January is a time for New Year’s resolutions and lifestyle changes. As the new year begins, we generally aim to improve the physical health of our bodies and reduce stress. Our primary focus is on the body and mind, but what about the spirit? Michael Robinson, Spiritual Care Provider at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre (TBRHSC), agrees spiritual wellness is often overlooked.
Robinson has seen the power that spiritual care can have on patients in a clinical setting. He has over 25 years of exploring Aboriginal spirituality, and has traveled around Ontario learning about and preserving local customs. “It is rewarding to help others and see them benefit from finding their spiritual expression,” he says. Through his work, Robinson addresses the needs of patients, contacts external priests/pastors, performs weekly smudging ceremonies, and visits up to 12 patients each day. Even though there can be hesitation, Robinson explains most people have experienced some form of spirituality, whether they know it or not. “There are many different forms of spiritual expression that some may not immediately recognize,” says Robinson.
At first thought, the word “spiritual” is often associated with religion, but spirituality is unique to each person and may be about contributing to society, being at peace with nature, or developing compassion. Robinson explains that, “Spiritual expression does not have to revolve around religion or faith. Many people find their own spiritual expression artistically through painting, or physically through biking or hiking.” He describes that a moment taken to reflect on personal thoughts can be considered spiritual. “By understanding spiritual wellness, we are able to stay ahead of other stressors in our lives, like job stress. We are also more aware of all the dimensions of wellness, such as social, emotional and occupational wellness.”
Supporting people to acknowledge their spiritual expression is something that Robinson intends to do during his presentation at TBRHSC’s January Healthy Get-Together, a free, monthly healthy living presentation, organized by Prevention and Screening Services at TBRHSC. Speakers and topics relate to maintaining healthy lifestyles, and ultimately chronic disease prevention. Robinson’s one-hour presentation will focus on understanding the many dimensions of spiritual wellness and how they can help to achieve a balanced lifestyle.
As we live in a society where religion is under much scrutiny, Robinson hopes his presentation will clear any preconception people may have regarding spiritual care and wellness. To learn more about how spiritual wellness can contribute to a balanced lifestyle, join Robinson on Wednesday, January 27 from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in ICP Main Meeting Room (Room #2178) at TBRHSC. The session is open to everyone and parking passes are available. Call (807) 684-7237 to reserve your place.