As a heath care provider it is important to assess our patient’s faith. To a lot of people faith and spirituality play a large part in their overall health and healing. Health care providers cannot be expected to know about every kind of faith in the world but assessing and talking with patients regarding their personal beliefs will help with understanding more about patients and their view on their health. To better understand three of the world’s very popular religions this writer will discuss the spiritual perspective on healing, the critical components of healing, and what is important to people of a particular faith when cared for by health care providers. The three religions that will be discussed are Sikhism, Shintoism, and Buddhism. This writer will also compare these faiths to the Christian philosophy of faith and healing.
Health Care Provider and Faith Diversity
The first of three religions that will be discussed is Sikhism. There are twenty million Sikhs in the world and is the world’s fifth largest religion (Queensland Health, 2011). The religion was founded in the sixteenth century in the Punjab region of India (Queensland Health, 2011). The Sikhs spiritual views on healing include praying to God for help recovering from an illness. The people of the Sikh faith are encouraged to accept death and illness as a part of life and the will of God. Sikhs have close family relations and it may be common for patients to have many visitors while in the hospital. The critical components of healing for the Sikhs are prayer, which can be performed anywhere and is usually done three times a day. Another component of healing for people that practice Sikhism is mediation to help relieve anxiety and depression, as well as, listening to sacred music and hymns (Queensland Health, 2011). Sikhism combines the use of modern medicine with traditional medicine and remedies. When caring for a person of the Sikh faith it is important to know about certain religious practices and attire. Sikhs wear articles of faith known as the five kakkars.
These include: Kesh, this is uncut hair; Kenga, this is a wooden comb used to comb the hair at least twice per day; Kara, this is a steel bangle that symbolizes their commitment to God; Kirpin, this is a small sword that symbolizes compassion, protection, honor, and dignity; the last article of faith is Kachara, this is an undergarment worn as a symbol of fidelity (Queensland Health, 2011). When caring for a patient of the Sikh faith, health care providers must have permission from the patient or family before removing any articles of faith, this include the turban or scarf that they wear, as well as removal of hair from the body (Queensland Health, 2011). If any of the articles are removed they must be treated with the respect. If at all possible, accommodations should be made to allow the patients of the Sikh faith to wear the articles of faith or a proper substitution, such as a surgical bouffant. The second of the three religions this writer will discuss is Shintoism. Shintoism is the ancient religion of Japan. It is still practiced today by approximately five million people. Often Shinto is practiced in combination with Buddhism or another religion. The Shinto faith does not have a particular founder, scripture, God, or gods (BBC Religions, 2013). The belief of Shinto connects people with spirits known as the kami. It is believed that if treated properly, the kami will bring good fortune such as health and business success. The kami are worshipped in the form of shrines.
As said before a patient may practice Shinto in conjunction with another religion such as Buddhism and even Christianity. The spiritual perception of healing in regards to Shintoism is that health is associated with purity. The critical components of healing may include ritual cleansing, prayer or other spiritual practices from combining religions with Shintoism. An important thing for healthcare workers to be aware of when caring for a patient of the Shinto faith is that death and illness are considered impure and it may be difficult to have a conversation regarding end of life care (Queensland Health, 2011). The four affirmations of Shinto can help health care providers understand the Shinto faith. These affirmations include: tradition and the family, family is considered the foundation for maintaining traditions; love of nature, Shinto holds nature sacred; ritual purity, this includes ritual bathing to spiritually and physically cleanse before entering a shrine to worship the kami; matsuri, which is the worshipping and honoring of the kami and ancestral spirits (BBC Religions, 2013). The last religion that this writer will discuss is Buddhism. Buddhism is a twenty five hundred year old religion with approximately three hundred seventy six million followers (BBC Religions, 2013). Countries in which Buddhism is most popular include China, Tibet, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, and Thailand (BBC Religions, 2013). Buddhists spiritual perception of healing focus on the mind. In Buddhism the mind is the creator of all suffering. The Buddhists believe that in order to heal present sickness, they have to engage in positive actions now. They also believe that prevention of sickness can be obtained by clearing the mind of negative karma (Hawter, 1995). The concept of healthy mind, healthy body is deeply rooted to Buddhism.
The components of healing for Buddhists include mediation that is combined with visualizing of holy images, blessed herbal remedies, and healing of the mind. Buddhist healing also includes not engaging in selfishness, which is called the “inner enemy.” (Hawter, 1995) According to Hawter (1995), selfishness is said to cause sickness by allowing negative actions to cause a negative mind, thus creating an unhealthy mind. When caring for a Buddhist patient, a health care provider should provide a quiet environment. Healthcare providers must also realize that western medicine and hospital environments may not be suitable for a Buddhist seeking to heal from an illness. Health care providers should also be aware that when natural death is given a high priority, and that medications that dull the consciousness of a dying patient (pain medication) may not be acceptable (Loma Linda University Health System, 2011). In relation to Christianity, the three religions discussed, have both similarities and differences to the Christian faith in regards to healing. All three religions, like Christianity, put a high value on prayer for both spiritual and physical healing.
The three religions also have a similarity in which, if good things are done in life or for other people, then good things will come, in Christianity this is called the “Golden Rule.” The Three religions discussed also have similarities to this writers personal beliefs. While this writer does not belong or associate with a particular religion, the writer is spiritual and believes in the power of prayer, the Golden Rule, and that medicine can only do so much to extend life, but when it is time to die, little can be done to stop it. In conclusion, this writer believes healthcare providers have a duty to their patients to provide them with holistic care, which includes empathetic spiritual care. Health care providers should not try and ever force their own spiritual and faith healing beliefs on their patients. Doing this may hinder the health care provider’s relationship with their patient and may lead to a lack of communication about the patient’s true holistic needs. This writer also believes that all people should have the right to practice their faith healing without judgment or ridicule. It is important for health care providers to try and understand their patient’s views on health, disease, dying, and death and develop a trusting and healing patient-provider relationship. References
BBC Religions. (2013). Buddhism. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/buddhism/ BBC Religions. (2013). Shinto. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/ Hawter, V. P. (1995). Healing: A tibetan buddhist perspective. Retrieved September 5, 2013, from http://www.buddhanet.net/tib_heal.htm Loma Linda University Health System. (2011). Health care and religious beliefs. Retrieved from http://lomalindahealth.org/media/medical-center/departments/employee-wholeness/healthcare-religious-beliefs.pdf Queensland Health. (2011). Community profiles for healthcare providers: Japanese australians. Retrieved from http://www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/health_workers/Japanese2011.pdf Queensland Health. (2011). Health care provider’s handbook on sikh patients. Retrieved from http://www.health.qld.gov.au/multicultural/support_tools/hbook-sikh.pdf