to describe the brain's miraculous ability to rewire itself and create new connections that bypass areas that may be injured or damaged by disease. It's the brain's ability to re-wire itself when challenged in a positive way.  Neuroplasticity is the 'muscle-building process' part of the brain. Repeating a thought or action increases its staying power, and over time, it becomes automatic, a part of us.

 

Our brains are continuously being shaped by our experiences throughout life.  With every repetition of a thought or emotion (be it positive or negative), we reinforce a neural pathway or it creates a new one. Small incremental changes, repeated frequently enough, lead to changes in how our brains work.

 

We become what we think and do. Therefore, what you think, do, and see matters.

What do Christians believe about the Body?

"As Catholics, we believe the human person is made of a body and a soul, both of which are sacred. Our immortal soul is the invisible part of us which gives us life. Our mortal body is the visible part of us that communicates that life to all around us.

 

St. John Paul II explained this by saying, "The body reveals the person." Our reverence for the body is expressed in the Sacraments: the body is "washed in baptism, anointed with the oil of salvation, and fed with the Bread of Life" (CCC n. 412).

 

We believe that the body is so truly a part of "who we are" that the soul is not meant to be without it forever, and at the end of time, our bodies will be reunited with our souls in the resurrection of the body." (Diocese of Bridgeport article)

Meditation

Meditation has many definitions depending on its context.

 

Centering Meditation is either a brain exercise or an act of prayer.  As an act of prayer, it is also a brain exercise.   Its method would depend upon the particular religion and its different traditions.

 

Both have the same physical health benefits while adding a faith factor' (Herbert Benson, MD) has proved to have an increased biopsychosocial benefit.

 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a brain exercise since it focuses on one's outer world and inner landscape (thoughts, emotions, and feelings) practiced in a detached, non-judgmental way (which helps to stop the internal critic from taking off and chattering away with abusive, self-defeating thoughts). A 'meditative method' that employs the concepts used in Mindfulness training to deal with intrusive thoughts that will come along is effective.

 

The concern and issue with Mindfulness is a non-judgemental aspect, for we need to be aware of what thoughts are and where they are coming from and to make a moral decision with God.

 

It is an excellent tool to increase 'awareness,' which can lead to more of an awareness of God's creative ongoing action in our life.

Note on Savoring

Since we have a propensity for negativity due to an embedded evolutionary survival mechanism, we will store an adverse event immediately in our long-term memory, while positive experiences most often are left in our short-term memory.  To help move positive experiences into our long-term memory, we need to spend a certain amount of time to allow them to sink in – in other words, hold them onto ourselves for 10-20 seconds in the form of savoring those thoughts (images and words) and feelings that have arisen. This is when neuroplasticity takes place.

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