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By Nancy Bacon

Flourishing with spiritual practices

From the Pastor's Desk


Are you flourishing – enjoying life – happy and healthy? Spiritual practices have been shown to promote health and well-being. I think most of us could use a bit more flourishing.

One of the first people to study the effects of spirituality was a Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. George Vaillant. He wanted to determine what components of spirituality, if any, contribute to well-being and human happiness. In 1938, he began studying undergraduates and followed them for more than 75 years, measuring various psychological, anthropological, and physical factors. He discovered that eight spiritual qualities, not necessarily beliefs, contribute to health and well-being. He referred to these spiritual qualities as "spiritual emotions". They include: forgiveness, gratitude, equanimity (inner peace, mental calmness), awe, wonder, joy, compassion and love. His results have been published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, 2001: 158:839–847 and in his books "Adaptation to Life", 1977, and "Aging Well", 2002.

We might ask, how are we collectively doing with forgiveness, gratitude, equanimity (inner peace, mental calmness), awe, wonder, joy, compassion and love? Do those qualities seem to describe you or the people you know?

Lately, I've been hearing laments about the absence of those qualities - more concern about the lack of civility and decency in our culture. It's easy to make that case if we listen to news stories that present negative events. Positive events seldom make the news. I appreciate that The Loop newspaper was created with the intention of getting the word out about positive events!

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For the past several weeks, I've been leading a wellness group and we have had the opportunity to learn more about spirituality, spiritual emotions, and improve our well-being. There is healing power in our attitudes and spiritual practices. Throughout the world, traditional religions have connected spirituality and healing. Many people attempt to practice gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and love, but we seldom hear about it. Imagine if we each practiced these things on a regular basis, as our religion. And, imagine if we more often noticed and told others when we witness these exemplary qualities. That would be great news and probably contribute to our happiness and well-being.

If you seek a group to share these experiences with, come and celebrate with us our 90th Anniversary as a church on April 15, or Earth Day Sunday on April 22.

May You Flourish,

Pastor Nancy

About Tehachapi Community Church, UCC:

No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life's journey, you're welcome here!

The Tehachapi Community Church, UCC is an open and welcoming community of faith that believes that each person, created in the image of God, holds a piece of the truth. Therefore we respect each person's unique spiritual journey. We invite you to experience the difference that religious freedom in a caring community can make in that journey.

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We are located at 100 East E St., in Tehachapi. Worship and Sunday School are at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays. Please join us for coffee and fellowship at our Friendship Hall after worship (approximately 11:30 a.m.).

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All are welcome.


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