Spiritual Practices That Protect HEALTH

Spiritual Practices That Protect HEALTH

A third traditional approach toward HEALTH protection centers, in part, on reli- gion. The words spirituality and religion are frequently used synonymously, but they are not the same. Spirituality connotes the way we orient ourselves toward the Divine, the way we make meaning out of our lives, the recognition of the presence of Spirit (breath) within us, a cultivation of a lifestyle consistent with this presence, and a perspective to foster purpose, meaning, and direction to life. It may find expression through religion, or religion may be a tool for find- ing one’s spirit (Hopkins, E., Woods, L., Kelley, R., 1995, p. 11).

Religion is embedded in the life of many heritage-consistent traditional peo- ple in countless ways. For example, the religion’s calendar gives order to people’s lives by defining holidays in their season. A religion has sacred objects, spaces, and times; stipulates practices, such as dietary and wardrobe; teaches the rituals sur- rounding conception, pregnancy, birth, and the child’s early life; and instructs how to bring babies into the world, and how to care for and remember the dead. It may also, in many cases, instruct how to protect ourselves from the envy of others and/ or the evil eye (Leontis, A. 2009, p. 32). It strongly affects the way people choose to protect HEALTH, and it plays a strong role in the rituals associated with HEALTH protection. It dictates social, moral, and dietary practices that are designed to keep a person in balance. Many people believe that ILLNESS and evil are prevented by strict adherence to religious codes, morals, and practices. They view ILLNESS as a pun- ishment for breaking a religious code. For example, I once interviewed a woman who believed she had cancer because God was punishing her for stealing money when she was a child. An example of a protective religious figure is the Virgin of Guadalupe (Figure 5–15), the patron saint of Mexico, who is pictured on medals that people wear or in pictures or icons hung in the home. She is believed to pro- tect the person and home from evil and harm, and she serves as a figure of hope.

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