Illness and spirituality

Your question:
I was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I have this vague sense that I want to embrace some kind of spirituality in my life. But I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. How do I get started in exploring my spiritual side.

Gary Answers:
It is not at all uncommon to feel a sense of yearning for a greater spiritual connection when diagnosed with a medical condition. A medical diagnosis has a way of giving us a nudge toward making a connection with something greater than what we experience in the here and now. Clients tell me that the things they had previously taken for granted in life, like listening to favorite music, taking a walk, spending time with family or friends, can suddenly seem profound in a way that they cannot put into words. They often describe this new way of experiencing as being spiritual.
The word “spiritual” is a very broad term. It may include developing closer connections with loved ones and it may include involvement in a church, synagogue, or other religious organization, or some combination of both. It might involve reading books with spiritual content, or simply sitting in silent meditation. My clients often want to look for ways to develop spiritual connections when they are diagnosed with a medical condition, or they look for ways to reconnect with a spiritual life that they had in the past but have grown away from. Not only are local religious institutions available to you, but also consider ecumenical spiritual centers and meditation or classes in spiritually-based practices like yoga. Even your local Y will most likely offer a meditation or yoga class.
I would just encourage you to explore this new dimension in your life. Illness can make you see things in new ways, in a broader, more universal sense. It can make trivial things apparent and bring into high relief what really matters to you, in your life, right now.