Monday , May 20 2024
Spirituality and prayer - at the core of health.

How Illusive Is Health?

Most of the world knows what’s going on in Hollywood because that’s what Hollywood does best – show the world how artistic and creative the entertainment capital of the world is.

Since I’m really a transplanted Midwesterner, I developed my insights about Hollywood and its workings through my wife when she was in graduate school studying theatre arts. She was preceded at her university by Tennessee Williams, whose Master’s thesis was rejected by the head of the department with the statement, “Every artist must paint his nudes.” The rejected thesis was “The Glass Menagerie.” Well, we know what happened with “The Glass Menagerie” – it became a classic.

Today, my interest has been aroused by the passionate debates about health care. Some proposals have recently been introduced, such as mandatory and standard benefit insurance coverage. Will this debate need to go through what “The Glass Menagerie” went through, and what will be the result?

As this debate continues, evidence is mounting that more than just the body needs to be considered when treating for health – that mind-body and spiritual qualities are integral to health. For example, UCLA is one of nine locations funded by the Templeton Group Foundation to develop tools for physicians and chaplains to work together in treating patients. This initiative ties in with the 2002 NIH study indicating that when complementary therapies were used for patient treatment, of the ten therapies assessed, prayer was the most used by patients (43%).

Even within the medical field, physicians are validating the need for spiritual care. A survey of American family physicians found that 99 percent of these physicians are convinced that spiritual beliefs can heal. Further, 75 percent believe that the prayers of others can help a patient recover more quickly. This opening of thought is also evident in the general public, as shown by a Pew Research survey in which 36 percent of Americans say they’ve experienced or seen healing through prayer.

From biblical times to the contemporary, individuals such as Dr. Herbert Benson, a cardiovascular specialist at Harvard Medical School and a pioneer in the field of mind/body medicine, have found the link between thought and the body. Dr. Benson found that when he started his medical practice more than 35 years ago, the term “mind/body medicine” was unknown. Contrary to the medical thought of the late 1960’s, his work linked stress to physical health. Now he feels gratified by today’s unprecedented interest in the unity of mind and body and working in this scientifically validated field.

Mary Baker Eddy, an early researcher, and the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, noted, “If we understood the control of Mind over body, we should put no faith in material means.”

As Hollywood continues to lead thought in presenting art forms, researchers and patients are in a position to lead thought toward the fact that spirituality and prayer are more than just options. They are at the core of health.

Photo Credit: ce matin, un lapin

About Don Ingwerson

Previously in the education sector as Superintendent of Schools, Don Ingwerson now serves as the media and legislative liaison for Christian Science in Southern California and corrects misconceptions about Christian Science. Don is a frequent blogger about health and spirituality.

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