Mainstream Statements that Include Spirituality

People who are engaged or interested in spirituality often think that mainstream thinking is hostile to spirituality. But do some research and you will be surprised by the number of authoritative bodies that publicly assert the value of spirituality. They may not be clear on how to put spirituality into action, but they have public statements about spirituality and good practice.

For the students on the Diploma in Practical Spirituality & Wellness  we have a reassuring handout. It is evidence that we do not have to persuade the mainstream that spirituality is beneficial and important. Below is the text of the handout. I hope you find the statements interesting and inspiring. And if you know others, please add them in Comments at the end of this page


Royal College of Psychiatrists ‘Spirituality and Mental Health’ 2014

‘Spirituality emphasises the healing of the person, not just the disease. It views life as a journey, where good and bad experiences can help you to learn, develop and mature.’


World Health Organisation  May 1984

The Thirty-Seventh World Health Assembly adopted resolution WHA37.13, which named the “spiritual dimension” as an integral part of WHO Member States’ strategies for health.


United Nations – The Earth Summit Conference 2002

‘Health ultimately depends on the ability to manage successfully the interaction between the physical, spiritual, biological and economic/social environment.’ Agenda 21, 6.2


The Nursing and Midwifery Council

‘The Nursing and Midwifery Council expects newly qualified graduate nurses to be able to: In partnership with the person, their carers and their families, makes a holistic, person centred and systematic assessment of physical, emotional, psychological, social, cultural and spiritual needs, including risk, and together, develops a comprehensive personalised plan of nursing care.’ (2011)


Scottish Executive Health Department ‘Spiritual Care and Chaplaincy’ 2009

‘Chief Executives are asked to ensure that this guidance is brought to the attention of all appropriate staff and, in particular, to ensure that: They have appointed a senior lead manager for spiritual care.’ ‘Spiritual care is usually given in a one-to-one relationship, is completely person-centred and makes no assumptions about personal conviction or life orientation …. Spiritual care is not necessarily religious. Religious care, at its best, should always be spiritual.’


General Medical Council ‘Personal Beliefs and Medical Practice’ 2013, p.1

‘A doctor must adequately assess the patient’s conditions, taking account of their history (including the symptoms and psychological, spiritual, social and cultural factors), their views and values.’


Education Reform Act of 1988

The opening sentence ‘The curriculum for a maintained school (must be) a balanced and broadly based curriculum which — promotes the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils at the school and of society.’


Education (Schools) Act 1992

‘The Chief Inspector for England shall have the general duty of keeping the Secretary of State informed about … the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development of pupils at those schools.’


Ofsted School Inspection Handbook, Jan 2015

The word ‘spiritual’ appears 20 times – Para 128: ‘Before making the final judgement on the overall effectiveness, inspectors must also evaluate: the effectiveness and impact of the provision for pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development . . .’


British Association of Social Workers ‘Code of Ethics for Social Workers’ 2012

Upholding and promoting human dignity and well-being ‘Social workers should respect, uphold and defend each person’s physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual integrity and well-being.’


If you know other authoritative and useful statements, please post them in the Comments below. Thanks.

Glastonbury Abbey Meditation & Prayer Walk

Glastonbury Abbey Meditation and Prayer Walk


Glastonbury Abbey is a place of Christian hospitality. In that spirit, we welcome people of all faiths and of no faith. And we invite you to enjoy our Prayer and Meditation Moments.

For hundreds of years this beautiful abbey was a place of worship, of learning and of sanctuary. As you enter its grounds, you may want to contemplate that your life is a spiritual journey.

Wherever you approach one of the areas indicated on the map, slow down and pause. Take the opportunity to breathe calmly and find peace within yourself. Then, if it feels right, follow the brief instructions.

You can do as many or as few of these Prayer and Meditation Moments as you choose. There is no particular sequence to them so you can do them in any order that works for you. We have however mapped two walks – a short one and a long one – which you might want to explore.


Many people came to Glastonbury Abbey for healing.  Sit quietly in this chapel. As best you can, breathe calmly and allow your body to sink and be at ease. Quietly say this prayer:

I am open to receive the gift of healing.
May all people and creatures be blessed with good health.



This Glastonbury Thorn tree flowers twice a year in Winter and in Spring, like a Middle Eastern thorn.  Legend suggests that it is a cutting from an ancient line of trees that dates back to the visits of Joseph of Arimathea, the uncle of Jesus. Quietly contemplate:

How wonderful that the cells of this tree carry its history and its future.
May I always see the connections and wonder of all life.


This chapel is dedicated to the worship and celebration of Mary the mother of Christ. The divine female can be found in many spiritual traditions. Quietly say this prayer:

Mother of the world, help me to love and care for all beings.



There are legends that Joseph, the uncle of Jesus, came to this very spot bringing the chalice from the Last Supper. Walk slowly and mindfully towards the altar. Quietly say this prayer:

I am grateful that I am safe and have a home.
May all people have a safe home.



Legend states that King Arthur and Queen Guinevere are buried here. Their court was home to the Round Table of chivalrous and brave knights. Quietly say this prayer:

In a world of injustice may I have the strength, courage and wisdom to support and champion the weak and vulnerable.


Here in the cloister the monks walked slowly, praying and contemplating life. See how slowly you can walk around the cloister and at the same time calm your breathing.

May I be slow and calm. May I be wiser and more loving. Help me understand life’s difficulties and guide me into clarity.


In this kitchen food was prepared daily for the Abbot’s visitors. Quietly say this prayer:

The food I eat comes from nature, plants, animals, farmers, transporters, traders and cooks. I give thanks to all of them.
May everyone be fed and well.



A monastic Herb garden would have supplied medicines, aromas and flavours. Quietly say this prayer:

I give thanks for the beautiful diversity and healing power of nature; and I give thanks too for the gardeners and their care.


Every year this beautiful orchard gives an abundant harvest of apples. Quietly say this prayer:

Thank you mother nature for your beauty and your abundance. May I always remember and care for you.



Water is one of the four ancient elements. Earth. Water. Air. Fire. This beautiful pond is cradled by earth. It is filled with water.Airand wind play on it. Light from the fireof the sun reflects from its surface. Quietly say this ancient prayer:

Earth my body. Water my blood. Air my breath. And Fire my spirit.
I am one with All That Is. 


‘Ask the animals,’ said St Francis, ‘and they will teach you the beauty of this earth.’ At this pond we find fish and fowl. Pause. Calm your breath and be at ease.  Notice the fish, the birds, and the insects. Be aware too of the sky and the hills around you. Feel the air against your skin. Quietly say this prayer:

I give thanks for the blessings and gifts of all animals. May all creatures be treated with care and respect.



There is a beautiful tradition of moving your body in tune with a prayer.

Slowly raise your arms above your head and stretch upwards:

The universe is filled with mystery and love.

Slowly bring your hands down and place them over your heart:

I too am filled with mystery and love.

Lower your hands so that your palms face the earth – or kneel down and touch the earth:

I bless the Earth and all living beings.

Repeat the action as many times as you like.



In this area we celebrate untamed nature – God’s garden.  Be quiet. Imagine our whole planet and humanity living in complete harmony with the natural world. Quietly say this prayer:

From the tiniest insect and wild flower, out to the greatest ocean and mountain, may I celebrate the beauty of all creation.


Choose any tree that you like. In many spiritual traditions, trees are a symbol of strength and wisdom. Pause and imagine that you are a tree. Imagine and sense that you have roots growing deep into the ground. Feel the strength of your trunk. Feel the flexibility and movement of your branches.Quietly say this prayer:

In a world of endless change and noise, may I be like this tree – strong, flexible and wise.


You can view and download a PDF of this leaflet on the Glastonbury Abbey website:

Holistic Leadership

Holistic Leadership

Holistic leadership can make the world a better place. It can happen in all areas of your life — family, friends, workplace and the wider community of your neighbourhood, nation and planet.

‘Holistic’ means that everything in life is in some way connected and interdependent; and that your actions and behaviour ripple out to touch everyone and everything. So as a holistic leader you are aware of everyone and everything involved in your project. Also your leadership is fuelled by your highest values, so that your actions always benefit the whole community of life.

Whether it is family, work or globe you obviously want to improve the situation. But sometimes simply wanting things to be better is more like a complaint than a vision. I want my family to be more harmonious. I want work to be more enjoyable and productive. I want the world to be safer. I want animals and nature to be protected. These are understandable desires, but they are not leadership visions. Desires on their own achieve nothing.

Leadership needs a clear vision of the outcome and strategies for achieving it. And appropriate action.



The beauty of Nelson Mandela’s leadership — the first black President of South Africa — lay in his inspirational vision filled with goodwill and hope. He is a wonderful model for us.

Having been a militant revolutionary, he became an icon of peace and harmony. During his twenty-seven years imprisonment on Robben Island he went through a process of personal and political transformation and saw what was truly necessary. People needed healing, hope and inspiration.

He went beyond an African liberation movement to a radical vision of the rainbow nation — a nation in which all races lived together in harmony. What a stunning transformation.

Nurture your dreams and develop a clear vision of the outcome you truly want for your family, work or community.

 Of course when he was finally released from prison and became President of South Africa, he met political realities. The rainbow nation vision was not enough, but now needed negotiation, tactics and strategy. It needed carefully nurtured communications and relationships with everyone, especially those who had once been enemies.

This long process of manifesting the rainbow has had successes and failures. This is normal. It is in the face of failure that we see the true leaders, because they stay resolutely true to their vision despite challenges.

You may want to heal relationships in your family, run a profitable business or be an effective activist. But you won’t get anywhere if you lose motivation and crumple at your first setback or when you first meet opposition. I know so many people, for example, who say they want to heal their relationships, but become outraged drama-queens at the first offence.

Good leaders know that they have to wrestle with life and with people, and they do it with goodwill, love and respect. Holistic leaders also have an understanding of the unseen dynamics in relationships and communications, especially why and how people resist change. Sticks and carrots, clarity and compassion are carefully used.

Persevere with hope and goodwill when you experience failure.

What is your attitude to the people who may oppose your vision and leadership? You must welcome your opponents. That was the brilliant grace of Nelson Mandela. His vision included those who had been his worst enemies. If they had been excluded they would have carried on being dangerous antagonists. He welcomed them with careful tactics and communications. He once wore the green and yellow jersey of the all-white South African rugger team. A shrewd and careful move.

Holistic leadership is emotionally literate and mindful. You know how to recognise and guide your own feelings and thoughts; and you are considerate and empathic to others. This is more important in fulfilling a project than technical or scholarly knowledge.

This psychological wisdom also applies to how you do your planning. There is a wealth of solid research showing that people think best when at ease. Aroused, anxious or urgent we flood our brains with unhelpful electro-chemistry and it skews our thinking. So good leadership means that we take time to think carefully about our projects — what needs adapting, who needs time, crucial next steps. Out of prison and throughout his presidency Mandela liked to sit in his garden with a glass of wine pondering strategy. You do not need twenty-seven years forced contemplation, but you do need time out and space to plan, even if it is in a long soak in the bath or walk in landscape or a park.

It is during these periods of relaxed planning that you can literally feel the fulfilment of your vision. It is not just an idea in your head but a felt experience of success. This is what is meant by Be the change you want to see. Why should anyone else shift if you don’t do it first and lead the way?

Your actual style of leadership will need to be authentic to the kind of character you are. Humorous or dry, introvert or extrovert, sporty or armchair, servant-leader or front-of-the-pack, facilitator or emperor — your leadership, actions and communications will be filled with patience and persistence, care and consideration, and a deep connection with the whole community of life.

And whether you are successful or not, your efforts and your integrity are always valuable. So always remain hopeful and remember the inspiring words of Margaret Mead, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.’

The purpose of freedom is to create it for others.
Nelson Mandela

Why I Meditate – A List of Reasons

Why I Meditate – A List of Reasons

There was a mixed reaction from the audience when I said that I meditated for two hours every day.

A few shook their heads in concerned bewilderment. Why was he wasting his time?

But several people in the audience were also meditators and understood.

The situation was an academic conference at Kent University on transformative education. I was prefacing my presentation with some autobiographical information.

An interesting challenge came from one professor. He was concerned that meditation might reinforce an established sense of self and do nothing to develop anything new. He was thinking particularly of fellow academics who were not open to developing their thinking and just used meditation for self-soothing. I welcomed his disquiet.


So why do I meditate?

Yes – I enjoy it very much.

But more than that, it is the most productive and creative period of my day.

In Autobiography of a Yogi Yogananda suggests that  in terms of service and self-development one good meditation is worth a year’s living. I agree! But how can that be?

So let me list some of the things that happen in my meditation.



First I just sit, am patient and wait. Wait until I go into the zone. By the zone I mean that my body, emotions and thoughts are at ease – and that I am mentally very conscious, alert and watchful.

At ease and alert.

At the same time I feel connected with . . . what shall I call it? I feel connected with life, with the flow, with all that is . . .

I can come into the zone even if I am in physical pain or emotional distress. (This is when many people give up and walk away.) I am in both states at the same time. In the zone. In my humanity.



Just being in the zone is profoundly healing. It soothes my biology, my nervous system, brain, endocrine system, heart rate variability, breath and gut. This is a powerful foundation for good physical health.

I also allow myself to absorb the benevolent vitality that permeates the cosmos. I circulate and absorb the healing energy deep into my bones, spine, brain and tissue.



All the time in meditation I am coming home to witnessing and watching. Guiding myself to be compassionate, empathic, accepting and kind. Completely trusting the whole process even when the sensations and feelings that arise in me are tortured. Breathing into and through whatever arises. Accepting, integrating, healing. This is so good for my psychological health.


Connected and calm I am my own best friend, counsellor, guide and therapist. As difficult feelings, thoughts and sensations arise within me I give them care and attention. I converse and create relationship with them. This is an essential part of my healing and development.



Inside every meditation I carefully review my life. I look at how I conduct my relationships, the quality of my emotions, my livelihood, my ecological awareness, my engagement as a citizen, my prejudices, my neuroses, my talents, my future. It is in meditation that I see myself with clarity and can guide my development and behaviour. At the same time I sense how my consciousness needs to expand and I experiment with altered states.



My meditation time is also part of my work. It is the best possible space to look at and be mindful of business. Mortgage, projects, colleagues, finance, relationships, next steps . . .  Everything benefits from meditative awareness. Here I can prepare and train myself. What better place to contemplate the actual activities of my life? My wise self can shine light on everything.



This is part of the education that happens in my meditation. I can contemplate any concept or idea and allow my awareness to be open to learning. Insights come from what Patanjali called the raincloud of knowable things. I might for example choose to focus on the meaning of Jesus’ incarnation. I can contemplate any symbol or myth, ideology or philosophy, idea or theory. Revisiting a concept day by day, perhaps for years, I learn.



Another educational aspect of meditation for me is to connect with the vibration and energy of a metaphysical ‘thing’. What is Aquarius? What is God? What is Mary? What are the higher planes? What is Christ? What is the heart chakra? What is a landscape spirit or angel of healing? And so on. In the calm I connect with the ‘thing’ and allow impressions to land. I learn from feeling and sensing the quality.



Every meditation also includes periods of service. Mainly I practice Tonglen (Tibetan Buddhist) or turning the other cheek (Christian.) I tune into suffering and negativity, and breathe it into my own body and aura. I hold it, absorb it, cleanse it and then breathe out a blessing.  I also scan my neighbourhood for people and animals who have died, are lost and may need help moving across into the ‘clear light’. And of course I send love and loving waves of positive energy to my family, colleagues, students, folk in distress, world leaders, etc.



And for me most important of all, I practice being empty and yielding to the sheer beauty, mystery and benevolence of all that is.


Of course how I practice meditation is not the same as everyone. For example I rarely use mantra, prayer or visualisation, which I know can be central features for others. But the more I teach and enable meditation – especially how to teach and guide it – the more I assert with confidence that, regardless of our beliefs, style or background, we all enter the zone and connection.


And all of that is what I would like to have said to the academics at the conference who wondered why I meditate and if I was just wasting my time. Mm. Wasting time. That’s a good seed thought for meditation: What is time?


May 2020
Most of my ideas about meditation are now available in my Meditation Masterclass.

Book Cover Meditation Masterclass by William Bloom





This list was put together after a consultation process involving over 200 people.

Anam Cara – Spiritual Wisdom from the Celtic World, John O’Donohue, Bantam, 1999

Anatomy of Spirit, Caroline Myss, Bantam, 1997

Animal Speak, Ted Andrews, Lllewellyn, 1994

Art of Happiness, Dalai Lama, Hodder & Stoughton, 1999

Artists Way, The, Julia Cameron, Pan, 1995

Autobiography of a Yogi , Paramahansa Yoganada, Indypublish, 2004

Being Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rider, 1992

Care of the Soul, Thomas Moore, Piatkus, 1992

Chalice & The Blade, The, Riane Eisler, Harper San Francisco, 1996

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston, Piatkus, 1998

Continuum Concept, The, Jean Liedloff, Arkana, 1989

Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsch, Hodder Mobius, 1999

Course in Miracles, Foundation for Inner Peace, 1996

Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa, Shambhala Publications, 1996

Field, The, Lynne McTaggart, Harper Collins, 2003

Flight into Freedom, Eileen Caddy, Element, 1996

Focusing: How to Open Up Your Deeper Feelings and Intuition, Eugene T Gendlin, Rider, 2003

Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, James Lovelock, Oxford Paperback, 1996

Hands of Light: A Guide to Healing through the Human Energy Field , Barbara A. Brennan, Bantam, 1998

Healing with Wholefoods, Paul Pitchford, North Atlantic Books, 1996

How to Meditate, Lawrence Leshan, Little Brown, 1996

Initiation, Human and Solar, Alice Bailey, Lucis Press, 1972

Iron John – A Book About Men, Robert Bly, Rider, 1996

Living Magically, Gill Edwards, Piatkus, 1999

Many Lives, Many Masters, Brian Weiss, Piatkus, 1994

Messages from Water, Masaru Emoto, Hado, 2003

New Natural Death Handbook, Nicholas Albery (ed), Rider, 1996

No Boundary: Eastern and Western Approaches to Personal Growth, Ken Wilber, Shambhala, 2000

On Death and Dying, Elizabeth Kubler Ross,Prentice Hall

Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell, Bantam Doubleday Dell, 1996

Power of Now, The, Eckhart Tolle, New World, 2004

Psychic Protection: Creating Positive Energies for People and Places, William Bloom, Piatkus, 1996

Quantum Healing, Deepak Chopra,Bantam,1989

Return to Love, Marianne Williamson, HarperCollins, 1996

Relating – An Astrological Guide to Living with Others, Liz Greene, HarperCollins, 1995

Road Less Travelled, The, M Scott Peck, Arrow, 1990

Seat of the Soul, The, Gary Zukav, Rider,1991

Seven Experiments That Could Change the World, Rupert Sheldrake, Inner Traditions, 2002

Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey, Free Press, 1996

Small is Beautiful, E.F. Schumacher, Vintage, 1993

Soul’s Code, The, James Hillman, Bantam,1997

Spiritual Intelligence, Danah Zohar & Ian Marshall, Bloomsbury, 2001

Tao of Physics, Fritjof Capra, Flamingo, 1992

Taoist Ways To Transform Stress into Vitality, Mantak Chia, Healing Tao Books, 1996

Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche, Rider, 2002

Varieties of Religious Experience, William James, Penguin,1996

Vibrational Medicine for the 21st Century, Richard Gerber. Piatkus, 2001

Way of the Shaman , Michael Harner, Harper San Francisco, 1992

Who Dies? : An Investigation of Conscious Living and Conscious Dying, Stephen Levine, Gateway,1996

You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay, Hay House, 2002

New Research on Spiritual Healing

New Research on Spiritual Healing


There is often an audible gasp of shock in my groups when I share that there is overwhelming evidence for the health benefits of spirituality, but there is virtually no evidence or theory for the benefits of spiritual and energy healing.


Over the last decades there have been thousands of academic papers researching the connections between spirituality/religion and health. Dr Harold Koenig of Duke University for example aggregated 3,300 of these papers and the findings indicated a clear set of benefits. These covered physical and mental health, general wellbeing and the wider community. See his paper Religion, Spirituality, and Health: The Research and Clinical Implications

As well as the statistical evidence for the benefits there is also now clear theory explaining how they are achieved.  Spirituality and religion deliver meaning, community, life style and specific practices  all of which in general (not always) soothe anxiety, relax tissue and have beneficial effects on the neuro-endocrinal system, heart rate variability and gut flora. A great result for spirituality and religion! All without the intervention of God, vital energy, healing, spirits or any other metaphysical factors.


But when it comes to spiritual healing and a theory that explains healing energy/prana/chi – the research is not there.

This is bizarre, isn’t it? Because to anyone with the slightest inclination towards empathy, poetic imagination or kinaesthetic sensitivity, it is only too obvious that we live in a world of energy and energies. We feel them. We sense them. We know that they influence us.

We know that we radiate them and influence others.

And of course there are substantial healthcare traditions, such as Ayurveda  and  Chinese medicine, in which healing energy is a core element. Spiritual healing is obvious.

There is not however a solid body of research for its benefits. Nor is there a solid body of theory that explains what it is and how it works. From one perspective this does not matter because complementary and integrative healing stratgies, which include spiritual healing, are widely available. People use them.

But evidence and theory are important if we want to integrate energy healing into mainstream healthcare, which I do.


It is helpful therefore to know where good research is happening. We can refer to it when appropriate. We can also support it.  So here are three links to very recent articles and resources that I have found useful. I hope you do too. They have all been published in recent weeks:

Institute of Noetic Sciences
Mapping the Field of Subtle Energy Fields
This is a very helpful overview of the different approaches and healing methods. Read here

Global Advances in Health and Medicine Special edition
Biofield Science and Healing: Toward a Transdisciplinary Approach
Their November issue online contains the best current overview of the research and theory in the field. They like to use the word ‘Biofield’. It is a good word. Maybe we should all use it. In it you will find thirteen articles with titles such as Biofield Science and Healing: Terminology and Concepts and Clinical Studies of Biofield Therapies: Summary, Methodological Challenges and Recommendations. Yes it is all a bit academic, but that is precisely what we need to support our case.

The Confederation of Healing Organisations
Two Meta-Analyses of Noncontact Healing Studies
This is research funded by the CHO and provides some useful evidence. The CHO is also funding some more research, which will need our help. I will inform you about it when it is online. Chris A. Roe, PhD, Charmaine Sonnex, BSc, MSc, and Elizabeth C. Roxburgh, BSc, PhD You can download the full paper here


There you go. A bit heady perhaps. But needed. And bless them for doing the hard work. Gratitude.