Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

Prayer Beyond Words   2 comments

shutterstock_124147789Sentinel Radio Broadcast:  An interview with guests: Barbara Vining, Ginger Mack, Michael Pabst

Is prayer just the repetition of certain words? Or is there more to it? The Psalmist said, “I will hear what God the Lord will speak.” This indicates the importance of listening for God’s direction in our prayers. The Bible also points to a number of other vital elements, including a heartfelt reverence for God, a yielding to His will, and an acknowledgment of His power.

Click on this link to listen to this 30 minute discussion about the nature of effective prayer.

 

Fearless Living is Healthy Living   1 comment

$ dreamstime_127492Eliminating fear is good for your health say experts.

Mind-Body Interventions such as patient support groups, prayer, spiritual healing and a state of calmness produced through meditation, can all help reduce bodily stress.

Fear is like luggage you carry around with you. It comes in all shapes and sizes. Some fears you can put down and walk away from. Others seem to be firmly attached to you. You know the kind I’m talking about. It can be a fear of going to the dentist, speaking in public, personal safety, not being able to pay the bills, fear of getting sick, and yes, even a fear of dying.

You often know when you feel nervous or afraid, through certain bodily sensations.  For example, you get butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms, dry mouth, shortness of breath, or rapid heartbeats. On such occasions, fear itself seems to be quite tangible, even physically concrete.

While fear appears to be expressed in a bodily way, it actually starts in thought. This may appear obvious, but it’s a point that often gets overlooked when we’re caught up in an anxious moment, or feeling ill. Being aware of this mind-body connection, provides a starting point for working beyond fear. It leads to finding a pathway for resolving a fearful situation, and to achieving better health.

One way to achieve fearless living, is to practice calm thinking whenever those internal alarm bells are sounding. According to Herbert Benson, M.D. Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and founder of the Mind Body Medical Institute, this can be accomplished by “prescribing meditation – not just medication”.  As the author or co-author of more than 170 scientific publications and seven books, Benson encourages a state of calmness through meditation as a means of reducing the bodily stress which is often engendered by fear.

While there are various ways to meditate, one method that many people have found to be effective involves spiritual thinking, or prayer.  Thoughts of divine protection, as I’ve discovered, can help dissolve fearful concerns about health and personal wellbeing. This can calm thought, prevent fear from governing the body, and correct health problems engendered by fear. And why not? Evidence of the effect of spiritual thinking on the body are not new. One pioneer and writer on health and spirituality, Mary Baker Eddy,  documented them during the last century.

Today modern health campaigner Deepak Chopra, MD, is exploring paths beyond western medicine and surgery. Although a board-certified endocrinologist, he believes that “The experiences of joy, compassion, and meditative quiescence (calmness) could be powerful tools to restore homeostasis (a state of equilibrium) and strengthen our self-repair mechanisms.”

Chopra is not alone in his views. In August 2012, I attended the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association conference in Melbourne. Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who were present, discussed ways an integrative medicine practice could help patients achieve “optimal health and healing.” This included making use of “all appropriate therapeutic approaches, health care professionals and disciplines”, as well as “Mind-Body Interventions such as patient support groups, meditation, prayer, spiritual healing, …”

Those in the medical fraternity who seek the healing of fear and of fear-related illness through complementary practices, are to be commended. As Chopra says, “The mystery of healing remains unsolved. If we combine wisdom and science, tradition and research, mind and body, there is every hope that the mystery will reveal its secrets more and more fully.”  Such unbiased inquiry as he proposes, could lead us to understand how to live a fear-free, healthy life and to the role that spiritual thinking can play in the healing that follows.

This article, Fearless Living is Healthy Living, by Beverly Goldsmith was originally published on her blog site, Spirituality and Health Connect Beverly is a Melbourne-based health writer who provides a diversity of health content on how spirituality and thought affect health.

5 Tips to All Round Better Health   Leave a comment

shutterstock_1257488601. Hope

Hope is the stuff of change, recovery and healing, according to Dr Shane Lopez, author of the new book:  Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others. “Hope is half optimism. The other half is the belief in the power that you can make it so”, writes Lopez.

Hopeful people make an investment in the future that pays off in the present: in the way they eat, exercise, conserve energy, take care of themselves and stick to their treatment plan. He suggests that this sort of “change in mind-set has the power to alter neurochemistry”.

It takes work to keep your thinking in tune with what’s good around you. For me, trust that ‘good will win’ lifts me out of the daily grind of thinking that what I see and hear is all there is to us, into a mental realm a bit higher.

2. Show Your Gratitude

Studies show that saying ‘thanks’ reduces stress, and giving back through volunteering is good for your heart, in more ways than one

For example, researchers from the University of British Columbia found that volunteers who felt more empathy and put in more time and effort not only experienced greater mental health but also better cardiovascular health.

Research cited by Dr Stephen Post in his book Why Good Things Happen to Good People also found that giving in high school predicts good physical and mental health in late adulthood; generous behaviour reduces adolescent depression and suicide risk; giving quells anxiety; giving to others helps facilitate self-forgiveness and increases your longevity; giving is so powerful that sometimes even just ‘thinking’ charitable thoughts helps us.

This could be the right moment to volunteer to do Meals on Wheels or tuck shop duty, offer to coach your friend in maths or put up your hand to coach the soccer team …. and give thanks. It could not only help others, but also help you.

3. Love

We need to move past our cultural preconceptions that sometimes equate love only with infatuation, sexual desire or fairytale endings. Love is kindness and compassion.

“Love literally [makes] people healthier”, reported Dr Barbara Fredrickson, Professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina.

“People tend to liken their emotions [like loving] to the weather, viewing them as uncontrollable,” said Fredrickson. This research shows not only that our emotions are controllable, but also that we can take the reins of our daily emotions and steer ourselves toward better physical health.

Love – moments of warmth, connection and openness sprinkled throughout your day – holds the key to improving our mental and physical health as well as lengthening our life.

4. Forgive

It’s one of the hardest things to do, but if you do it will make a big difference to your happiness, your relationships and your health.

For example, researchers from the University of California in San Diego found that people who let go of their anger could decrease the physical effects of stress.

Forgiveness is aptly described as ‘a change of heart’. Iowa doctor, Katherine Hurst MD, says, “I had a patient who went through a rough divorce and it took her years to get over it. She was on antidepressants, blood pressure meds and sleeping pills. When she finally forgave him and forgot about the marriage she was able to go off all of them”.

5. Meditate

Take some time to meditate, or contemplate, each morning, even if only for a few minutes. Studies have shown that prayer, meditation and attendance at religious services all benefit health in ways that scientists cannot fully explain.

“… [meditating] even 5 or 10 minutes, say a couple of times a day can start to produce significant benefits”, affirms Dr Craig Hassad, internationally recognised expert in Mindfulness Meditation, now a resident at Monash University Medical School. And it seems that many can now attest to the health benefits of doing just that.

The inclusion of meditation or prayer as part of our health care is increasingly being recommended by doctors to treat both mental and physical illness. In time, could meditation be seen as ‘the new normal’?

I find that using only one of these fabulous 5 tips brightens my day and makes me feel a whole lot better – renewed and revitalised – which points to the proposition that we’re much more than just a body.

It’s clear that these 5 easy tips are mental change agents that empower us, and make us happier and more fulfilled.

Growing numbers of people are seeing how mental approaches like this also lead to surprisingly better physical and mental health.

This article is by Kay Stroud. Kay is a health writer focussing on the leading edge of consciousness, spirituality and health. Her articles can be found on Health4Thinkers.

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