Explore the healing power of forgiveness

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Forgiveness is being discussed in some surprising places these days. No longer confined to discussions about religion and moral philosophy, forgiveness is expanding its well-established role as a virtue and taking its place as an important, maybe even essential, element of physical well-being. "Conflict doesn't just weigh down the spirit; it can lead to physical health issues," the Healthy Aging page of the Johns Hopkins Medicine website tells us. And the Healthy Lifestyle page of the Mayo Clinic website includes this: "When someone you care about hurts you, you can hold on to anger, resentment and thoughts of revenge — or embrace forgiveness and move forward. … Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for happiness, health and peace." There's a powerful illustration of that in a recent cover story ofThe Christian Science Monitor. The title sums it up well: "After 39 years in prison, an epic tale of innocence found and bitterness lost." Ricky Jackson is a Continue Reading

Face fear of disease head on

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You know things are bad when "phobophobia" (fear of fear itself) becomes one of 530 documented phobias now on record. Many medical doctors agree that a large percentage of disease is rooted in fear and anxiety. These are also the biggest drivers of overdiagnosis and overtreatment, two chief causes of the upward spiraling cost of health care. Gilbert Welch chronicles and analyzes this phenomenon in his 2012 book Overdiagnosed: Making People Sick in the Pursuit of Health. Here are some ideas I've found helpful in battling the fear of disease that surrounds and sometimes overwhelms us: Tune out. We can be selective about what we mentally absorb through the media, especially TV. Tuning out negative advertising can help eliminate the fearful expectation of disease. Drug commercial images of pain-racked actors and descriptions of disease and dysfunction often stay with us mentally and create fear and suffering. Researchers call this the "nocebo effect," where negative expectations Continue Reading

Mindfully create better health in a variety of ways

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Can we create health? What if we could? How would that affect our own health and our nation's health care system? • Don Berwick, CEO and founder of the Harvard-­based Institute for Health Improvement, has said, "We would be better off to re­direct some of our health care enterprise from fighting illness to pursuing health, going from health care to health creation." • How can we make that shift on an individual basis? Here are some practical ideas for our own health creation — or, for you fellow etymologists, 1   A healthy mind: Actually, the word salutogenesis has another meaning, too: the origin of health. So where does health originate? Conventional wisdom would say it comes from some combination of genetics, environment and behavior. But let's be unconventional for a moment and consider a more radical idea. The current mindfulness trend, which Parade magazine recently claimed to be the "#1 Health Booster for 2015," points to the mental nature of health. This leads to an even Continue Reading

Love and Health

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Let’s give Valentine’s Day a boost and celebrate by taking a deeper look at love. Whether you prefer John Lennon’s anthem, “All you need is love”,  the bold Biblical statement from the Book of John, “God is love.”  or perhaps Emma Seppala’s research out of Stanford – showing the scientific connection between love and health – there’s good reason to believe in the extraordinary healing power of love. My father was a believer in love’s healing power. As he lay dying from a bullet wound in the South Pacific during WWII, that bold Biblical statement, “God is love.” was his only connection to life. As that life was slipping away and his sight was fading all he could see were those three words that had been written on his Sunday School wall back in South Bend, Indiana. As it turned out his younger brother had found him in the army hospital, where he had been given up for dead, and was reading him those exact words from the Bible. My dad survived and lived a long and healthy life as Continue Reading

Humble Prayer and Better Health

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Prayer, the act of humbling one’s self before a higher power to find wisdom and healing, can offer solutions to even our most challenging local and national health dilemmas. And there’s never any lack of unhealthy situations that are begging for such solutions! One of our most pressing but somewhat hidden problems is the plight of homeless children. In response, the Christian Science church I belong to recently started a matching fund to help local children facing life without a home. Money came in immediately and our Sunday School children committed to making these children bags of school supplies at the beginning of the school year and snack bags throughout the year. We did this because we discovered that the number of homeless kids in our area is five times greater than five years ago and apparently growing worse. We prayed and this was a very practical answer. Our church members, a small but friendly and committed group, believe that prayer and health go together. When we see Continue Reading

5 Ways to Beat Holiday Depression

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For many, the holiday season is a joyous time, but for some folks it can be a rough season to get through. If you Google “holiday depression”or better still “beating holiday depression” you’ll find lots of top 10 lists. Below is my own top 5 list. 1. Be grateful. Research at Harvard, and at major universities in Florida, Texas and California has now proven the mental, emotional and even physical benefits of taking some time each day to be grateful. Keep a gratitude journal. Write a thank you note. Thank someone mentally. It’s a great way to protect your natural joy. A hymn I’ve come to love suggests a lovely metaphor about gratitude as a protective power: “A grateful heart a fortress is, a staunch and rugged tower, where God’s omnipotence revealed girds man with mighty power.” Spiritual healer and author, Mary Baker Eddy, writing about gratitude in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, suggested gratitude as an activity: “Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of Continue Reading

A new perspective on health

“I had every problem you can imagine”, says Milagros Arguello, a resident of the Brickell area of Miami. She had diabetes, a sleep disorder, high blood pressure, addictive behaviors, not to mention a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. On top of all that, she was unemployed and uninsured.  But she’s living up to her name by experiencing a “miracle”, which is defined by health care pioneer, Mary Baker Eddy, as “...that which is divinely natural”. Many people would just give up on life, but not Milagros, one of the most courageous women I’ve talked with. Somehow she knew in her heart that she would overcome the odds and find health and peace. Having studied the work of Dr. Carl Simonton and Dr. Andrew Weil, leaders and pioneers of integrative medicine, she looked for a local physician, whose work integrated spiritual practices and lifestyle choices with a physical care program. She really wanted to find transformation and a path beyond drugs, surgery, to true healing, beyond her body. On Continue Reading

Defining Health

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People have been defining and re-defining the word “health” for a long time now. Today the word most often refers to physical health, and the phrase “health care” has come to mean primarily care of the body. But it hasn’t always been that way. For many centuries before ours, the Anglo-Saxon word “hal”, the root word of health, had several inter-related meanings: healthy, whole, holy and healing. And if you were from the Latin speaking part of the world the words “salus” and “salvatio” meaning health and salvation, were just as inseparable. In other words, health, healing, salvation and spirituality were all part of the same package and were almost universally understood as such. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad or backward thing. Looking for a simple contemporary definition of health, I did a quick web search recently and uncovered this “Brainy Quotes” definition from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “Health is not a condition of matter, but of Mind.” Author and Continue Reading

Laughter Provides Benefits for a Healthy Life

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It's a funny thing. Research continues to prove that humor can help to improve our physical health. America's most famous humorist, Mark Twain, said it a little differently when he remarked that "The human race has one really effective weapon, and that is laughter." Among the examples of how that weapon works are the amazing stories of soldiers' ability to endure starvation, tropical diseases and torture in prison camps during World War II, as told in Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides. Humor was about the only weapon the soldiers had, and it was often effective in helping them manage fear and maintain their health against fearsome odds. Some of them actually found ways to laugh at their absurd circumstances and sadistic captors. Humor had the power to break the despotic control of fear, disease and despair. This, in turn, allowed many of them to endure an otherwise unendurable horror . . . and survive. The PBS show This Emotional Life aired a "Benefits of Humor" segment last year Continue Reading

Posttraumatic growth is ‘surprisingly positive flip side’ of PTSD

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Shakespeare may have said it best in As You Like It: "Sweet are the uses of adversity, Which, like the toad, ugly and venomous, Wears yet a precious jewel in his head." Science is now helping to explain the Bard's positive spin on adversity by researching what the New York Times recently called posttraumatic stress disorder's "surprisingly positive flip side": posttraumatic growth, or PTG. According to Richard Tedeschi, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina who studies PTG, people are routinely reporting positive changes from trauma in five areas: • A renewed appreciation for life • New possibilities for themselves • More personal strength • Improved relationships • More spiritual satisfaction Tedeschi's research and other similar studies should sound a positive note and offer some hope for people with PTSD. So why don't we hear more about this? In a recent interview with Harvard Business Review, Martin Seligman, director of the Positive Continue Reading