6 Ways to Boost Spiritual Fitness for Better Memory Protection

Better Memory Protection

Memory is the fabric of our soul. It makes us who we are and allows us to keep our loved ones close, even when they are far away. Memory houses our joys, our hurts, and all of life’s lessons. It reminds us who is trustworthy and who isn’t, who helped us and whom we need to help. Memory helps us recall important elements of our lives and helps keep us centered and growing. And it’s also what provides us with a sense of purpose that gives our life meaning.

When our memory is diminished or damaged, it can rob us of our ability to make good decisions (because we forget important life lessons) and causes us to become disconnected from those we love. Memory problems limit our success at work, steals our independence and ultimately makes us vulnerable to the wolves in society who are out to take advantage of us.

Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia, robs us of those memories, rendering our lives unrecognizable. Over 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s and that number is expected to roughly triple by 2050.

If you want to save your memory and prevent Alzheimer’s disease, you may be engaging in well-documented strategies that protect your physical fitness (such as eating a healthy diet and exercising to improve blood flow) and mental fitness (such as engaging in new learning and mental exercise).

There’s a powerful Alzheimer’s prevention strategy you may be overlooking—spiritual fitness.

There’s a powerful Alzheimer’s prevention strategy you may be overlooking—spiritual fitness. Click To Tweet

What is Spiritual Fitness?

Spiritual fitness is a new concept in medicine that centers on how psycho-spiritual wellness can reduce the risk of memory loss, mild cognitive impairment, and Alzheimer’s disease. According to BMJ Open, scientific evidence suggests that spirituality and religious involvement can preserve cognitive function as we age.

To understand the concept of spiritual fitness, we must first look at the meaning of spirituality. Contrary to what you may think, the notion of spirituality is not necessarily tied to religion. In fact, a growing number of Americans view themselves as spiritual but not religious, according to Pew Research. Belief in God remains strong, with 87% of Americans responding “yes” to a 2017 Gallup Poll that asked, “Do you believe in God?” And 77% of Americans say they pray at least monthly (55% of them say they pray daily). However, U.S. church membership has dropped to 50%.

In essence, spirituality has come to mean an individual’s search for a higher power or for something sacred or divine. This search may come in many forms. Regardless of religious affiliation, spiritual fitness encompasses many areas, such as stress reduction, a sense of overall contentment, and having a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself. Learning to accept and forgive yourself and others, having empathy, and being compassionate are core components of psycho-spiritual well-being.

On the other side, lower spiritual well-being is associated with mild cognitive impairment and early dementia, according to research in Frontiers in Psychology.

6 Ways to Pump Up Your Spiritual Fitness

1. Harness the power of meditation.

A 2015 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease shows that a type of meditation known as Kirtan Kriya improves-psycho-spiritual well-being and spiritual fitness, which it says are important for the preservation of cognitive function and the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease. A 2020 study by some of the same researchers suggests that spiritual and religious practices, including Kirtan Kriya meditation, are critical components that enhance cognitive well-being, and in some cases, may reverse cognitive decline. In this study, the researchers conclude, “We hope that this article will inspire scientists, clinicians, and patients to embrace this new concept of spiritual fitness and make it part of every multidomain program for the prevention of cognitive disability.”

2. Make prayer a daily practice.

A wealth of research shows that prayer and meditation have been found to calm stress; improve memory, focus, and mood,; and enhance function in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. The same way you schedule time to work out, make prayer a priority in your appointment book.

3. Put your faith into action.

Regardless of your belief system, make it a central part of your everyday life. Make the effort to flex your spiritual muscle by putting your faith into action. For example, if the tenets of your faith lie in forgiveness, find it in your heart to release the grudges you hold.

4. Look for a spiritual trainer.

Just like you might hire a personal trainer to help you get the most out of your workouts, a mentor can be beneficial to your spiritual life. A mentor could be a pastor, a rabbi, a Zen master, or any other person who can guide you in your spiritual quest. The mentor-mentee relationship isn’t about being told what to do or how to think, rather it’s a way to explore and stretch your spirituality.

5. Serve others.

Being of service to others is a key aspect of a healthy spiritual life. Research suggests that whenever you feel down, anxious, or angry it is best to get outside of yourself to change your state of mind.  Connect meaningful activities and pleasure, such as volunteering for activities you love. For example, if you love table tennis (the world’s best brain sport!), you might enjoy volunteering to keep score at tournaments.

6. Find your purpose.

To strengthen your spiritual fitness, you need to know your purpose in life. Here are 6 simple steps to find your purpose.

  1. Look inward. What do you love to do? (Examples include writing, cooking, design, creating, speaking, teaching, etc. What do you feel qualified to teach others?)
  2. Look outward. Who do you do it for? How does your work connect you to others?
  3. Look back. Are there hurts from your past that you can turn into help for others? (Turn pain into purpose.)
  4. Look beyond yourself. What do others want or need from you?
  5. Look for transformation. How do they change as a result of what you do?
  6. Look to the end. When you die, how do you want to be remembered?

At Amen Clinics, our Memory Rescue BRIGHT MINDS Program takes a whole-person approach to memory loss and dementia. In addition to brain SPECT imaging to identify any underlying brain health issues, we also look at the biological, psychological, social, and spiritual factors in your life that may be contributing to memory issues.

We are available for in-clinic brain scanning and appointments, as well as mental telehealth, remote clinical evaluations, and video therapy. Find out more by speaking to a specialist today at 888-288-9834 or visit our contact page here.

6 Comments

  1. Spiritual fitness can help a person to be strong both mentally and physically. Yoga, meditation, exercises, mental exercises etc. can be helpful. Keeping yourself happy by getting engaged in activities that keeps your mind calm and active is a wonderful thing. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Drug rehabilitation center Louisville — January 21, 2021 @ 3:28 AM

  2. Spiritual Fitness is a new concept in Alzheimer’s Prevention medicine that I have developed. It will appear in an upcoming article in The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. Interesting to see it here. Thanks for mentioning Kirtan Kriya the easy 12 minute memory meditation that I have been researching for 2 decades, with one of the first studies being done with Dr Amen.
    Dharma Singh Khalsa, M.D. President/Medical Director Alzheimer’s Research and Prevention Foundation. Prevention Editor Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease

    Comment by dharma Singh Khalsa, MD — January 25, 2021 @ 4:54 AM

  3. Thank you for publishing this! 15 years ago I changed my career from management of clinical outpatient laboratories to counseling. I did so when I found a program at Loyola (sadly no longer available) that incorporated spirituality into the counseling process. I couldn’t understand how anyone could heal completely without this element. Sometimes it is the one factor that pulls my clients into a place where the emotional and physical issues that come with their distress can be effective.

    Comment by Ellen Marie Dumer — January 25, 2021 @ 11:53 AM

  4. Spiritual practices may directly or indirectly help most of us feel “safer” and by so doing influence heart rate variability, limit inflammation, and a host of other physiological processes essential for healthy brains. I expect the means are less important than the effects on a given individual. The old adage that one man’s food may be another’s poison holds true, so while I am an advocate for spiritual practices, I have concerns about blanket recommendations, particularly ones that focus primarily on the means.

    Comment by James Rotchford, M.D. — January 25, 2021 @ 4:57 PM

  5. Have Toronto, Ontario facilities?

    Comment by Michael Jacobs — January 30, 2021 @ 5:55 PM

  6. Hello Michael, thank you for reaching out. At this time, we have 9 locations in the U.S.: https://www.amenclinics.com/locations/.

    Comment by Amen Clinics — February 3, 2021 @ 8:32 AM

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