Is there a connection between faith and health?

Is there a connection between faith and health? Historically science has not embraced the connection between faith and health but today, an increasing number of scientific authorities acknowledge that spiritual practices, including prayer, worship, and service to others, influence our health.

One of those people who welcome and is driving this shift is Greg Anderson. Diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in 1984, Greg's surgeon predicted he had just 30 days to live. "The shift that is underway is historic," said Anderson from his Cancer Recovery Foundation of America offices in Harrisburg. "We are now witnessing the uniting of science and spirit, the combination of body, mind, and soul, to reveal the stunning effects of faith on both physical and emotional health." Anderson, along with United Methodist Pastor Michael Gingerich, has revised Anderson's classic, The Cancer Conqueror to address this critical health-faith connection.

The Cancer Conqueror with Bible Study is an uplifting guide to cancer patients and support networks of the Judeo-Christian faith. The book is currently available only through the Cancer Recovery Foundation website at www.CancerRecovery.org.

The historical link between science and religion began to crumble centuries ago as a reluctant church held fast to positions that science could empirically refute. "But today," said Anderson, "the shoe is on the other foot. Based on over 30 years of compelling data, medicine can no longer simply dismiss the role that faith plays in both the prevention of and recovery from illness.

"What I am seeing is a new whole-person sensibility," said Anderson. "It combines body, mind, and spirit in the best sense, a powerful blend of the scientific and what I believe should rightly be called the mystic. Instead of limiting the roles of healthcare providers, I see an expansion, an amalgam of skills, including part scientist, nutritionist, psychologist, and spiritual guide. The result is a new and vital healing paradigm that is now rippling through the American healthcare system."

Anderson has devoted the last 20 years to the study and teaching of this synthesis. Today he is widely recognized as one of America's foremost healing authorities. Author of seven books, including the 1.5 million copy international bestseller, The Cancer Conqueror, he sees a rapidly emerging agenda that draws on the knowledge available to us from experimental science, the wisdom gleaned from the personal experiences of patients, and the stories of healing from the world's great religious traditions.

Explained Anderson, "The stories of healing are always the most moving. They tend to fall into three groups. First are those who may not be completely cured of their illness but who learn to cope with illness through prayer and other forms of spiritual practice. For others, the faith/health connection may mean stopping the progression of an illness like cancer or heart disease. Still others experience the reversal or complete healing of their disease. It is impossible to predict or control the level of healing. But all typically result in a deep sense of inner peace. This almost always offers some degree of improvement and can be truly powerful."

Based in Hershey, the non-profit organization's mission is to help all people prevent and survive cancer. The organization's reach spans the globe and has been helping people since 1985.

Cancer Recovery Foundation focuses on the "people side" of cancer. It emphasizes a whole-person approach to getting well again, pioneering the "cancer survival pyramid," a tool widely used in cancer education.

Cancer Recovery Foundation's adult programs include retreats and support groups that emphasize healthy diets, ability-appropriate exercise, mind/body and faith/health disciplines. Cancer Survival and Bible Study Kits are available to all cancer patients. All Cancer Recovery programs are in addition to, not in place of, conventional medical treatments.

The Foundation's children's programs provide toy-filled gift bags to children during treatment, camp scholarships following treatment and emergency financial assistance to families in need.

Cancer Recovery Foundation serves through healthcare providers and directly to individuals. Its adult programs, services and materials are available through more than 300 cancer treatment centers throughout the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain and Germany. The Foundation's children's programs and services are available through more than 170 pediatric oncology treatment centers across the United States. A special medical mission outreach also is providing pediatric oncology services in Uganda and Ukraine.

To obtain a copy of The Cancer Conqueror with Bible Study or to find out how to start a support group in your place of worship, please call (800) 238-6479 or visit the website, http://www.cancerrecovery.org.

By: Susan Cort

Original Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/27202.php

More Spiritual Health...

Is there a connection between faith and health? Historically science has not embraced the connection between faith and health but today, an increasing number of scientific authorities acknowledge that spiritual practices, including prayer, worship, and service to others, influence our health.

One of those people who welcome and is driving this shift is Greg Anderson. Diagnosed with metastatic lung cancer in 1984, Greg's surgeon predicted he had just 30 days to live. "The shift that is underway is historic," said Anderson from his Cancer Recovery Foundation of America offices in Harrisburg. "We are now witnessing the uniting of science and spirit, the combination of body, mind, and soul, to reveal the stunning effects of faith on both physical and emotional health." Anderson, along with United Methodist Pastor Michael Gingerich, has revised Anderson's classic, The Cancer Conqueror to address this critical health-faith connection.

The Cancer Conqueror with Bible Study is an uplifting guide to cancer patients and support networks of the Judeo-Christian faith. The book is currently available only through the Cancer Recovery Foundation website at www.CancerRecovery.org.

The historical link between science and religion began to crumble centuries ago as a reluctant church held fast to positions that science could empirically refute. "But today," said Anderson, "the shoe is on the other foot. Based on over 30 years of compelling data, medicine can no longer simply dismiss the role that faith plays in both the prevention of and recovery from illness.

"What I am seeing is a new whole-person sensibility," said Anderson. "It combines body, mind, and spirit in the best sense, a powerful blend of the scientific and what I believe should rightly be called the mystic. Instead of limiting the roles of healthcare providers, I see an expansion, an amalgam of skills, including part scientist, nutritionist, psychologist, and spiritual guide. The result is a new and vital healing paradigm that is now rippling through the American healthcare system."

Anderson has devoted the last 20 years to the study and teaching of this synthesis. Today he is widely recognized as one of America's foremost healing authorities. Author of seven books, including the 1.5 million copy international bestseller, The Cancer Conqueror, he sees a rapidly emerging agenda that draws on the knowledge available to us from experimental science, the wisdom gleaned from the personal experiences of patients, and the stories of healing from the world's great religious traditions.

Explained Anderson, "The stories of healing are always the most moving. They tend to fall into three groups. First are those who may not be completely cured of their illness but who learn to cope with illness through prayer and other forms of spiritual practice. For others, the faith/health connection may mean stopping the progression of an illness like cancer or heart disease. Still others experience the reversal or complete healing of their disease. It is impossible to predict or control the level of healing. But all typically result in a deep sense of inner peace. This almost always offers some degree of improvement and can be truly powerful."

Based in Hershey, the non-profit organization's mission is to help all people prevent and survive cancer. The organization's reach spans the globe and has been helping people since 1985.

Cancer Recovery Foundation focuses on the "people side" of cancer. It emphasizes a whole-person approach to getting well again, pioneering the "cancer survival pyramid," a tool widely used in cancer education.

Cancer Recovery Foundation's adult programs include retreats and support groups that emphasize healthy diets, ability-appropriate exercise, mind/body and faith/health disciplines. Cancer Survival and Bible Study Kits are available to all cancer patients. All Cancer Recovery programs are in addition to, not in place of, conventional medical treatments.

The Foundation's children's programs provide toy-filled gift bags to children during treatment, camp scholarships following treatment and emergency financial assistance to families in need.

Cancer Recovery Foundation serves through healthcare providers and directly to individuals. Its adult programs, services and materials are available through more than 300 cancer treatment centers throughout the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain and Germany. The Foundation's children's programs and services are available through more than 170 pediatric oncology treatment centers across the United States. A special medical mission outreach also is providing pediatric oncology services in Uganda and Ukraine.

To obtain a copy of The Cancer Conqueror with Bible Study or to find out how to start a support group in your place of worship, please call (800) 238-6479 or visit the website, http://www.cancerrecovery.org.

By: Susan Cort

Original Article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/27202.php

According to a study conducted by researchers at the University of Missouri, spirituality improves the health of most people, both of seemingly healthy individuals and those with conditions and illnesses. The study is published in the Journal of Religion and Health.

The team highlight that healthcare providers could tailor treatments and rehabilitation programs to accommodate an individual's spiritual inclinations.

Dan Cohen, assistant teaching professor of religious studies at MU, explained:

"In many ways, the results of our study support the idea that spirituality functions as a personality trait. With increased spirituality people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe. What was interesting was that frequency of participation in religious activities or the perceived degree of congregational support was not found to be significant in the relationships between personality, spirituality, religion and health."

The team examined the results of three surveys in order to find out whether there might be any correlation between self-reported mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality in Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics, and Protestants.

The team found that in all five faiths, spirituality was associated with better mental health, specifically lower levels of neuroticism and greater extroversion. The only spiritual trait predictive of mental health after personality variables were considered was forgiveness.

Cohen, said:

"Our prior research shows that the mental health of people recovering from different medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs and especially congregational support and spiritual interventions. Spiritual beliefs may be a coping device to help individuals deal emotionally with stress."

According to Cohen, spirituality could help an individual's mental healthy by lowering their self-centeredness and developing their sense of belonging to a larger whole.

Spirituality is encouraged in many different faith traditions, although they use a variety of names for the process. A Christian monk wouldn't say he had attained Nirvana, nor would a Buddhist monk say he had communed with Jesus Christ, but they may well be referring to similar phenomena.

Cohen explains: "Health workers may also benefit from learning how to minimize the negative side of a patient's spirituality, which may manifest itself in the tendency to view misfortune as a divine curse."

Religious-based counseling, meditation, and forgiveness protocols may improve spirituality-based beliefs, practices, and coping strategies in positive ways, according to the researchers.

Cohen believes that the selflessness that comes with spirituality improves characteristics that are vital for fostering a global society based on the virtues of peace and cooperation.

By Grace Rattue
Copyright: Medical News Today
Original article: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/249341.php

Taking the path less traveled by exploring your spirituality can lead to a clearer life purpose, better personal relationships and enhanced stress management skills.

Some stress relief tools are very tangible: exercising more, eating healthy foods and talking with friends. A less tangible — but no less useful — way to find stress relief is through spirituality.

What is spirituality?

Spirituality has many definitions, but at its core spirituality helps to give our lives context. It's not necessarily connected to a specific belief system or even religious worship. Instead, it arises from your connection with yourself and with others, the development of your personal value system, and your search for meaning in life.

For many, spirituality takes the form of religious observance, prayer, meditation or a belief in a higher power. For others, it can be found in nature, music, art or a secular community. Spirituality is different for everyone.

How can spirituality help with stress relief?

Spirituality has many benefits for stress relief and overall mental health. It can help you:

  • Feel a sense of purpose. Cultivating your spirituality may help uncover what's most meaningful in your life. By clarifying what's most important, you can focus less on the unimportant things and eliminate stress.
  • Connect to the world. The more you feel you have a purpose in the world, the less solitary you feel — even when you're alone. This can lead to a valuable inner peace during difficult times.
  • Release control. When you feel part of a greater whole, you realize that you aren't responsible for everything that happens in life. You can share the burden of tough times as well as the joys of life's blessings with those around you.
  • Expand your support network. Whether you find spirituality in a church, mosque or synagogue, in your family, or in walks with a friend through nature, this sharing of spiritual expression can help build relationships.
  • Lead a healthier life. People who consider themselves spiritual appear to be better able to cope with stress and heal from illness or addiction faster.

Discovering your spirituality

Uncovering your spirituality may take some self-discovery. Here are some questions to ask yourself to discover what experiences and values define you:

  • What are your important relationships?
  • What do you most value in your life?
  • What people give you a sense of community?
  • What inspires you and gives you hope?
  • What brings you joy?
  • What are your proudest achievements?

The answers to such questions help you identify the most important people and experiences in your life. With this information, you can focus your search for spirituality on the relationships and activities in life that have helped define you as a person and those that continue to inspire your personal growth.

Cultivating your spirituality

Spirituality also involves getting in touch with your inner self. A key component is self-reflection. Try these tips:

  • Try prayer, meditation and relaxation techniques to help focus your thoughts and find peace of mind.
  • Keep a journal to help you express your feelings and record your progress.
  • Seek out a trusted adviser or friend who can help you discover what's important to you in life. Others may have insights that you haven't yet discovered.
  • Read inspirational stories or essays to help you evaluate different philosophies of life.
  • Talk to others whose spiritual lives you admire. Ask questions to learn how they found their way to a fulfilling spiritual life.

Nurturing your relationships

Spirituality is also nurtured by your relationships with others. Realizing this, it's essential to foster relationships with the people who are important to you. This can lead to a deepened sense of your place in life and in the greater good.

  • Make relationships with friends and family a priority. Give more than you receive.
  • See the good in people and in yourself. Accept others as they are, without judgment.
  • Contribute to your community by volunteering.

Pursuing a spiritual life

Staying connected to your inner spirit and the lives of those around you can enhance your quality of life, both mentally and physically. Your personal concept of spirituality may change with your age and life experiences, but it always forms the basis of your well-being, helps you cope with stressors large and small, and affirms your purpose in life.

By Mayo Clinic staff

Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/stress-relief/SR00035

Can spirituality promote a healthier physical life for your family? Recent medical studies indicate that spiritual people exhibit fewer self-destructive behaviors (suicide, smoking, and drug and alcohol abuse, for example), less stress, and a greater total life satisfaction.

Much of the research linking spiritual and physical health has involved elderly patients; however, the data offer a glimpse into a possible tie between a spiritual life and good health for people of all ages.

Although spirituality has been shown to reduce depression, improve blood pressure, and boost the immune system, religious beliefs should not interfere with the medical care kids receive.

So what exactly is spirituality and how can it enhance your family's health?

Spirituality and Physical Health

Doctors and scientists once avoided the study of spirituality in connection to medicine, but findings within the past 10 years have made some take a second look. Studies show that religion and faith can help to promote good health and fight disease by:

  • offering additional social supports, such as religious outreach groups
  • improving coping skills through prayer and a philosophy that all things have a purpose

Although research on kids hasn't been done, many studies focusing on adults point to the positive effects of spirituality on medical outcome:

  • In a 7-year study of senior citizens, religious involvement was associated with less physical disability and less depression. Death rates were lower than expected before an important religious holiday, which suggested to researchers that faith might have postponed death in these cases.
  • Elderly people who regularly attended religious services had healthier immune systems than those who didn't. They were also more likely to have consistently lower blood pressure.
  • Patients undergoing open-heart surgery who received strength and comfort from their religion were three times more likely to survive than those who had no religious ties.

Spirituality and Mental Health

Religious and spiritual beliefs are an important part of how many people deal with life's joys and hardships. Faith can provide people with a sense of purpose and guidelines for living.

When families face tough situations, including health problems, their religious beliefs and practices can help them fight feelings of helplessness, restore meaning and order to life situations, and promote regaining a sense of control. For some families, spirituality can be a powerful and important source of strength.

Medical studies have confirmed that spirituality can have a profound effect on mental states. In a study of men who were hospitalized, nearly half rated religion as helpful in coping with their illness. A second study showed that the more religious patients were, the more quickly they recovered from some disorders. A third study revealed that high levels of hope and optimism, key factors in fighting depression, were found among those who strictly practiced their religion.

Can Spiritual Beliefs Enhance Parenting?

Attending organized religious services may help some families connect with their spiritual values, but it's not the only way. Less traditional paths also can help kids and parents find spiritual meaning.

To foster spirituality within your own family, you may want to examine your own values. Ask yourself: What is important to me? How well do my daily activities mirror my values? Do I neglect issues that matter to me because I'm busy spending time on things that matter less?

Here are other suggestions to start your family's spiritual journey:

  • Explore your roots. In examining your shared past, you and your kids may connect with values of earlier times and places, and gain a sense of your extended family's history and values.
  • Examine your involvement in the community. If you're already involved in a group, maybe you will want to take on a larger role — first for you, then as a role model for your kids. If you haven't joined a community group, consider investigating those in your area.
  • Recall the feelings you had at the birth or adoption of your child. Try to get back to that moment in your mind, remembering the hopes and dreams you had. It can be the start of a search for similar or related feelings in your everyday life.
  • Share some silence with your kids. Take a few minutes for silent meditation alone or together. Think about parenthood, your life as an individual, and your place in the larger scheme of things. Spend time discussing these thoughts with your kids and listen to their ideas on what spirituality means.
  • Take a nature walk. Nature has long been an inspiration and spiritual guide. A walk will relax you and allow you to contemplate the wonders of the world around you.
  • Read books that express spiritual ideas with your kids and share your thoughts about what you're reading.

This search can be conducted on your own or as part of a larger group — a religious community, friends, or your own family. Making a spiritual journey might help you and your family live a healthier life, both emotionally and physically.

Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: August 2011

Original Article: http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/feelings/spirituality.html