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    Lesson Seven – Belong – Participate in a Spiritual Community

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | July 11th, 2021

    Lesson Seven – Belong – Participate in a Spiritual Community

    When I was growing up, I used to go to church every Sunday and sometimes during the week. This all stopped when I went to college and then to Medical school. I became a CEO (Christmas and Easter only). I started residency and one Sunday, I got up and told myself -“If I can go to work every day, I should be able to go to Church once a week.” That was it; I started going regularly and have not looked back. It has made a positive impact in my life. I love the music and I love the fellowship.

    In Dan Buettner’s book, Blue Zones, Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest,  lesson seven is Belong – participate in a spiritual community. He cites the following studies:

    Journal of Health and Social Behavior – 3,617 people were followed for seven and half years. Those who attended religious services at least once a month reduced their risk of death by about a third. Those who attended religious services had a longer life expectancy, with an impact about as great as that of moderate physical activity.

    NIH – funded Adventist Health Study – 34,000 people were followed over a period of 12 years and found that those who went to church services frequently were 20 percent less likely to die at any age. People who paid attention to their spiritual side had lower rates of cardiovascular disease, depression, stress, and suicide and their immune systems seemed to work better.

    What Dan Buettner’s has learned from those who have lived long lives is that the simple act of worship is one of those subtly powerful habits that seems to improve your chances of having more good years. It does not matter if you are Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, or Muslim.

    In the book, he suggests the following strategies to strengthen our spiritual dimension as we develop our Blue Zone:

    Be more involved – join the choir, volunteer to teach the youth.

    Explore a new tradition – If you do not belong to a spiritual community or had a bad experience in the past, try something new. When I made the decision to go to church regularly, I went church hopping. I ended up going back to the church where I grew up.

    Just go – Schedule an hour a week for the next eight weeks to attend a religious service. Go with an open-mind and see what happens.

    I hope your journey to creating your blue zone is going well. After this lesson, we have two more to go. If you have missed the other lessons, please click the link below:

    1. Move Naturally – Be active without having to think about it
    2. Hara Hachi Bu – painlessly cut calories by 20%
    3. Plant Slant – Avoid meat or processed foods
    4. Grapes of Life – Drink red wine (in moderation)
    5. Purpose Now – Take time to see the big picture
    6. Downshift – Take time to relieve stress
    7. Belong – Participate in a spiritual community
    8. Loved Ones First –   Make family a priority
    9. Right Tribe – Be surrounded by those who share the Blue Zone values

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