Hope is complex. It can inspire us to move forward, to get up and act, to take the necessary steps to make our visions a reality. Hope, some say, can also distract from the reality of a bad situation or disempower us if we allow misplaced hopefulness to supplant necessary action.
What is your experience in feeling hopeful? Is the experience of hoping linked inextricably to an outcome for you or is it a valuable state of being in and of itself? Do you feel better when you are with hope or without it? Do you act more or less passionately and actively to create your future when you have hope?
Hope and optimism are linked. We thrive when we have hope that our futures can be joyful (healthy, love-filled, prosperous – fill in the blank). When we lose hope and become pessimistic about the possibilities available to us we begin to fail, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “If you lose hope, somehow you lose the vitality that keeps life moving, you lose that courage to be, that quality that helps you go on in spite of it all. And so today I still have a dream.” Individually and collectively we are being challenged to have the courage to continue dreaming and hoping in the face of uncertainty and fear.
Depression is a multifaceted condition with many potential causes, but hopelessness and depression are usually linked. I’m always interested to find scientific research that explores spiritual ways of addressing health issues. I wanted to pass this one along to you.
The aim of this pilot study conducted through the University of Michigan was to compare the effects of a nondenominational spiritual retreat on depression and other measures of well-being on patients who had recently suffered a heart attack. Three groups were studied. One participated in a four-day Medicine for the Earth (MFTE) retreat lead by Sandra Ingerman, M.A. The retreat included guided imagery, meditation, drumming, journal writing, and nature-based activities. The second group participated in a Lifestyle Change Program that included nutrition education, exercise, and stress management. And the third group was a control group receiving usual cardiac care. The pilot study concluded, “a nondenominational spiritual retreat, MFTE, can be used to increase hope while reducing depression in patients with ACS (Acute Coronary Syndrome).”
The details of the study can be accessed at Healing the Heart Study
I’ve completed Sandra’s teacher training to lead Medicine for the Earth groups and have enjoyed gathering people together to do this powerful work. If you are interested, in participating in a group, do let me know. You can purchase Sandra’s book Medicine for the Earth through Amazon via this link.
Wishing you a peaceful heart,