The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Dr. Kerrie Kauer visits Chatham to discuss spiritual wellness

Dr. Kerrie Kauer, a professor currently teaching in the Gender Studies department at the University of Pittsburgh, visited Chatham University’s campus on Monday, November 3 to speak on the topic of spiritual wellness.

Kauer, whose research and education are largely centered on women’s leadership, social justice, LGBTQ identities, and gender equality, spoke to the group gathered in the Woodland 103 classroom on the many benefits of working towards spiritual wellness.

Dr. Kauer began her talk with a deep breathing exercise, allowing those in attendance a chance to pause for a few quiet moments and center themselves.

Along with being a professor, Kauer is also a yoga instructor and had no problem guiding all of those in the room to measure their breaths and find themselves a bit calmer than when they initially walked in the room.

According to Dr. Kauer’s lecture, there is a great difference between the various aspects of religion and spiritual wellness. Although many would at first group them similarly, religion was defined as focusing primarily on the external world and the belief of a higher being. It operates around an agreed upon set of prayers and is more of a public search that is external to the individual participant.

Spiritual wellness, however, takes on a much more individualized approach. it begins as an internal process and continues on that way perpetually. Spiritual wellness is all about self-transcendence, an ability to understand one’s personal relationship with what lies beyond the knowable world. It is a personal and private search that takes place within the individual and can vary for whoever is reaching for spiritual wellness.

Achieving spiritual wellness, according to Dr. Kauer, is, “engaging in the process of being able to transcend oneself to question the meaning of life.”

Along with that ability to question the meaning of life, Dr. Kauer discussed how working towards spiritual wellness could also have several physical, mental, and emotional benefits. For mental and emotional health, spiritual wellness has been shown to provide a more positive worldview, personal empowerment, and greater psychological integration in post-trauma situations.

Dr. Kauer referenced the poet Rumi at this point of her discussion as a way to guide those in attendance to find their own way of achieving spiritual wellness and its benefits. She repeated his quote to the audience: “Don’t be satisfied with the stories of how things have gone for others. Unfold your own myth.”

Aside from the expected positive results, which manifest in emotional and mental health, Dr. Kauer spoke of how spirituality has been shown to create physical benefits as well. Positive results such as an increased functioning of the immune system, increased endocrine functioning, and improved cardiovascular health become apparent when an individual works towards spiritual health and well-being.

As the final point of her presentation, Dr. Kerrie Kauer showed how there can be a connection found between an increased spirituality and social change. This time she referenced Bhikku Bodhi, an American Buddhist monk.

She referred to his quote, “I try to respond to the voice of conscience telling me that true compassion must be expressed in socially transformative action.” She then ended her presentation by discussing with the audience how a greater sense of spiritual well-being can ultimately lead to a greater desire to create social change.

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