Does the power of positive thinking have the ability to heal the human body? What about religious belief, or the commitment to spiritual wholeness? In all cases, an increasing amount of scientific research point in the direction of “yes.”
Scientists from all over the world are discovering what many ancient cultures have known since the beginning of time: enabling balance between mind, body and soul promotes comprehensive wellness and improved quality of life.
Meditate for Better Health
While spirituality is often associated with religious practice, it can also be derived from secular sources, such as meditation. A recent study conducted collaboratively between Milwaukee’s Medical College of Wisconsin and Fairfield and Iowa’s Institute for Natural Medicine and Prevention of the Maharishi University of Management suggests that people with coronary artery disease reap significant therapeutic value from transcendental meditation.
It’s not just relaxing, meditation is good for your physical health!
Participants in the study experienced a 50% decrease in risk of heart attack and stroke compared to the placebo group. Presented at the American Heart Association meeting, this study joins a wealth of other results connecting spirituality to overall well-being. In fact, the establishment of a meditative practice has been linked to everything from decreased blood pressure to lessening chemotherapy-related nausea to reducing chronic pain.
Religion, too, has been scientifically linked to better physical health, with studies demonstrating fewer emergency room visits as well as faster recovery from heart surgery by patients who profess strong religious beliefs.
Other research results–evaluating everything from group therapy’s influence on breast cancer survival rates to the effects of biofeedback on migraine headaches in children–demonstrate the power of mind over matter when it comes to health. Unfortunately, the relationship can also work in reverse: for example, chronic illness is a major cause of depression.
So Now What?
Now that the connection has been established, the next step is applying this information in a meaningful way. Proper nutrition and healthy eating are cure-alls for a number of physical ailments, and can lead to improved mental energy as well as a heightened sense of fulfillment. If you are religious, attending services or becoming involved with your church or synagogue can have a beneficial bearing on your well-being. Non-secular programs which integrate the mind and the body include meditation, yoga, and group therapy.
Hippocrates himself was a believer in the connection between mind, body and soul. Considered the father of modern medicine, he promoted balance as an important component of ideal health.
Today’s physicians are increasingly accepting this ancient wisdom, which forms the basis for contemporary integrative medicine. After all, we can acknowledge that the body and mind are biologically programmed to communicate with each other. It is not a far reach to conclude, therefore, that one’s positive or negative state has direct bearing on the other. It is a complex system of connectedness, and one which we are only beginning to comprehend.