I hope you are enjoying your summer! I recently read a book that completely rocked my world, so I wanted to share it and talk more about the subject. The book is called The Awakened Brain, by Lisa Miller. Lisa Miller is a PhD psychologist that pioneered the research studying how spirituality can actually help improve symptoms of depression. She is also the founder of the Spirituality Mind Body Institute at Columbia University.
This book resonated so strongly with me for a few reasons. Many people that struggle with depression have treatment challenges such as being medication resistant, others are unable to afford accessible support and care, while still others may look for alternative types of treatment. Spirituality is something that can be accessible to anyone who chooses to seek it out.
I highly recommend reading or listening to the book, but some of my favorite findings include:
- Her 2012 study found, through MRI imaging, that the area of the brain weakened by depression also strengthens with a consistent spiritual practice, therefore proving a biological basis for spirituality.
- A spiritual practice that helps decrease anxiety and depression then leads to “more positive psychological traits such as grit, resilience, optimism, and tenacity.”
- Many examples of Dr. Miller’s own clients’ stories about how spirituality greatly improved their lives and led to many examples of “synchronicity.” (Synchronicity here refers to things that seem like coincidences, yet may be more as a result of people’s positivity.) While these examples are anecdotal, her research is backed by evidence-based studies that support these anecdotal stories. It also helps the book feel relatable and keeps you wanting to read more and more.
- Miller’s study also found that people that have spirituality in their lives are 40-80% less likely to develop a dependence on substances. This is quite remarkable. She also notes how 12 step programs have a large spiritual component, which she believes is one of the reasons they can be successful for people in addiction recovery.
Personal spirituality can be found in whatever way it resonates within you.. nature, meditation, connection, music, and religion, are just a few examples. Please reach out if you would like to talk through ways of finding what speaks to you and your spirit. I would love to hear from you.