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Healing with Spiritual Practices: Proven Techniques for Disorders from Addictions and Anxiety to Cancer and Chronic Pain
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8 Healing with Spiritual Practices They also might cease or reduce physical activity due to feelings of increased stress. They might seek solace in smoking or other addictive behaviors, like gambling. They might feel a loss of self-esteem, and with the feelings of inter- nal negativity, they might seek to create an external bodily reality that reflects the poor inward state they feel—engaging in behaviors like anorexia, cut- ting, or self-harm. On top of this, they might feel guilty and ashamed that they are not coping well, and self-condemnation might lead to negative out- comes on top of other outcomes. Spiritual Effects Wuthnow13 suggests that most people spend the majority of their lives in a state of spiritual dwelling, which is a relatively stable state of relationship with what one considers sacred. However, when inconsistencies arise with their spiritual worldview or congruence with the social aspect of a faith com- munity and their beliefs, practices, or values are called into question, people seek to resolve the inconsistency. That results in a time of seeking. Seeking is usually more stressful relative to dwelling however, sometimes people can become comfortable with seeking. Williamson and Sandage14 has investi- gated this tendency to spiritually dwell or seek. They have examined semi- nary students who often face challenging beliefs and practices relative to what they experienced prior to seminary. When seeking, people can become unmoored from the familiar and stable. They can feel alienated from God (or whatever they call sacred), close relationships, family, and community. When people who value virtue find themselves unable or unwilling to act virtuously, they might feel a sense of inconsistency. People need a coherent sense of self. Thus, the threat of inconsistency creates stress. If the inconsis- tency is not rectified quickly, it can lead to anxiety, depression, anger, and health behaviors that promote illness, not good health. On the other hand, consistency with virtue-promoting values can lead to calm, tranquility, and peace—for example, if a committed Christian acts virtuously in forgiving manifesting humility and being patient, loving, compassionate, self- controlled, sympathetic, and empathic. Those positive feelings promote a broaden-and-build perspective15 and lead to well-being. Spiritually formative practices tend to be prosocial. Thus, they are rein- forced in relationships, groups, communities, and society. Social reinforcement of such virtuous behavior also reaffirms one’s desire to act virtuously and, when one is engaging in vice, heightens the sense of inconsistency and stress. If consistency is important, we might ask what might happen if a person was, by character, vicious. If a vicious person acted consistently with his or her vices, should we expect the person to experience health and well-being? No. Consistency with vice-promoting values does not lead to the same physi- cal and mental health and relational and spiritual outcomes as does