According to Harold Koenig, MD a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, “Prayer not only relieves and anxiety and helps people feel at peace, it can have a measurable impact on a person’s physical health.” He also states that patients who pray acquire an indirect form of control over their illness. Here are the main benefits of meditation and prayer to the body:
- It reduces diastolic blood pressure by as much as four points, lowering the risk of heart disease by 10 to 20 percent.
- Protect against chronic stress which in turn cuts a person’s risk of a stress-weakened immune system by half.
- Lower the risk of severe depression by 81 percent.
- Cut the risk of dying in the next three decades—from any cause—by one third.
To reduce your stress, heal illness, and strengthen immunity, try these three simple actions that weave spirituality into your life.
Dr. Benson, author of Timeless Healing: The Power of Biology and Belief suggests this method. Once daily, find a quiet place and sit with your eyes closed. Take a deep breath and as you exhale, focus your mind on a word or phrase that reflects your beliefs such as a favorite verse or promise from the Bible or, if you are not religious, try a word such as “love” or “peace.” For approximately 15 minutes, repeat your phrase or word silently every time you exhale.
Although this method seems almost too simple to work, studies reveal that meditative prayer is two to four times more effective for physical healing than praying for a specific outcome.
Inspire yourself .
Read something inspirational daily for 15 minutes. Choose whatever motivates, encourages or comforts you. There are many inspiring bestsellers around. If you have no idea where to start, you may peruse the writings of Martin Luther King, C.S. Lewis, Maya Angelou, Mother Theresa, or if you want something more modern, try Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life, or the Daily Bread. Personally the Bible is still my favorite. It is filled with God’s promises.
Surround yourself with encouraging people.
Regularly attend support groups, such as prayer meetings, meditation, scripture study group or weekly worship. Candace Pert, Ph.D., author of Molecules and Emotion: Why You Feel the Way You Feel says, “Being surrounded by people who are mediating or praying actually intensifies biochemical brain changes that occur during prayer….It’s like one violin resonating when another violin plays a note—it’s physics.”