Happy Easter: Belief about ‘life after death’ could impact health

AP Photo: Washington Times

How was your Easter? Did it get you thinking about your life? I’ve chosen my guest post today for the light it shines on the many beliefs about life and death surrounding the Easter story. Spokesperson for Christian Science in Northern California, Eric Nelson, is quoted in the full article on the Washington Times. Thanks, Eric!

Colored eggs and chocolate bunnies aside, could it be that Easter holds the secret to better health?

First – for those who may be unfamiliar with the origins of this holiday, Easter is Christianity’s commemoration of the resurrection of Jesus three days after his crucifixion, although much of its symbolism is borrowed from the Jewish Passover, a much older tradition celebrated around the same time of year. (For details on the origins of the Easter Bunny, you’ll have to read someone else’s column).

Depending on your perspective, Easter can mean any number of things. For some it’s nothing more than an entertaining folk tale. For others it’s the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy, meant to inspire a deeper devotion to God. For others it’s a beacon of hope that there really is such a thing as life after death – maybe even life instead of death.

What does this have to do with health?Continue Reading

Who knew that Easter relates to Springborg’s health portfolio?

Easter is one of the very special dates on the Christian calendar, because Jesus’ healing lifework, culminating in his resurrection from the dead, changed our understanding of both ourselves and the divine. To me, Jesus’ life is evidence of a practical, effective and loving God, and of how we too can experience the divine, here and now.

The very essence of the life he outlined and we know as Christianity is love; love for God, love for ourselves and love for each other. The fact that love heals has major implications today in our community.

In his research topic white paper, Public health and medicine program area, Dr Jeff Levin writes, “Popular writing by physicians and other providers bear witness to a growing belief in love as a salient ally in the clinical setting. The experience of feeling love, for oneself and from others, has been described as a powerful resource for both healing of illness and psychological growth and self-actualization. A loving and empathic relationship between practitioner and patient has been described as a key element in a successful course of medical treatment.”

Seems like the message from Jesus has health implications, as well as religious!

As Lawrence Springborg takes on the health portfolio in the new Queensland government he may not be thinking of the connection between the Easter message and health. Along with the enquiries he’ll be making, he more than likely will be contemplating ‘big picture’ questions, like “how can I ensure Queenslanders are offered the best health care alternatives available?” and “how will I repair the technical systems, improve the processes and mend staff morale in Queensland Health?” A big ask, I agree, and one for which we all need to lend our support, knowing as research tells us that politicians are more likely to do everything in their power to make good on their election promises than not.

Big picture thinking, lateral thinking, and thinking out of the box is required of our leaders, and I’m sure Springborg will step up to the plate. He’ll hear quite a bit about allopathic medicine and its associated systems, but will be sure to realise that it is not the only healing method available or in demand.

In the spirit of a grateful constituent, I’ve been considering what I would say if we came face to face. “Minister, congratulations on your appointment, and ……. (I might start with a couple of humorous references) …

  • Considering your enormous task, you’ll probably be happy to hear about the 2012 DIY health trend;
  • You might be just as excited about results from research into the placebo effect. Could this be evident in the current confidence in the seemingly endless preventative and curative qualities of aspirin?
  • But seriously, do you know much about holistic care, the importance of looking at the whole individual and including their physical, emotional, social and spiritual status? In the Queensland community, there is phenomenal public interest in complementary and alternative medicine, including massage, yoga, acupuncture, herbal medicine – and prayer, with around 70% of Australians using alternative therapies, and with 40% of medical professionals included;
  • Did you know that the World Health Organisation’s 2005 paper states that “health needs to be understood as an inclusive concept …. encompassing spiritual wellbeing?” (The Bangkok Charter for Health Promotion in a Globalized World, Geneva);
  • High on your agenda will be mental health. Did you know that the scientific literature on religion and health outcomes shows a positive correlation between a measure of religiousness/spirituality and health in a wide range of psychiatric and medical conditions? (Handbook of Religion and Health, Koenig, King and Carson, 2012);
  • Did you know that in Australia, there is general acceptance in the medical community of the important role of spirituality in palliative care, as well as its positive effect on mental health? The University of Queensland has developed a course for undergraduate nurses on the subject of Spiritual Care in Palliative Care (developed by researchers Murray, Hutch, Wilson, Mitchell and Meredith);
  • Ageing will be high on your agenda, Lawrence. You may not know that “There are different views of ageing in our society. One view sees ageing as a period of physical decline that includes illness and disability ….. a second view is of ‘successful ageing’”. A research report by Elizabeth B MacKinlay and Corinne Trevitt published in The Medical Journal of Australia proposes a third or alternative view – seeing ageing as a ‘spiritual journey’. They conclude that “although we live in a largely secular society, spiritual care should not be seen as an ‘optional extra’ for older people”;
  • Did you know that our genes are not as unchangeable as we thought? Genes can change – once, or even many times – within a single lifetime! A study conducted at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital found that things like meditation, tai chi, yoga, exercise, and prayer can alter a person’s gene activity, especially as it relates to stress. Considering that more than 60% of visits to doctors are for stress-related complaints, this is pretty significant stuff;
  • You may not have realised that there is a good deal of  public interest in results from research into the effect of spirituality on health, as evidenced in these recent media articles: Does religious faith make people healthier and happier?(28/12/11); Beyond spirituality: the role of meditation in mental health (19/1/12); and Chronically ill benefit from religion (27/10/11);
  • There’s so much good news about spirituality. I’d just love you to know how much our frame of mind impacts our health. Some hospitals and nursing homes are starting to realise the benefits to patients and are now keen to include ground-breaking humour therapy as part of their services.  (Quest News, 13/3/12, New Farm aged care facility in Queensland-first trial of humour therapy);
  • I think that best-selling author Bernie Siegel MD, speaking from years of experience as a physician and who has cared for and counselled innumerable people whose mortality has been threatened by illness, summed up the message that I hope you will take away from these facts, Lawrence, “The simple truth is that happy people generally don’t get sick”.

Seems that spirituality has much to offer the healing arts, and will assuredly bring improvements in health outcomes, as it is already doing in the fields of mental health, ageing and palliative care in Australia. I can certainly vouch for spiritual care, as I have relied on Christian Science for my health care needs for nearly 30 years.

Who knows what public healthcare will look like in the future, but we can be sure that it will take into consideration more fully the mental nature of health and include a recognition of the profound healing benefits of spirituality, Minister!

Spirituality: The new frontier in health research

Andrew Roly and Steve Davis are involved with humor therapy at Tree Tops aged care, New Farm. Picture: Chris Mccormack Source: Quest Newspapers

This post first appeared on ON LINE Opinion, Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate.

Humour therapy. Thigh-slapping, belly laughs and doubled-up in mirth with tears streaming down your cheeks type humour. Sounds a hoot – something I could do with on a Friday evening after a long working week.

We know that humour lightens the mood, whether we’re participating in school or a lecture, at church or a funeral – even in political debates! Clinical research is showing that humour is more than good fun, but actually affects our health in very good ways. Research shows that laughter stimulates the immune system, relieves pain, reduces the heart rate, benefits the respiratory system, relaxes the muscles, reduces stress, and helps promote a positive outlook and feeling of well-being. Humour that is based on caring and empathy also creates bonds between people, nourishes us spiritually, and heals. (www.clowndoctors.org.au)

Some hospitals and nursing homes are starting to realise the benefits to patients and are now keen to include ground-breaking humour therapy as part of their services. Continue Reading

How was your check-up?

My guest blogger today is Linda Ross, Christian Science Media Spokesperson for the state of Connecticut in the USA. She writes for creedible.coman interfaith religious website, where many faiths have a voice, including Christianity, Islam and Buddhism.

Many have check-ups for a variety of things – their health, car, air-conditioner, etc. What about our spiritual condition, our peace of mind?  I have found it helpful to regularly review a check-up or check-list called the Beatitudes.  Jesus begins his Sermon on the Mount with these. The Sermon on the Mount, a treat to read in its entirety, was his only published sermon.

I’ve often thought of the Beatitudes as “the attitudes to be”.  Looked at collectively or individually, in one Bible translation or several, these passages can be a bridge to a better life.  Consider the first one Jesus listed, here in the traditional King James (KJ) translation, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  The Message (MSG), a contemporary translation, has the same passage as, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God and his rule.”  Isn’t that a nice dose of humility?Continue Reading

9/11 brought courage & sorrow; Cross & Crown bring healing

Has Christian Science something to add to the ongoing discussion about the impact of 9/11? I believe so, and so does my colleague Keith Wommack from Texas. He shares his thoughts below.

It’s a simple symbol made of four quick touches of the keyboard. Yet, what this simple symbol represents still weighs heavy on sad hearts and minds. To some it means courage. To others, vulnerability, fear, uncertainty, and sorrow. Yet, there is another symbol. A symbol, I’ve found, that can help. It can help heal the pain and anguish caused by the misguided actions of others.

The Cross and Crown, I’ve learned, is a symbol of meekness and might. These qualities combined heal long lasting wounds.

The cross symbolizes sacrifice, selfless acts, tender and powerful love. Ten years ago, first responders at the World Trade Center expressed these qualities. These qualities lived enable us to utilize innate spiritual power. The crown symbolizes this power and dominion. People around the world are discovering their God-given authority and their power to mentally rule out evil, thereby banishing anguish, hate, and fear.Continue Reading

Spirituality can Transform our Health and our World

Fear of flying foxes, fear of diseases, fear of Christians, fear of Muslims and what they wear, fear of religion, fear of failure, fear of a political party, fear of poverty, fear of change, fear of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, fear of public speaking and even fear of water (reported on ABC Radio’s Background Briefing on 24/7/11). Can we ever be free of fear?

The horrendous shootings in Norway last week and the tragic mismanagement of the drought, famine and conflict in Eastern Africa are events engendered by fear, which over time evolved into hate. It would seem overly simplistic to say that there is a solution to preventing these horrors, but there IS – and that solution is LOVE.

Understanding the inspired word of the Bible is central to the practice of Christian Science. And the Bible states unequivocally, “There is no room in love for fear” (1 John 4:18, The Message). What type of love is the Bible referring to?Continue Reading

Key to Your Life and Health

There really is a key to health! Check out what my colleague in Texas USA, Keith Wommack, has learned about it.

After working in a Christian healing ministry for the past twenty-eight years, I have learned a few important things.  Here’s one:

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honor, when thou dost embrace her.  (Proverbs 4:7,8)

Get understanding. Without it, you will make no difference in the world. Learn to see things from a spiritual point of view. This perspective is a life-preserver, the key to your life and health.

  • Honesty is spiritual power.
  • Health is a state of Mind (not human, but divine).Continue Reading

What does it mean when a medical practitioner wants to offer a dose of prayer?

Is there a need for more holistic healing? Around the world this question is often in the headlines, in one form or another. My colleague in the United Kingdom, Tony Lobl, asks some important questions and shares his thoughts in a repost of his blog, as follows. Thanks Tony.

Source: Photostogo

There have been angry-with-the-doctor opinion pieces versus angry-with-the-medical-authorities reports about the recent conflab between the General Medical Council (GMC) and General Practitioner Dr. Richard Scott, who talked about Jesus to a patient. However, it is worth asking, but what does it actually entail to have a physician-patient conversation about faith?Continue Reading

Bin Laden: What do I think? How do I pray?

Now here are some questions to ask ourselves about recent events! Many thanks for this re-post by my colleague in Texas USA, Keith Wommack.

“Bin Laden is dead.”

How am I to think about a person who allows himself to be so confused and so filled with hate that he masterminds terroristic activities?

Now that this man has been killed, what do I think? How do I pray?

Do I understand the need for a man to be stopped from harming others? While this is taking place, do I understand the need to continue to pray to see more of everyone’s spiritual nature?

Continue Reading

What is important at Easter?

I was pleased to see Graham Harding’s blog post today, because it gets to the point of why Easter is important to me, too. Graham is the Media Spokesperson for Christian Science in Tasmania and he’s agreed to my reposting it on this blog. Thanks Graham!

Easter Lilies

The Easter season gives me the opportunity to think more deeply about its meaning and what I hold in thought as important.  For me, without downplaying the crucifixion, the most important aspect of the Easter story is the resurrection. 

We can become so preoccupied with the cruel nature and illegality of Jesus trial and death that we forget that the purpose of the story is to reveal his overcoming of death. He revealed to us his ability to defy the most basic of physical laws by walking on the water, feeding thousands, healing many instantaneously and raising the dead and even himself.Continue Reading