NAIDOC Week – Spirituality is linked to Aboriginal social and emotional wellbeing
By no means an expert on this subject, I discovered that many of my Aboriginal friends find it hard to comprehend events or elements of this world without also considering their spiritual import. It seems to me that the Western world has lost somewhat the recognition of the importance of spirituality to the minutiae of our lives – and this has been to our detriment.
Aborigines maintain health and wellbeing by finding their kurunpa, or deep spirit, which includes establishing their interconnectedness with the universe and by treating fiends and family with unconditional love. This interconnectedness with the divine is not unlike prayer or meditation.
No wonder that holistic health care which takes into account the spirituality and social and emotional wellbeing of the individual within the whole community, has the best results in Aboriginal communities. Healing for Aborigines stems not just from addressing a physical symptom, but from reclaiming their true identity.
At the time of the 2011 Census, Australians of many faiths made up a clear majority of 77.5% of the community. It would be interesting to learn the number who have experienced the curative aspects of prayer first-hand. In the USA a Pew Forum discovered that 36% of those surveyed “experienced or witnessed a divine healing of an illness or injury”.
A VicHealth report last year stated that “… it has been possible to conclude that individuals of faith who experience religious freedom have the potential to experience a range of positive health effects that may be associated with their religion/belief”.
Similar to many indigenous peoples’ spiritual practices, I find that I need to claim my inheritance as a spiritual being daily and hourly, with affirmations of the nearness, allness and power of the Divine keeping me centred (in my right place and ‘country’). My meditations are Christian-based and, similar to many other faith traditions, also depend on doing unto others as I’d have them do to me. I find these practices health-giving for both mind and body.
According to Dr Harold Koenig, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Theology, and Health, of the more than 2,000 studies conducted over the last 10 years in this area, the clear majority point to a positive relationship between the spiritually uplifted mind and body. Although the research is relatively new, the link between prayer and health can be traced all the way back to Bible times.
These discussion papers funded by the Cooperative Research Center for Aboriginal Health are offering new and enriching insights into human health regardless of race and cultural background, extending research that has already emerged in the alternative health community on the connectedness of spirit, mind and body.
The research seems to be pointing to the conclusion that spirituality, or kurunpa, is critical to everyone’s wellbeing. Aboriginal or not, it may be time to reconnect with your kurunpa to find a healthier you!