“Over 80% of Americans directly feel God’s love according to a survey conducted by the organization funded by the John Templeton Foundation”.
This was reported by Steven Salt last month in an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (Cleveland.com) entitled, “Love delivers healthy makeover”.
With some recent incidents in the news that just call out for compassion, this is good news.
Salt writes about a four-year initiative called the Flame of Love Project. He reports on how feeling God’s love increases compassion for others and how that often translates into acts of benevolence, which in turn are beneficial to the giver.
This love-impelled activity:
Improves physical well-being;
Raises self-confidence and self-esteem;
May even help you live longer.
Taking an even broader perspective on love, the Fetzer Institute here in Michigan is focusing on how “individual awareness of love and forgiveness can make a transformative impact on the world.”
It appears that whether the issue is big or small, love delivers.
Here’s a GUEST POST by Rich Evans, a colleague of mine in Arizona, about integrative medicine and a growing shift towards spiritual well being. Rich grew up in Michigan – in St. Joe – and spent summers working in Leelanau. He is currently the spokesperson for Christian Science in the state of Arizona – a state in which integrative medicine has early roots. Here’s his thoughtful piece.
“Whole-body Healing” … Good Step
The Arizona Republic recently ran an article (Friday, January 5, 2013) in its “your health” section entitled, “Whole-body Healing” written by Ken Alltucker. The article focused on patient centered, integrative medicine. Good news…the founder of the term “integrative medicine” is in our backyard. While the field is growing, the term and concept have been developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, who heads the University of Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (CIM). As the article indicates, integrative medicine, while viewed in various ways, can be defined as “the practice of combining conventional medicine with complementary and alternative medical techniques that are supported by medical literature or evidence”. This is a breakthrough article for this column.
The article further described that the CIM has opened an office in Phoenix, the Arizona Integrative Health Center, which approaches health with the patient at the focus of the practice, rather than the disease. Then, there are several examples given of work being performed at the Mayo Clinic and by an individual psychiatrist in their respective practices using integrative medicine techniques successfully. I find all of this encouraging, as it begins to recognize healing as involving a more complete understanding of the whole person as patient. The examples given demonstrate that solutions emerged when either habits of thinking or acting were corrected, demonstrating the importance of thought on the body and its connection to healing.
One has to appreciate the courage, candor, and clarity shared by Drs. Bergstrom (Mayo), Hernandez (independent psychiatrist), and Rula (medical director of the CIM), as they push the frontiers of their professions into a more holistic frame. In the article, among the varied healing strategies of patient centered, integrative medicine, there was a brief mention of spiritual well-being as part of the “whole”. Given that among the stated purposes of the CIM are evidence-based and lower cost methods, spiritual well-being may be key to achieving those goals.
The spiritual basis of healing is perhaps the longest running method in the spectrum of integrative healing, actively utilized well before that term existed. Not only can we find numerous accounts in Biblical history, especially after the establishment of Christianity, but there is ample evidence today of its efficacy. My own experience includes healing of pain, viruses, malaria, and many other disorders all through spiritual prayer…prayer that is not wishful thinking or a function of the human brain, but a recognition of divine, loving consciousness, divine Mind, if you will, reflected in our individual thought and lives. More than a remedy, the advantage of spiritual well-being, is that it includes a fulfilling sense of identity and health for all, without economic barriers.
I like the direction of The Arizona Republic article and hope that the “whole-body” concept continues to expand the role of spiritual well-being. Perhaps we will learn that it is at the center of our health. It certainly is for me.
“Let’s see if I can help him with a jolt of energy, a thought of love and perhaps a prayer.” writes Phil Mikan in the New Britain Herald in Connecticut last Sunday. This is what he thought when he came across a wounded butterfly.
It’s interesting to me that he had been researching “the energy we call love” for several months leading up to this.
Mary Baker Eddy also found that Love heals. She grew up in New England and founded the Christian Science church and wrote in a message¹ to her church, “The energy that saves sinners and heals the sick is divine: and Love is the Principle thereof.”
This experience with a butterfly is, as Mikan himself calls it, a very special story. He also calls it a miracle story or event that seldom happens, but really it is quite natural – certainly natural to the divine – and shouldn’t we find this kind of thing to be more commonplace?
His account is not preachy or terribly long but is truly heart-warming and well worth a read. To see exactly what happened to the butterfly click here.
¹ Message to The First Church of Christ, Scientist, June 15, 1902, page 8
I watched Diane Sawyer’s exclusive interview with Gabrielle (“Gabby”) Giffords and her husband Mark Kelley on ABC TV’s 20/20 last night. It was very moving! And it was wonderful to see the progress that Congresswoman Giffords has made since she was shot in the head last January.
Her husband Mark said he believes that optimism is a form of healing and hope a form of love. He said, “You can’t have too much hope“. Sawyer shared how Gabby’s husband Mark and her mother Gloria formed an indomitable alliance of optimism.
Recently, while in an airport waiting for a flight, I heard on CNN a summary of an article by Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent for CNN, in which it was pointed out that bitterness is bad for our health.
In her article Cohen shares some significant points made by some contributors to a new book entitled, “Embitterment: Societal, psychological, and clinical perspectives.” In short, bitterness interferes with the body’s hormonal and immune systems, leads to higher blood pressure and contributes to heart disease and other illnesses.
A study published in 2000 by the American Psychological Association found that “religious involvement was significantly associated with lower mortality.” Similarly, a study published in The American Journal of Public Health in 1997 found that frequent religious attendance reduced mortality.
Researchers suspect some of this comes from healthier behaviors and more social interaction characteristic of those with religious involvement. But, to their credit, they accept that the research results show a connection between religious involvement and reduced mortality and indicate that more research is needed to understand why.
I recently read an interesting book entitled, “Long For This World – The Strange Science of Immortality” by Jonathan Weiner. Much of the book centers on conversations with Aubrey de Grey who believes that aging is a disease caused by the accumulation of waste at the cellular level, sometimes called the “disposable soma theory”.
Blushing provides a great example, I think, of how consciousness can affect health. An emotional response in thought (e.g. feeling embarrassment) has a direct effect on the body – a change in blood flow seen as blushing in the face. I have found that through prayer, a change in thought resulting from feeling a connection to God, or feeling God’s love, can result in physical healing.
So I was pleasantly surprised to come across some of Charles Darwin’s writings about blushing in Chapter 13 of his book, The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals (see pages 325-326). Now I’m not getting into any debate here between evolution and creationism. I’m just sharing interesting insights from a well-known and respected naturalist.
Darwin wrote (emphasis added by me), “It is not the simple act of reflecting on our own appearance, but the thinkingwhat others think of us, which excites a blush.
“What is now proved, was once only imagined.” – William Blake
Earlier this month Israeli scientist Daniel Shechtman was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for his discovery of a new chemical structure called quasicrystals that researchers considered to be impossible. Initially the scientific community was reluctant to accept his discovery, to the point where he endured mockery and even expulsion from his research team. The Academy said that his discovery “fundamentally altered how chemists conceive of solid matter”. This recognition came with a $1.5 million award.
This news item got me to thinking about “possible” and “impossible”. It seems that we deem things to be impossible until we have evidence to the contrary. Man couldn’t fly, until of course, the Wright brothers proved that we could. It is impossible to run a mile in under 4 minutes – or so we thought, until Roger Bannister did this.