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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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Spiritually Formative Practices and Stress-Related Disorders 9 consistency with virtue-promoting values because society’s values are acting in opposition to the vicious person’s personal values. Society generally pun- ishes behaviors that are consistent with vice. Thus, practicing virtues, by a person who values virtue, brings correspondence, consistency, peace, and relief from stress, as well as better physical, mental, and relational health along with better spiritual health in the long run. Spiritual Formation through Forgiveness and Humility Virtues that govern the strengthening and repair of social bonds, such as forgiveness and humility, provide a key starting place for evaluating our the- orizing on the role of spiritual formation. For both virtues, substantial basic research has set the stage for conducting interventions designed to promote habits that increasingly instill these virtues into relationships with other people of faith. Forgiveness and humility are also virtues that involve persis- tent challenges to maintaining healthy relationships. The consistent practice of forgiveness indicates a commitment to one’s social bonds within a community, even when hurts or disagreements threaten to damage those social bonds. Allowing resentment and rumination to go unchecked not only increases personal stress but creates a context in which retaliation and gossip can fester. Especially for valued relationships, forgive- ness is a strong investment in giving a relationship an opportunity to grow stronger after offenses because it arrests the escalation of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Similarly, humility involves the regulation of egotism or the demands one places on relationships. Humble people both generate margin and then share that surplus within valued relationships. The regular practice of becoming a person who seeks to contribute more than one consumes (i.e., a “big ego” sucks up all the air in the room, takes too much credit, feels entitled to more than others, etc.) is a discipline that can lead to a steady strengthening and stabilization of one’s network of social bonds, which helps reinforce the development of character and has been linked to a variety of stress-related benefits. Prior interventions to promote these two virtues have relied on time-limited programs, but it may make sense to think of ways to pair these interventions with participants’ existing spiritual formative practices in order to encourage longer-term habits designed to reinforce virtues pertaining to curbing retaliation or hoarding of scarce resources. Forgiveness The research on enhancing forgiveness through spiritually formative prac- tice has developed in recent years.16–19 For example, Vasiliauskas and McMinn20 conducted an intervention study that explored the potential