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20 Aug

Challenging Faith: Turning Towards Your Higher Power Through Uncertain Times

Faith, spirituality, and religion play a significant role in how people progress through life and how they deal with hardship or uncertainty. I have worked with many clients from different spiritual and religious backgrounds, and faith looks different for each individual. Some people are clear on where their faith lies, while other people may be searching for faith in a higher power. During the past few months, everyone was presented with unforeseeable challenges, and I advised my clients that consistently checking-in with their higher power can be a great resource for alleviating anxiety or distress.

Before going any further, it is good to explore the differences between spirituality and religion to establish what one’s faith can entail. Spirituality can simply be defined as the process of looking within; we all are spirits living a human experience. Ever heard someone say that they feel “empty inside?” That could be a sign that their spiritual needs are not being met. This emptiness can often be resolved by having or establishing a direction or purpose in life. On the other hand, feeling fully content and whole with one’s life can be a good indicator that most of a person’s spiritual needs are being met.

Now let us explore religion. I run groups in Spiritual Psychology in a rehab in West Philadelphia. The purpose of these groups is to help people explore their faith and use their relationship with their higher power as a strength. When I run my groups on spiritual psychology, the term religion can be up a range of different emotions. Some people can speak of religion in a nostalgic manner while others can feel some distress by religion. This powerful and simple word can mean different things to different people, but I wish to present a different meaning to this word. Religion is the actual physical steps one takes in order to fulfill their spiritual needs. Yes, religion does not just solely consider the three Abrahamic religions (Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), but many different forms of religion that you feel can meet your spiritual needs.

So how can we fulfill our spiritual needs in times of chaos and change? As I stated before, these past few months have been challenging for everyone, leaving many families and individuals feeling grief, anxiety, and a possible lack of purpose. One simple and easy way to connect with your higher power is to say a prayer. I am not talking about a formal “Our Father” or another previously written prayer, but simply getting in a comfortable setting (church, beach, living room, etc.) and having a conversation with your higher power. Speak to them from your spirit and connect with what fears or anxieties you may have as a part of this cathartic process of expressing fear in a healthy manner.

Another simple way to connect with your higher power can be through meditation. The practice of meditation comes in many different forms and is a rapidly growing practice in the United States. For first-time meditators, I recommend getting into a comfortable position or setting that is quiet, and practicing long, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. The goal is to focus on breathing in order to calm the mind and body, but also to learn to listen. Hindu practitioners in India believe that prayer is the act of talking to your higher power and meditation is the act of listening to your higher power. Both are different yet tied together in the act of connecting with your higher power in order to relieve stress and anxiety through these uncertain times.

Council for Relationships offers a Congregational and Family Systems Academy Certificate Program. This training is for clergy interested in learning Family Systems Theory with direct application to their leadership and functioning in ministry. This is a 2-year part time, Advanced Training Program and will directly bring theory, theology, and practice into sharper alignment. Learn more at: https://councilforrelationships.org/professional-education/degree-certificate-programs/clergy-education/

Nicole Maldonado, LMFT, is a staff therapist at our University City office; she currently sees clients via online therapy. To set-up an appointment, you can reach her at nmaldonado@councilforrelationships.org or 215-382-6680 ext. 4210.

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