In the past, spiritual practices have been set aside by doctors when they are talking to patients about their health concerns. However, increasing amounts of research are beginning to reveal just how valuable prayer and spiritual practices, including meditation, really are. In fact, over 65% of medical schools now offer courses on spirituality and health.
While spirituality may not erase your wrinkles or make you skinny overnight, regular participation in spiritual practices is clearly a worthwhile pursuit and one which many believe can make a tremendous improvement in both physical as well as mental health. A solid mind-body connection can help protect your heart and brain while boosting your immune system and reducing anxiety.
In a study presented to the Sigma Theta Tau International Nursing Research Congress, researchers found that participating in regular spiritual practice increases patient responsiveness to health interventions.
The Power of Prayer and Meditation
Researchers worked with patients in rural North Carolina with a history of high blood pressure. When examining multiple factors in the lives of patients, researchers found that common factors such as socioeconomic status, gender, race and education did not make a difference in health status.
However, people who regularly participated in prayer or meditation activities and expressed a sense of spirituality had lower blood pressure levels and displayed fewer health issues overall.
According to another study that looked at the relationship between religious practices, personality factors and health, regardless of your religion, spirituality in general improves mental health. Most notable was a decrease in neuroticism and an increase in extraversion.
Researchers at Florida State University found that regular prayer increases our compassion for other people which in turn makes us feel better.
At the University of Toronto, researchers found that just thinking about God or other spiritual beliefs can keep you calm, which may explain why spiritual people tend to not only live longer but also live happier lives than non-spiritual people.
Traditional Chinese medicine holds that health involves more than the physical body alone. Mind-body medicine is becoming more accepted within Western medicine and attention is now being paid to the importance of spiritual and emotional health and their impact on physical health and health problems.
-The Alternative Daily