We may find ourselves challenged in many practical ways right now, but I think this collective pause also challenges us in many ideological ways as well.
This particular time has made me think of what is in my radar. In the constraints of this pandemic, whether it be tent cities, empty shopping malls, home-schooling, overwhelmed hospitals, or economic inequality, I have found myself less tunnel-visioned in what I see in my slice of reality.
As many of us examine our lives, the concept of purpose comes up. That is a term that can have a broad and very overwhelming feel to it when we think about it in terms of our life. In terms of business, it can also seem loaded and pressure-filled as we are encouraged to explore our overarching ‘why’. Personally, that notion has never especially landed for me. I have found uncovering why we do what we do to be an ongoing process.
But, as many have lost some aspects of their livelihoods, we endure losses of various kinds, and we live with the daily uncertainty, somehow correlated to purpose, we may look to find meaning in our situations and in our lives.
And as I think about the meaning of things, I am also challenged to explore the concept and application of faith.
My early exposure to religion wasn’t especially rewarding. As things happened in my early life that left their mark, I have at times rejected the notion that everything happens for a reason. At this point, however, I find myself more willing to consider it. I like to believe that the universe is on my side or things happen for a reason, that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and in the possibility of karma—but none of that is internally generated, it is more intellectually manufactured.
We may be drawn to the notion of faith through a desire for belonging or to make sense of things, but considering how or where to explore it can be confusing in itself. So, true to my training, I approached this exploration with a bit of research.
And I came upon a word that I found interesting: acedia. Acedia is defined as a “spiritual or mental sloth.” Yet it is not related to laziness as we might assume, rather it comes from a Greek word which means “lack of care.” With so many things weighing on us right now and so much information to take in, many of us are struggling with, among other things, if we are doing enough or if we are doing the right things. With so much to worry about, it is difficult to find the energy to care about everything that is going on.
Acedia was once thought to be one of the deadly sins—and it is not hard to see how apathy can be dangerous. When faced with uncertainty and change, when that apathy is creeping in, that is when faith becomes key.
Of course, there are also health implications when it comes to faith. Studies have shown that having faith and hope are determining factors in those undergoing chemotherapy and in people with chronic pain. Being able to see that light at the end of the tunnel and imagine a better and healthier future are important elements in both mental health and physical recovery.
There are many ways to think about faith. Confidence means to have faith in oneself. This is a critical piece as well. In the broadest scope, we may consider faith as love. However, if that is too long and imaginative of a perceptual bus ride—to take that leap, we might say—it is possible to think of faith as the antidote to fear.
Yet perhaps the most practical use of faith right now is to counteract the frustration—the general unease that we may be feeling about the state of the world or the desire and messaging for ‘self improvement’ that accompanies a new year. Finding some sense of contentment in the push and pull of those internal and external forces may require us to summon some faith—even when it doesn’t come naturally.
When we rely just on the perception that we have through our auditory and visual systems, we have to acknowledge that we are limited when we are trying to explore something as abstract or esoteric as faith. Our brain is really not evolved enough to get it. When our perception is further clouded by our past experiences and present realities, faith may seem even harder to grasp.
In looking at how we interpret things and draw conclusions in our brains, we return to the fact that the brain is an action-perception system. In this instance, purpose can be viewed as the action, seen through our perception of faith. But whether we reduce faith to confidence or expand to consider a divine being and the meaning of life, trust is the common denominator.
And with so many unknowns, trust can be elusive as a cognitive pursuit at this time.
We all hope to find or see some signs that we are on the right track. A little validation would be nice now and then. Yet I believe that finding faith is more about that active pursuit than curiosity.
Not pursuit of knowledge, but the acknowledgement of things that we can’t fully perceive or conceptualize. Belief in something beyond what we can study or even understand. When we feel psychologically or physiologically stuck, faith is the tow truck that can pull us out. It reminds us that we have a purpose, even when it is unclear. And it allows us to not feel alone, even when we are physically separated.
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Dr. Tabrizi is a chiropractor, osteopath and a passionate member of both the local and scientific community, whose goal is to teach that the pursuit of optimal health and wellness is much more than being symptom-free. His practice is rooted in the philosophy of treating the person rather than just treating the illness or ailment. As a result of his interdisciplinary training, Dr. Tabrizi has developed a neuroscience-based therapeutic education approach to treating his patients, focusing on healing illness from a wider perspective, placing equal responsibility on patient as well as practitioner. Dr. Tabrizi aims to educate his patients and provide them with the tools and framework needed to integrate pain management and healthy living into the fabric of their everyday lives.