Becoming Spiritual

Kimmel & Associates e-Letter

An Electronic Mental Health Newsletter from Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. & Associates

Volume 6, Number 9

Fall brings many changes and is the precursor to winter. Our vacations are over and now its time to deal with the real problems. We live in very challenging times in our country. Divisiveness, blame, anger, intolerance, misunderstanding, and fear seem to rule the day. Our national leaders seem to be out of touch and not truly interested in us but in getting themselves re-elected. Our economy and political civility seem to have gone from bad to worse, yet we must cope with it. We remind you to limit your news/talking heads intake so that you don’t get overly frustrated and angry. But this is also a time for change as there is opportunity in every crisis. Find some activity in which you can get involved to make this world just a little better. Don’t stand idly by and not voice your opinion whatever that may be. It takes only one person to create change. Rather than worry and be scared, take some action to help others as well as our country.

In this September E-Letter, we present information about Spirituality, our Ask the Doc question relates to blogging to thousands, and our email of the month is about How To Stay Young. We hope you find the enclosed information helpful. As always, we appreciate your questions and feedback.

Practice News

Low cost counseling: We are pleased to announce that Denise Champagne has attained her Master’s degree in counseling and will be obtaining her hours towards licensure under the supervision of Dr. Kimmel. Because of this, we are able to offer low cost counseling. If you or someone you know is in need of counseling but just cannot afford it, please call the office and ask for Denise. All treatment provided by Denise will be reviewed and discussed with Dr. Kimmel.

Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. We are also pleased to announce we have been certified by the Department of Children and Families, State of Florida, to offer the Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. Sometimes referred to as the Divorce Class, this 4 hour class is state mandated for divorcing parents of involved children. This course is intended to teach parents about the effects divorce has on children, to lessen the impact of difficult transitions, and to improve the ways they communicate with each other and their children. Our course is provided live and in small groups. Please contact our office at 954 755-2885 for further information.

Hoarding: We invite you to visit Denise Champagne’s blog about her experiences working with JZ, a hoarder. Her thoughts and pictures of JZ’s home are posted on the following site: We think you will find it very interesting and you can post your thoughts and comments directly to Denise.

Handouts from previous e-Letters can be found on our website. We invite you to read and download them if desired.

Becoming Spiritual!

Our E-Letter this month focuses on spirituality which is seen as a belief in a power or force that is greater than ourselves. Being spiritual involves cultivating our capacity to experience awe, reverence and gratitude. It is the ability to see the sacred in the ordinary, to feel the passion of life, and to bring about compassion in oneself and others. It refers to the deepest values and meanings by which people live. Common spiritual practices include meditation, prayer, mindfulness, and contemplation and are used by people to develop their inner life. Spirituality is also seen as a path to a higher state of awareness, perfection of one’s own being, attaining wisdom, and connecting with God. Religion differs from spirituality in that it is a specific set of organized beliefs and practices, usually shared by a group. Spirituality is more individual, and has to do with a sense of peace, purpose, connection to others, and beliefs about the meaning of life.

Many people have become interested in the role of spirituality in their health. This may be due to dissatisfaction with the impersonal nature of our medical system and with the recognition that physicians don’t have all the answers. Many people turn to prayer when faced with a medical or life crisis hoping that a greater power can solve the crisis. Many people also believe that spirituality draws upon the healing power of our “life force” that is, our body’s natural inclination to survive. We can either support or obstruct the life force by our beliefs, emotions and behavior. Being spiritual improves coping skills, enhances social support, increases optimism and hope, and reduces feelings of anxiety and depression. Spirituality can also positively influence the immune, cardiovascular, hormonal, and nervous systems. Numerous research studies have shown that spirituality decrease the rates of stroke, cancer, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, drug abuse, suicide, and general mortality. Belief in a higher power is the cornerstone of every 12 Step recovery program.

To become or increase your spirituality:

  • Have Faith: A person’s most deeply held beliefs strongly influence their health
  • Have Hope: Without hope, many people become depressed and prone to illness.
  • Practice Forgiveness: Release the hostility and resentment from past hurts
  • Develop Love and Social Support: Close family and friends lend help and emotional support which provides protection against many diseases
  • Pray: Put yourself in the presence of a higher power

We offer the following information on Becoming Spiritual:

“Religion is for people who are scared to go to hell.
Spirituality is for people who have already been there.”— Bonnie Raitt

What to Know!

  • Spirituality intends to develop a person’s inner life and to feel connected to a larger reality, to nature or the cosmos, or to the divine realm
  • Traditionally, being spiritual means achieving a higher state of awareness, having greater wisdom, perfecting oneself, and communing with one’s understanding of God
  • Spirituality differs from religion: religion implies a particular organized faith and belief in a God whereas spirituality is more individual and has to do with a feeling of peace, purpose, connection, and a belief about the meaning of life
  • Humanistic qualities found in spirituality include love, compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, patience, harmony, contentment, and empathy for others
  • Spirituality involves the capacity to experience awe, reverence and gratitude and to give oneself to that which is greater than ourselves
  • Many people believe that spirituality is the way to find meaning, hope, comfort, and inner peace in life
  • Spiritual practices including contemplation, meditation, prayer, and rituals are believed to have the power to release the “life force”, the natural inclination to survive
  • Examples of spiritual expression include the dances of Hasidic Jews, the rain dances of Native Americans, the whirling dervishes of Islam, the blissful worship in charismatic churches, the meditations of Zen Buddhism, and the quiet meetings of Quakers
  • Research has shown that practicing spirituality improves coping skills and social support, increases feelings of optimism and hope, and promotes healthier behaviors
  • It also reduces feelings of depression and anxiety and increases relaxation
  • Dr. Herbert Benson who described the relaxation response has demonstrated that daily meditation can reduce stress and promote relaxation and overall well-being
  • Spirituality promotes healing and improves the immune, cardiovascular, hormonal, and nervous systems
  • Research also indicates that people who have strong spiritual beliefs are less anxious and depressed, heal faster from surgery, and have lower blood pressure
  • People who practice spirituality have less alcohol/drug abuse, lower suicide rates, have fewer divorces, have greater marital satisfaction, and have less criminal behavior
  • People who regularly practice spirituality are also great sources of strength and comfort to others
  • Many people turn to spirituality because they believe that medicine doesn’t have all the answers and when they or loved ones are facing serious illness

What to Do!

  • To increase your spirituality, practice:
    • Faith: deeply held beliefs can increase resistance to stress
    • Hope: without hope people become depressed and prone to illness
    • Forgiveness: releases hostility and resentment from past hurts
    • Love and Social Support: close family and friends provide emotional support
    • Prayer: conversing with a higher power is a way of healing
  • Seek professional help if you want but are unable to increase your sense of spirituality

We Can Help!

Call us at (954) 755-2885 or email us at

Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates
5571 N. University Drive, Suite 101
Coral Springs, Florida 33067

As always, we would like to welcome new readers to our e-Letter. We hope that you find it informational and enjoyable. We invite you to share this e-Letter with others. If you have received this from a fellow reader, please send us your email address to include you on our list.

Ask the Doc

Rabbi P. writes: I have a daily message that I send out from my blog to thousands of readers around the world. Recently, I received feedback from a reader in Canada who used inappropriate but not offensive words. He was joking and I answered him back using the same words. This offended another reader and I was reprimanded for using the same language. I initially became quite angry but decided to deal with this situation in the next day’s message. My topic was “All of Us are Human”. I believe I handled it well but wanted your opinion.

Dr. Joel Kimmel replies: It sounds to me that you handled it appropriately by using a teaching moment. You explained that all of us have human faults and are vulnerable to acting in ways others might not like. However, 2 major points come to mind. The first is to remember your audience when you write a blog or post messages in social media. You often do not know who you are writing to, how they may interpret it, and how they may react. Some people might get offended and angry and misunderstand your writings. If you are in a position of respect or authority, remember that others may see you only that way. Be careful about being personal, familiar, or friendly when you are writing to a vast audience.

The second point is that certain people need to see you in a position of respect only. They want the Rabbi to be their spiritual leader and guide and to be above human shortcomings. They do not want to know you any other way; they want to seek your advice and guidance mainly because you are looked up to. To find out that you are fallible and just human may destroy their belief in you and what you say. So be mindful of others’ needs and careful what you say publicly.

If any of you would like to discuss this further, you are welcome to call me at (954) 755-2885.

Email of the Month

We would like to thank Linda K. for sending us the following email:

How To Stay Young

  1. Disregard all nonessential numbers. These include age, weight and height.
  2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. If you really need a grouch, there are probably family members that fill that need.
  3. Keep learning. Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Just never let the brain idle.
  4. Enjoy the simple things. Remember – when you were young, that’s all you could afford. When you were in college, that’s all that you could afford. When you are on retirement, that is all that you can afford!
  5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath. Laugh so much that you can be tracked anywhere by your distinctive laughter.
  6. The tears happen. Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life is ourselves.
  7. Surround yourself with what you love, whether it is family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Your home is your refuge.
  8. Cherish your health. If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help.
  9. Don’t take guilt trips. Go to the mall, the next county, a foreign country, but forget the guilt trips!
  10. At every opportunity, tell the people you love that you love them.

Remember: Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

Please continue to send us your comments, questions, and favorite emails for our e-Letter.

Till October…

The information provided in this electronic newsletter is not a substitute for professional treatment. It is the opinions of the writers and is provided solely for educational purposes. For mental health care, seek a qualified professional.

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Copyright © 2014 by Joel I. Kimmel, Ph.D., P.A. and Associates.