Spiritual Intelligence and Health
Is There a Relationship Between Spirituality and Our Wellbeing?
You might be a skeptic when it comes to spirituality and health. But scientific research from medical experts is clear. There is. Statistically speaking, spirituality improves health.
Harold G. Koenig is a medical professor at Duke University in North Carolina. He is the co-founder of Duke’s Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health.
In 2012, Professor Koenig published a comprehensive review of research on religion and spirituality and both mental health and physical health. His findings are clear and conclusive:
A large volume of research shows that people who are more religious/spiritual have better mental health and adapt more quickly to health problems compared to those who are less religious/spiritual.
Professor Koenig reports that the studies show a significant impact on mortality rates—whether people lived or died during the course of the study. He reported that survival rates among people who frequently attend religious services were particularly high—37% higher than people who weren’t actively spiritual or religious. He noted that the positive effect was similar statistically to the effect of cholesterol-lowering drugs or exercise-based rehabilitation after a heart attack.
A Harvard Study
In July 2022, Harvard Medical School published a study entitled, Spirituality in Serious Illness and Health. Here is what it concluded:
This study represents the most rigorous and comprehensive systematic analysis of the modern-day literature regarding health and spirituality to date.
Our findings indicate that attention to spirituality in serious illness and in health should be a vital part of future whole person-centered care.
After reviewing hundreds of studies, they found that participation in a spiritual community is associated with longer lives, less depression and suicide, and less substance abuse.
In the population as a whole, spirituality positively affects our physical and psychological health.
Thank you, enlightened medical researchers and university professors! I’m truly grateful for their significant findings and for the gifts given to us by modern medicine. But still… Did we need modern science to tell us that a rich spiritual life is important to our well-being?
If you are like me, your own life experience tells the tale.
Here’s what I know. There is an interactive system going on in me and in all people. We could get overly philosophical or academic about just what that system is and how it works. But based on firsthand self-observation, it comes downs to this. What happens physically for me is related to how I think—my beliefs, attitudes, and the flow of my thoughts. What I think is related to how I feel—my emotions. And my emotions are related to what is happening in my physical body.
Three Elements of Human Experience
From a lifetime of witnessing what goes on, I can report that these three elements of human experience are constantly talking to each other and affecting each other.
I am not a good patient. If I get a sore throat, my mood tends to plummet. (I wish I could report differently, but I can’t.)
When I think anxious thoughts, my emotions freeze.
And if I get too stressed out mentally, my body can get sick.
The Three-Ring Circus
It’s a three-ring circus going on inside me. I believe that something very similar is happening for you.
There came a time in my life when I saw that I needed to gain a high-level education in emotional intelligence to understand my own psychology. As the ringleader, I needed to get my eyes on the three-ring circus going on within me and learn how it works.
I’ve come to believe that emotional intelligence is important for anyone. It pays for us to become students of our psychology, including our feelings. Because there is an emotional element to practically everything in life, is there not? And if our emotions, freeze up, flare up, or flounder in any facet of our life, we are blocked in that area.
The consequences to your physical body can be devastating. I won’t cite the research here. But stress can single-handedly destroy the vitality a healthy diet might give you. Loneliness has an impact on your physical body equal to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Never mind unchecked anger or depression.
Emotional intelligence alone won’t solve the issues that arise in our personal psychology. But without a penetrating understanding of what we are feeling and why—without getting eyes on what is happening emotionally—it becomes a struggle to raise the level of our physical, mental, and emotional health. It is hard to be the ringleader of a circus you can’t see.
So What Does Spiritual Intelligence Have to Do With It?
Spiritual intelligence is, first of all, an intelligent approach to spirituality. It is a personal commitment to find the optimal spiritual connection so you can open yourself to the powerful energies that flow into you and activate you.
Spiritual intelligence is existential intelligence — wisdom regarding the most vital factors of our human existence. The development of spiritual intelligence helps us understand who we are, how we are made, and why we are here. And the first thing we have to address is the cultural belief that it is impossible to know these things. It isn’t.
Spiritual intelligence is noticing what is happening for oneself spiritually. And then being thoughtful about what you could do to harmonize with the inspiring, activating spiritual urges within you. It is opening the powerful influences of Universal Love. It is asking for a higher wisdom to fill your thoughts and guide your ways. It is surrendering to an intelligence that is higher than what you have yet known.
The practice of spiritual intelligence does not deny the gifts that a spiritual community or religious practice might bring to you. In fact, spiritual intelligence might lead you to those things. But it might also guide you to walk in the forest, talk to a dear friend, or travel to a faraway place.
We know from science that spirituality can affect mental and emotional health. It can have a positive effect on the psychological factors in a person’s life. But what spiritual practices have that effect? And what spiritual practices are optimal for you? Knowing that takes spiritual intelligence.
Attunement With the Positive Creative Powers Within the Human Capacity
Beyond the traditional structure of religion and spirituality, there is the possibility of personal Attunement with the life-giving powers within the body.
There is the potential for Attunement with the presence of Universal Love available to the emotional body, a flood of Love that is abundantly available to anyone who surrenders to it.
And there is a central guidance system for a human being available to anyone who opens to a higher wisdom.
This is what spiritual intelligence is all about. It is intelligence related to how we open, as human beings, to the spiritual reality within us. And it is how we release those energies in and through our human capacity. It is not only believing in the source of our life and health. It is attuning to that source so that it can have an impact in our life.
This is what has such a profound effect on our health and well-being.
Yes, Love is good for the heart.
The inspiration of a higher wisdom and intelligence is good for the mind.
And of course, reconnection with the spirit of life is good for the body.
Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence Together
To reach mastery over this human experience, it all has to come together for us. We really are a three-ring circus, and all the parts of our human capacity are talking to each other and relating dynamically. So spiritual intelligence alone does not bring health or well-being. If we are shut down, melting down, or blowing up emotionally, all the spirituality in the world won’t help. At least, not unless it can bring some emotional intelligence.
Likewise, we can become emotionally astute—with a lot of education on human psychology and a lifetime of trying to understand the psychological issues that can dominate people. But without an awareness of how to attune to the tremendous creative powers at the core of our being, emotional intelligence alone will not renew our health or our lives.
Spirituality and Health
Emotional intelligence is what brings our spirituality to our mind, heart, and physical body. And when it does, this is what brings health.
So think about your own current life experience. Think of your state of well-being and your health, physically, mentally, and emotionally. How is it all going?
If you are like most people, there are parts of your life experience that are strong and vital. And there are elements that are begging for regeneration and healing. It might be a physical ailment. Or something weighing heavily on your mind and heart. It might be an unrelenting stress or something that feels like a dark cloud hanging over you.
If so, what are the elements of emotional intelligence that would help bring understanding to those elements? What is the spiritual intelligence that would connect you with the vitalizing energy you need? I am not promising you any specific result. But I am promising that whatever it is, it will go better if you connect your own inborn spirituality.
Whatever Is Happening
Whatever is happening, I encourage you to find the knowledge you need to live the life you are destined to live. I am on a soap box now. But I know how significant these things are for me, for you, and for our world. When emotional and spiritual intelligence come together, all the rest of the human experience is lifted up and empowered. We can come to a place of peace, and we can thrive as human beings and as humankind.
What I Have to Offer
My name is David Karchere, author of the book, Becoming a Sun: Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence for a Happy, Fulfilling Life. The books assist the reader to explore and understand how we are all made and how we work. I know it has changed people’s lives.
If you would like to find out more about me, click here.
I know there are many places to go to find education and insight into the issues we encounter as human beings. If you want to learn more about emotional and spiritual intelligence, here is what I can offer:
• Take the Spiritual Intelligence Quiz offered on this website here.
• Subscribe to my Becoming a Sun blog here.
• Find out more about the energy medicine practice of Attunement here.
• Buy my book, Becoming a Sun, on Amazon here.