A+ A A-

How to Reawaken Your Spirit and Connect with Nature

photo

Spiritual Retreats Produce Changes in the Brain

Science is thankfully showing that spirituality in the new millennium is no longer a luxury; rather, it is a necessity for both our physical and mental health. In recent years, scientists have found that practices that enhance our spirituality (such as yoga and meditation) have a wealth of benefits, especially in the area of stress relief, but also in terms of soothing pain, improving concentration and memory, and increasing energy levels. Such is the stress relieving power of yoga, that it is currently used as a complementary therapy in cancer recovery, rehabilitation for substance abuse, and eating disorder recovery (to name just a few medical settings). One new study, meanwhile, focuses on the important brain changes that spiritual retreats can bestow.

Spiritual Retreats and Feel-Good Chemicals

Researchers from Thomas Jefferson University discovered that spending time in a spiritual retreat, produces important changes in the dopamine and serotonin systems in the brain. The latter play an important role in the reward and emotional systems of the brain. They work side by side and when levels of either are low, we can feel depressed or anxious.

Why Do We Sometimes Suffer from Depression?

Serotonin is commonly referred to as the ‘feel-good neurotransmitter’. When its levels are low, we can suffer from mood fluctuations, sugar cravings, insomnia, and a sometimes overwhelming feeling of sadness. In severe cases, suicidal thoughts and even aggressiveness can result.

When dopamine (‘the thinking neurotransmitter’) is lacking, we can feel ‘foggy in the brain’, take longer to react, feel unmotivated or have memory problems. Although depression can arise when either serotonin or dopamine levels are skewed, when both are affected, thinking and mood alike can be hampered.

How Can Spiritual Retreats Help?

Simply believing in a higher power has been found to increase general wellbeing and happiness, but when we pursue spiritual matters in the great outdoors, as we do when we go on our retreat, the benefits are magnified. In the above-mentioned study, participants went on a one-week spiritual getaway which comprised silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, and daily meetings with a spiritual director, who provided guidance and insights. After the retreat, participants not only managed to improve dopamine and serotonin levels, but also showed marked improvements in their stress levels, physical health, and fatigue. They also reported improved feelings of self-transcendence, which, in many ways, is the aim of all spiritual retreats.

Is there a Secret Ingredient that Leads to a Higher Feel-Good Factor?

One of the most fascinating aspects of the study is that, as one researcher noted, “In some ways, our study raises more questions than it answers. Our team is curious about which aspects of the retreat caused the changes in the neurotransmitter systems and if different retreats would produce different results.”

The researchers were unable to pinpoint exactly which elements of spiritual treats were most effective because each participant valued the different components of the retreat differently. Thus, some people found that meditation or prayer were most powerful; others felt that simply being silent, had dramatic effects on their psyche; still others felt that being in nature significantly reduced their stress levels. Indeed, each of these components have been found to instil calm, fight stress and anxiety, and lower symptoms of depression. One possible reason why spiritual retreats are so effective is their ability to bring all these stress-busting practises elements together, within a beautiful, vacation-like setting.

Although the benefits of spiritual retreats remain a mystery, they bring many good things to our lives, by instilling calm, lifting mood and boosting vitality. Guidance, meditation, silence, and a sense of awe at being in the midst of stunning natural landscapes, are just a few of the many benefits of time away ‘with a purpose’.

Sally Benson is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family and travelling as much as possible.

This article is written exclusively for CrystalWind.ca.  © 2017 crystalwind.ca. All rights reserved.

© 2017 crystalwind.ca. All rights reserved.

CrystalWind.ca is free to access and use.
"Would you consider a small gift of $11.11 ?" :)
ॐ Namasté - Blessings!
"Life is an echo, what you send out comes back."

© 2008-2018 crystalwind.ca. All rights reserved.

Free Reading Here!!

crystal-wind-oracle-mobile-app
 
Cut Through The Illusions!
Available On The
Apple  / Android / Amazon
NEW Expanded Version - 53 cards!
share knowledge1

Archive: Earth Shift Energy

Featured This Month

Page:

Libra Mythology

Libra Mythology

It's truly impossible to talk about Libra mythology without also referencing... Read more

Lepidolite

Lepidolite

The Mental Balancer Stone Lepidolite contains lithium and is helpful for st... Read more

Raven Medicine

Raven Medicine

If you see a Raven, magic is in the air and something special is about to ha... Read more

Mullein

Mullein

Helps you feel courageous and adventurous. Gender: Feminine Planet: Saturn Ele... Read more

Libra’s Featured Stone - Kyanite

Libra’s Featured Stone - Kyanite

Kyanite Birthstone: Libra Planet: Venus Element: Air Chakra: Throat Read more

Obsidian

Obsidian

The Protection Stone As a stone that emerges with dramatic force from the d... Read more

The Reed : October 28th - November 24th

The Reed : October 28th - November 24th

The Fire Festival Of Samhain Celtic Symbol : The White Hound Or The Stone ... Read more

Birth Totem - Raven or Crow

Birth Totem - Raven or Crow

Birth dates: September 22 - October 22 Birth Totem is: Raven/Crow Clan ... Read more

Sun in Libra

Sun in Libra

An Overview of Sun Sign Characteristics for Libra The ruler of Libra is Ven... Read more

Samhain Ritual

Samhain Ritual

Samhain or Halloween is all about celebrating the eternal part of life, the ... Read more

Samhain Lore

Samhain Lore

The symbolism of this Sabbat is that of The Third (and final) Harvest, it ma... Read more

Ametrine

Ametrine

The Stone for Clearing and Change Ametrine is one of the rarest and most va... Read more

Ducks Fly Moon

Ducks Fly Moon

Raven - Bloodstone Jasper - Mullein - Brown September 23 to October 23 The D... Read more

Libra

Libra

Sept 23 - Oct 22 Spirit: To operate judiciously Ego: Strategist, peace see... Read more

Samhain by The Hedgewitch

Samhain by The Hedgewitch

Blessed Samhain Samhain marks one of the two great doorways of the year, for ... Read more

Positive SSL
© 2008-2018 CrystalWind.ca. Site Creation by CreativeInceptions.com.

 

X

Right Click

No right click