Tag Archives: Prayer

Simple Prayer

The most important thing we can do today is pray.

It turns out most of us already know that, even if we don’t talk about it. Nine out of ten Americans have turned to prayer for healing at some point according to a study.

Calamities and sickness impel many to turn to God whether religious-minded or not. “For active believers and people of faith, prayer, including for healing, is more than a situationally motivated response to one’s own suffering; it is an ongoing expression of piety and of taking up the yoke to be of service to others,” writes  the study’s author, Jeff Levine at Baylor University.   Read more…

Staying healthy shouldn’t be a high wire act

Congratulations to Nik Wallenda on his high wire feat in Chicago. I can’t imagine being in his shoes, but it got me thinking about the nagging fear that consistent, reliable health is on shaky footing.



Could you ever imagine walking a tightrope high off the ground blindfolded with no net to catch you?  One false step and…

HealthInkLogo (1)That’s a popular take on staying healthy: one wrong move and…  Any approach to wellness can be full of angst for those who feel it’s all about walking a fine line.  The question is: How do we stay grounded amidst the barrage of health worries and warnings?  Walking a spiritual path may be the best answer.

News, advertisements and water-cooler talk have encouraged incessant contemplation of ill health and the alarm that every malady the world has to offer is coming at us, ready to knock us over.  Fear for our welfare is a conditioned response educated in our culture, unleashing high anxiety when news about disease and contagion saturates public attention.  Read more…


Healthy, wealthy and wise

iStock photo
iStock photo

“Early to bed and early to rise,” the proverb goes “makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Seems like great advice in our drive to staying healthy even though studies indicate most of us aren’t getting enough sleep these days.

While old adages can offer helpful insights, when it comes to maintaining our health, a mountain of new information is available based on research.  Unfortunately, it has both useful and dubious results.

Studies on diet, vitamins, stress, and smoking and their impact on health get pretty wide coverage in the media.  Then there are other research findings that leave you scratching your head.  A study out of the University of California, San Diego found that people with “positive” initials like A.C.E. or V.I.P might live longer that those with “negative” initials like P.I.G. or D.I.E.. And there are studies that point to the health benefits of watching TV reruns or swearing to relieve pain.  What do you do with information like that?

The fact is, there have been so many health research studies published over the years and so many voices promoting a particular approach to well-being, the health consumer is often confused.

February is Wise Health Consumer Month.  The American Institute for Preventive Medicine sponsors the observance to help empower consumers to better “understand their options, communicate with their care providers and make educated decisions about their own health.”

“Studies show that Americans spend more time researching car purchases and new appliances than they do choosing doctors and health plans,” according to the institute’s website. “We’re not even sure we have options.” That’s a good point.

Most of the conversation surrounding health care choices has dealt with insurance coverage, doctor selection, and brand name drugs versus generic substitutions.  And a lot of the debate has to do with quality of care and economics.

But those are not the only choices of which consumers are becoming aware.  Looming even larger on the health care front are choices over the actual type of care received.  Take for example, integrative medicine which is quickly receiving the attention of consumers, hospitals, and medical schools.

Integrative medicine is a whole-person approach to health, treating the person, not just the disease according to WebMD.com.  Another source, the Bravewell Collaborative Report 2010, puts it this way:    “A practical strategy, integrative medicine puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.”

Note that “physical” is just one of six components integrative health addresses with the patient.  The recognition of other influences on health seems an obvious conclusion, one more health professionals are increasingly willing to investigate and take advantage of.

Case in point, Larry Dossey, MD, Texas physician, author, and executive editor of Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing. His work has led to exponential growth in the exploration of the role of religious practice and prayer in health.

“For too long, spirituality has been viewed as a luxury or as an optional nicety where health is concerned,” writes Dossey.  “This view is outdated and archaic and is inconsistent with emerging data. A sense of the spiritual is often a matter of life and death.  No other perspective, in view of the evidence, can be considered scientific.”

As more research is conducted and studies released in the quest for better health, we are going to have to cogitate over a wealth of data in order to discern what constitutes valuable information. Consumers not only have a choice in their health pursuits, they have a responsibility.

One of my heroes, Paul of Bible fame, put it succinctly, “Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise.”


This column was originally published at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Health: New Year brings renewed concerns and fresh solutions

At the stroke of midnight New Year’s Day many will join in singing the traditional favorite, Auld Lang Syne (long, long, ago), the quirky but familiar tune which poses the question whether old times should be forgotten. 

There is something appealing about a fresh start.  No matter what has occurred the preceding day or over the past year, finding within ourselves the courage to begin again contributes to the promise of success.

That’s one reason for so many New Year resolutions.  New plan + new resolve = victory!

Experts have concluded that the formula does not live up to the hype and most resolutions don’t stand a chance.  In fact, some reports peg the failure rate of individuals achieving their New Year goals at 78%. Bummer!

Will you make any this year? Healthier living is on many peoples’ minds.  The list includes losing weight, eating better, exercising, and to stop smoking.  And it’s more than a wish list, it’s a necessity.

A new national study released by the United Health Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the Partnership for Prevention concludes that American’s are living longer, but sicker.

“As a nation, we’ve made extraordinary gains in longevity over the past decades, but as individuals we are regressing in our health,” according to Reed Tuckson, MD, medical adviser to United Health Foundation.

The report, the 2012 edition of America’s Health Rankings: A Call to Action for Individuals and Their Communities includes these stats:

*Over 27% of U.S. adults are obese

*Over 21% smoke

*Over 26% are physically inactive

The numbers are higher for some states like Ohio.  But no matter the ins and outs of each state, this report really begs the question: What is going on here? Americans, after all, spend as much or more on health care per capita than any nation in the world – even when one considers the vagaries of different types of health care systems and approaches to paying for it around the world.

Maybe a change in tactics is required.  Think revolution instead of resolution.

While concrete solutions to our country’s health care woes seem years away, there is a revolution going on right now that changes the whole methodology to health and healing. It’s a spiritual approach.

90% of U.S. medical schools now address the connection between spirituality and health to some extent through courses or content.  According to Crossroads…Newsletter of the Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health at Duke University, over 90% of responding deans report that patients emphasize spirituality in their coping and health care.

In another survey a majority of U.S. doctors think that spirituality plays a significant role in influencing a patient’s health.  Unlike 10 years ago, health conferences are increasingly including panels and experts in “integrative medicine” and they often include how to integrate spirituality into healthcare and clinical practice.

And with the use of prayer by individuals for health concerns increasing over the past decade, there is a growing body of evidence that a dynamic shift is underway in how patients and health professionals view the avenues toward health.

“Prayer use in response to health concerns has increased over time,” according to a report published by the American Psychological Association.  The research points to the use of prayer across multiple demographic and socioeconomic groups. It concludes that “it is critical to understand how this religious/spiritual behavior has changed and how this may affect patients’ mental and physical health as another step forward in improving the quality of care.”

Long, long, ago, a link between spirituality/prayer and health was recognized and practiced.  It is recorded in the Bible, especially in the New Testament where Jesus and others routinely demonstrated a revolutionary “new” approach to well-being to counteract the health concerns of the times.

And just like then, what’s exciting about today’s interest in this “new/old” mode to health is its availability to anyone, its 24/7 access, and its inconsequential costs.  Additionally, a spiritual approach to health benefits the whole person, mind and body.

“We’ll take a cup of kindness,” the old Scottish tune asserts. As we turn the calendar and start another year, it might be beneficial to reconsider attitudes about health and well-being. Here’s to New Year revolutions and fresh solutions to maintaining wellness. May your year be bursting with health and prosperity.


Thanksgiving adds to healthy living

Pass the gravy please and thank you!  A big part of Thanksgiving tradition involves family recipes and food…lots of food.  And while we all know the dangers of excessive eating, it turns out gratitude in big portions is good for us.

How good?  The effects of thankfulness on health are measurable according to researchers who have been studying the connection with great interest.  One example: Robert Emmons at the University of California-Davis and Michael McCullough from the University of Miami have deduced that people feel better physically and mentally when counting their blessings. Their study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

The two psychologists open their report with a Charles Dickens quote: “Reflect on your present blessings, on which every man has many, not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”  The researchers studied three groups each with a different assignment.  One group focused on things they were grateful for over a one week period.  Another group concentrated on daily irritations over the same period, while a third group dealt with things that had impacted their lives with no positive or negative emphasis.  It turned out that over a ten week span, those focusing on gratitude experienced fewer health complaints and felt better about their lives.

Read more …