|December 23, 2013||Carlos Santana – Music heals and charisma screams||no comments|
|December 16, 2013||Your health care provider desperately needs help||no comments|
|November 25, 2013||“Spirituality and depression are one journey” - Dr. Lisa Miller||no comments|
|November 13, 2013||Thoughts that harm your body need to be arrested||no comments|
|September 17, 2013||Do you have a healthy attitude?||no comments|
|August 19, 2013||You are not prepared for a health miracle||no comments|
|August 06, 2013||Is The God You’ve Created the Cause Of All Your Disease?||no comments|
|July 23, 2013||Help yourself live longer||no comments|
|July 15, 2013||Health & Fitness: Run, Swim, Pray, Dance||no comments|
|June 10, 2013||Health regardless of lifestyle, diet, and genes?||no comments|
Music is an integral part of our lives. It’s as if we yearn to be surrounded and inspired by rhythm and melody. One man who certainly knows how to help satisfy this yearning through his Afro-Latin-blues-rock fusion sound is Carlos Santana.
On Sunday, December 29, CBS will air the 2013 Kennedy Center Honors that were recorded last month. Santana is one of five honorees who will receive lifetime achievement accolades. The other accomplished recipients are: singer/songwriter Billy Joel, jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, actress Shirley MacLaine, and opera soprano Martina Arroyo.
The Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame’s website, states, “[Hall member] Guitarist Carlos Santana is one of rock’s true virtuosos and guiding lights.” His band has sold over 100 million records and earned 10 Grammy Awards, but, as well, Santana, himself, is a humanitarian and, maybe, most importantly, a spiritual thinker.
In a recent PBS NewsHour interview, Santana was asked, “You talk about spirituality. Is it your sense that music is a kind of spirituality?” Santana responded, “It's not kind. It’s 150 percent. Music was given to tame the beast, as they say in the Bible. You know, … fear and anger.”
The Bible describes how David, a shepherd and future king of Israel, had a real gift when it came to music. When King Saul was distressed, the king’s fear and anger were erased each time David performed on his harp.
Was it the music, by itself, that benefited Saul's mind and body or was there something else that animated David's healing melodies?
Yes, although David had a real gift when it came to music, his most significant talent, it might be considered, was his spiritual sense. David’s receptivity to the divine enabled him to perform soothing songs that healed.
Today, clinical studies reveal the same results David achieved. They show that music can be used as a therapy in treating depression, schizophrenia, autism, dementia, and substance abuse. Creating or listening to music can alleviate symptoms of mental illness and ease pain.
Santana also stated in his PBS interview, “Music is to glorify the light in you.”
Music doesn’t present a vague or general sense of harmony, but a specific divine expression, tangible to you, right now. The reason you react to a song’s beat and melody is because, first and foremost, you are spiritual. The beauty and energy expressed in music can remind you of the “light in you,” your radiant spiritual selfhood.
In the interview, Santana also stated, “I remember my dad playing violin.” Responding to the question of what he remembered about this, Santana replied, “It's a sound of screaming charisma.”
“Just the way he put his chin on the violin; just that alone, you are like, ah. And then when he would bow that note -- he taught me how to carry a melody.”
Long sustained guitar notes distinguish Santana’s World music sound. Such ability is as if the divine were giving us an extended taste of the harmony within us.
Instead of charisma being a selfish, personal sense that says, “Look at me!” it can be a divinely conferred and honed talent that, when individually expressed, blesses others.
Christian author and spiritual healer, Mary Baker Eddy, characterized the distinction appropriately, when she explained, “Music is divine. …and if the divine tone be lacking, the human tone has no melody for me. …Music is the harmony of being; but the music of Soul affords the only strains that thrill the chords of feeling and awaken the heart’s harpstrings.”
Will you watch this Sunday as Carlos Santana is honored? Certainly, his talent has blessed and will continue to bless many.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com
Recently, Kenneth Pargament, PhD, shared troubling facts about the lives of health care providers:
Dr. Pargament, a professor of psychology at Bowling Green State University, was one of the conference speakers. His talk was titled Conversations with Eeyore: Spirituality and the Generation of Hope among Mental Health Providers.
Pargament explained that health care providers can be traumatized by what they see in their client’s lives. But, even though they may be traumatized, the sacred dimension (spirituality) of a client can lift them up. Attending to the spiritual aspects of clients can actually jumpstart both the lives of the client and the care provider. Pargament also stated that spirituality fosters the sense that something runs beneath what we see.
In my own healing practice, I’ve noticed that the human capacity for change and growth stem directly from spirituality. Why? Because a spiritual sense of existence enables us to focus on and demand order, balance, strength, and health rather than the limitations and fears of a material-based outlook.
What would happen to health care in general if a majority of providers discovered that they were consistently connected with and empowered by something divine? Would this spiritual advantage prompt a reduction in trauma, depression, and suicide among physicians and society as a whole?
The Wall Street Journal recently reported, “Nearly 70% of community hospitals surveyed in 2011 provided chaplaincy services, up from 62% in 2003, according to the American Hospital Association.”
If spiritual care is being offered to patients because of its recognized benefits, why aren’t providers requesting and receiving some form of spiritual care? Perhaps, it is because, until recently, voicing the words spirituality and health in the same sentence was taboo.
In 1977, Dr. Pargament gave his maiden talk about the relationship of religion and mental health to a university’s psychology department. Afterwards, the distinguished chairman of the department whispered to him, “I’m Catholic.”
Pargament describes what happened next, “Being trained as a clinical psychologist, I knew what to say. So, I leaned toward him and whispered back, “Oh.”
Then Pargament softly asked, “Why are we whispering?” The chairman said, “Well, you know, psychology, being Catholic, they don’t exactly mix.”
The chairman’s response was a sign of the times. In the 70’s, if you were in psychology or medicine, people whispered about spirituality and religion. Now, Pargament believes, “I can talk in full voice, which is a real gift.”
Today, the power of spirituality to improve lives is more recognized than ever. However, mountain ranges of ignorance, prejudice, and misconception still remain.
While writing about a wholly spiritual, prayer-based method of healing, Robert Peel, an American historian, and writer on religious and ecumenical topics, caught the essence of the resistance that those in psychology and medicine also have felt when mentioning, researching, and utilizing spirituality and its benefits.
Peel has written, “A determined skeptic is not likely to be convinced by any particular healing attributed solely to prayer. He or she may dismiss it on hypothetical grounds of coincidence, a misdiagnosis, spontaneous remission, the placebo effect, careless reporting on the facts, and so on. But what has happened to the heart and mind and spirit of the individual healed, and what the practitioner on the case may have seen and understood and felt while praying – these are experiential data quite beyond the cynic’s comprehension or calibration.”
During his conference presentation, Pargament quoted authors P. S. O’Grady and K. A. Richards, “I feel there is a mystical quality to the therapeutic process. In that I am referring to a third force. There’s the client, the therapist, and something else present.” (O’Grady & Richards, 2010, p.61)
Is it possible that Jesus’ care for both mental and physical difficulties set a precedent for effective spiritual treatment? Inspired reasoning reveals that your spiritual selfhood is progressively demonstrable in your human experience. The beneficial influence that the divine has on the human condition could be referred to as the Christ, -- “the third force.” This force is God’s curative power that Jesus utilized to heal others.
Pargament mentioned during the conference that it is better for providers to view clients as human beings rather than as objects. And, if I may move the bar a bit further, I feel it is preferable for providers to view themselves and their clients as spiritual beings. This allows both provider and client the freedom to view one another as a part of something vitally real and most importantly, sacred.
Pargament concluded his talk by sharing the importance of possible sacred moments in the healing relationship between providers and clients, as well as the consequences of these moments. He explained:
The aim of a health care provider is to improve each client’s life as much as possible. I believe, because of this high goal, each provider can feel the strength and peace of “the third force.”
Therefore, if the occasion arises, it may be helpful for you to share these statements with your provider:
If you’re able to share with a full voice, instead of a whisper, you just might be helping your health care provider.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com
Adult depression is a significant problem, a problem that is being widely acknowledged. Adolescent depression is also being studied closely, as more and more children appear to show signs of despair.
Although parents may not be able to determine whether a child is merely going through a short-term behavioral phase or whether the child is experiencing depression, there is a consensus that children should be helped, and quickly.
The National Institute of Mental Health is educating the public. The Institute’s website explains, “The depressed child may pretend to be sick, refuse to go to school, cling to a parent, or worry that the parent may die. Older children may sulk, get into trouble at school, be negative, grouchy, and feel misunderstood.”
Beneficial studies show that, perhaps, a surprising correlation exists that can be helpful to those suffering.
On November 16, The Spirituality of Hope and Healing: Seeking the Sacred in the Midst of Despair was the theme for the 22nd Annual Psychotherapy and Faith Conference hosted by the Institute of Spirituality and Health at the Texas Medical Center in Houston.
One of the speakers, Lisa Miller, PhD, presented her talk Spirituality Protects Against Recurrence of Depression: Science at Multiple Levels of Analysis.
Dr. Miller is Professor and Director of Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College, where she founded and directs the Spirituality Mind Body Institute. She is also the Associate Editor of Psychology of Religion and Spirituality and Co-Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the new journal Spirituality in Clinical Practice.
During her presentation, Miller shared that a ten-year study on religiosity and major depression revealed that despair was often correlated with spiritual awakening. She mentioned that those on spiritual quests sound very similar to those suffering with depression.
“Suffering,” Miller said, “is a direct porthole to spiritual awakening. Spirituality and depression are essentially one journey. And those who experience spiritual awakenings are ninety percent less likely to suffer depression again.”
Dr. Miller spoke in Houston of the neuro-correlates of spirituality. She mentioned studies that showed how spirituality improved brain functions. She also shared that the brain patterns of study participants who had symptoms of depression showed similar activity between those given Prozac and those utilizing forms of spirituality.
Miller also explained that girls’ outward signs of puberty grew in sync with their becoming more aware of the sacred. Spirituality and depression co-emerged.
Miller then asked conference attendees how they could help adolescents with developmental depression. And she answered for them, “We must support their spiritual emergence. Their quest must be taken seriously.”
During the presentation, Dr. Miller explained that an adolescent’s spirituality emerges first with close relationships.
Miller explained the importance of adolescents having a spiritual guide, someone to help them through the coming of age process. The child turns to a guide to form a map, the meaning of life.
Whether the guide is a parent or not, the crucial element in this help is love. Miller shared, “The taste of love is more powerful than anything said. Encouragement, not measurement; love instead of judgment is needed.”
Again, Miller told attendees that an adolescent’s spirituality emerges first with a close relationship. These relationships may be formed with another person, with nature, or directly with their Deity.
I have always felt that children yearn for a close relationship with the divine. They do so because they are, first and foremost, spiritual beings. And the divine source of love reveals itself to each child in ways that the child can feel and understand.
Dr. Miller provided several case-study writings by adolescents.
19 year-old Lamar, wrote, “I love about my moms, no matter what, she always wanted to help me. Wow. She be bustin’ her butt, working night shift…come home, and she still take care of me, even though practically I’m a grown man. But I’m still with my moms, and still under her roof, respecting her, and abiding by her rules. But she always wanted to help me. Always. That’s great. Always.”
Perhaps, it could be said that Lamar’s spiritual experience and unity with the divine was expressed as the love and dedication of his mother’s selfless giving.
Another teenager wrote, “I get up at 5am to go surfing. Watch the sun rise. I feel of the water and stuff like the power of the waves. And knowing that you’re somewhat taming the waves when you’re like riding it and it wasn’t meant…I don’t know if it was…but like it wasn’t purposely…you riding the waves. And…you have to get in the flow of the wave and it’s like fluidity and rhythm and stuff like that, which is fun. It makes you like you’re a part of the wave. It’s a natural flow.”
Lamar’s relationship with the divine was through his mother. This teenager’s connection was through his appreciation of nature. His feeling of oneness through the power, rhythm, and flow of the waves, possibly, awakened within him a larger sense of existence than what mortality could present.
Dr. Miller’s presentation prompted me to ask myself, “Why do those on spiritual quests sound similar to those suffering with depression?”
Perhaps, pain causes the sufferer to try to burst from a mortal sense of things. It causes the depressed to stop identifying with human restrictions that lead only to further fear, unfulfilled desires, and more pain.
Those in despair and those on a quest are alike. Both struggle to shed limitations. Each is frustrated by an inability to experience what they innately, although, subconsciously, feel is their unconfined being.
There is a divine influence that speaks to the suffering, the abandoned, to heal and empower them. It is inside them, yet limitless in nature. For many, this capacity to have an effect on the development and behavior of mind and body is known as the Christ. However, it’s health benefits help every member of society, not just those who consider themselves to be Christian.
The spiritual naturally want to be spiritually healthy and free. And spirituality is the real essence of each one’s being.
– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com
The capture was made while<b> </b>I was, of all things, playing a board game at a friend’s house.
I was ten years old, and my friend was taking too long to make his next chess move. As I stared out the window, I saw my twin brother and another friend running between two houses towards the street.
The second they reached asphalt, police cars surrounded them. Both of them looked frightened as officers jumped out of their vehicles. My brother and his friend were handcuffed, placed in the cars, and driven away.
Stunned, I ran home, flung open the door, and yelled, “Kevin’s been arrested!”
Later, I learned that vandals had caused damage to a vacant house. Kevin and several other boys, foolishly, wandered into the house through a broken sliding glass door to examine the mess. Seeing activity at the house, a neighbor called the police, believing that the offenders were back.
The neighbor's call was perfectly understandable. He wanted the vandalism stopped. However, because of the call, my brother was mistakenly identified, temporarily, as a juvenile delinquent.
How does my brother’s experience relate to your health?
Have you ever been rightly or wrongly blamed and then felt miserable? Wasn’t the pain you experienced the result of your disturbed thought?
If you’re having trouble recognizing that your thoughts and physical health are correlated, consider a take away from a report by <a href="http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/how-stress-works1.htm" target="_blank">Dr. Betty Burrows</a>.
Burrows states, “Medical research suggests that up to 90 percent of all illness and disease is stress-related, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Since your mental condition can control your physical condition, it’s important to learn how to arrest harmful thoughts.
There are coping methods for managing stress and other harmful mental states that utilize the human mind’s reasoning powers. But when considering physical health, is it wise to employ the same human mind to heal that essentially caused the problem in the first place?
Perhaps, it would be advisable to bring aid to the human mind by allowing it to be influenced by the divine.
Most likely, we’ve all, at times, been falsely accused or identified ourselves in harmful ways – afraid, not good enough, unloved, a victim. Possibly, a first step in stopping harmful thoughts could be to discover what it means to be a spiritual being who is deeply worthy and appreciated.
Taking her cues from the Bible, especially the healing work of Jesus, author and Christian healer, <a href="http://www.marybakereddylibrary.org/mary-baker-eddy/life" target="_blank">Mary Baker Eddy</a>, wrote, “[Your] only course is to take antagonistic grounds against all that is opposed to the health, holiness, and harmony of man, God’s image.”
Without spiritual reasoning, life often appears stressful and cruel. But, many around the world are practicing the type of prayerful spiritual logic that allows them to gauge life in a more positive way. This helps them to experience greater peace, improved self-esteem, and consistent physical health.
If you’re struggling, it may be comforting to learn that the pain is not your fault. And although the pain is not your fault, it might be an opportunity. This may be your moment to mentally rise and express spiritual might.
“Stand porter at the door of thought,” Eddy encourages the readers of her book, <i>Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures</i>. “Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously. When the condition is present which you say induces disease, whether it be air, exercise, heredity, contagion, or accident, then perform your office as porter and shut out these unhealthy thoughts and fears.”
If you are falsely accused, instead of acquiescing at being captured and driven away, you can begin to take control. You can arrest wrong thoughts, the offenders, before they have a chance to manifest themselves.
Go ahead, arrest thoughts harming your body. Your ability to control thought may help you manage your health.
<em>– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: <a href="http://keithwommack.com/">KeithWommack.com</a></em>
Twitter: <a href="https://twitter.com/KeithWommack" target="_blank">@KeithWommack </a>
Why not consider utilizing spiritual practices the next time you face frightening challenges. Researchers are finding this exercise can yield beneficial rewards.
Mark Hyman, MD, in Calm Your Mind, Heal Your Body, writes “What is this critical factor that determines so much about how healthy or how sick you are? It is your attitude, your social life, your community, and your spiritual beliefs.”
Hyman also states, “…the most powerful pharmacy in the world … is right between your ears!”
Healthier lifestyles might be found, not only in what’s between your ears, but, most importantly, in what’s between you and your God.
Richard Schiffman, in a Huffington Post article, wrote, “Research at Dartmouth Medical School found that patients with strong religious beliefs who underwent elective heart surgery were three times more likely to recover than those who were less religious. A 2011 study of inner city youth with asthma by researchers at the University of Cincinnati indicates that those who practiced prayer and meditation experienced fewer and less severe symptoms than those who had not. Other studies show that prayer boosts the immune system and helps to lessen the severity and frequency of a wide range of illnesses.”
Schiffman also states, “A recent survey reported in the Journal of Gerontology of 4,000 senior citizens in Durham, NC, found that people who prayed or meditated coped better with illness and lived longer than those who did not.”
Does prayer always work?
I’ve never seen a single healer, whether a MD or spiritual health care provider, claim 100 percent success rates in their practices. But I do believe that as each patient and healer expresses more divine characteristics and prays frequently, better consistent care will be experienced.
And what are divine characteristics? Compassion, joy, humility, and forgiveness, to name a few, could be considered identifying features of a spiritual consciousness – a divine attitude. These characteristics don’t emanate from brains because they are not matter-based. They must start from God and be expressed.
So, what’s the next step? Practice and experience.
I had the privilege of meeting Richard Krummel, MDiv, PhD, several weeks ago. We discussed prayer and spiritual practices. Krummel gave me copy of his new book, Fear, Control, and Letting Go – How Psychological Principles and Spiritual Faith Can Help Us Recover From Our Fears.
I especially appreciate the last chapter of the book. There, Krummel shares 91 specific spiritual exercises. A few examples:
Saying Thank You. A wonderful priest I knew said that when he went to bed, he repeated "thank you," sometimes for up to five minutes, as a way to put himself more in touch with the spiritual. He would then, sometimes for another five minutes, repeat “help me” as a way to acknowledge that he was not in charge of the universe.
Ego Check. Each time you look at your watch, ask yourself if your ego is getting in the way. Do you have something you believe you need to protect that is bigger than your connection with God? Do you want people and things to be the way you want them?
Bible meditation. Pick a Bible verse and meditate on it. Sometimes all you need is to open the Bible and begin to read. A verse will seem to jump out at you. Meditate on that one. Ask yourself what the verse might mean for your life.
Active listening. God is calling you always. God is crazy about you, His creation. Practice active listening to God's messages and learn to say, as Samuel did in the Old Testament, “Here I am, Lord.” Listen; you are not alone.
Writing Yourself a Letter as if It Were From God. Write a letter to yourself, in the first person, that explains why God loves you. For example, "I love you because I created you. You are wonderful. I gave you many talents. I am always with you." Put the letter and envelope, address it to yourself, put a stamp on it, and mail it. Take a few quiet minutes to open it and read it when it arrives back at your house.
Yes, the next step in healthier lifestyles might be found, not only in what’s between your ears, but, most importantly, in what’s between you and your God.
Of course, self-centered, devilish thoughts are cruel and often quite disruptive. That’s why selfless motives and spiritual maturity are necessary when it comes to wellbeing. They root out self-absorbed fears that can cause ill-health.
Each small transformation of character allows more of the divine attitude to govern your mental and physical care. Prayer is so important in this regard. It primes the pump in your spiritual growth. It enables you to discover that everything about you starts with God.
A change of attitude can change everything for the better.
Michael Kirsch, MD, in Can prayer heal the sick? wrote about a woman who, after going through a surgery in 1985, was informed that she most likely had only 1 to 2 years to live. “The patient and her husband were devastated.” The husband “related the tragic news to his 3 children, ages 3, 5 and 8.”
While recovering from surgery, the woman’s 3-year-old daughter told her mother she wasn’t going to die because God had told her that her mother would live. “The patient related that she felt an unusual sensation that began at the top of her head and rippled slowly down her body until it reached the soles of her feet.”
The woman received no further treatments. And she is well today.
Dr. Kirsch then shared, “There are many medical cases that carve a course that I would not have predicted and do not understand. What forces may be at play there? I can’t say for sure, but I know many believe that prayer may be more powerful than our most potent prescriptions.”
The woman’s case brings up questions. One of which is: Since miracles happen, can you prepare yourself to experience them?
The term many doctors use for what the woman experienced is spontaneous remission. Interestingly though, Dr. Kelly Turner, a researcher and consultant in the field of Integrative Oncology, employs a new name for it.
In an interview with Eric Nelson, a Columnist and Christian Science healer, Dr. Turner stated, “The issue that I have with the word ‘spontaneous’ is that, by definition, it means ‘without a cause.’ Like it just happens out of the blue, unpredictably. To use the word ‘spontaneous’ really takes away from what I have found in my research, which is that many of these people worked very hard to get better. They didn't just sit there and twiddle their thumbs and poof, one day their cancer was gone.”
Nelson then explained, “Using the word ‘unexpected’ instead of ‘spontaneous’ was not much better, since most of the cases she was studying were anything but unexpected by the individuals involved. Turner has finally settled on [the new name] ‘radical remission.’”
Mary Baker Eddy, an early researcher in the intersection of health and spirituality, discovered and applied what she believed were rules regarding “radical remission” or what are termed miracles. Rather than coaxing the divine to change a body, she came to the conclusion that health is a divine/mental condition. There doesn’t need to be more divine action present than what already exists. Bodies improve when thought is more in line with Spirit and its health-giving activity.
So, can you prepare yourself? If yes, how?
Eddy discovered that you could ready yourself to be healed, and to be a healer, as well.
She shared six things that she felt could help. She wrote “A little more grace, a motive made pure, a few truths tenderly told, a heart softened, a character subdued, a life consecrated would restore the right action of the mental mechanism, and make manifest the movement of body and soul in accord with God.”
Most likely, you are not prepared for a miracle. I could be better prepared myself.
However, it appears that more and more people are now aware that the so-called miracle of spiritual healing is not only natural; it is reasonable. For example: a survey of American family physicians found that 99 percent of these physicians are convinced that spiritual beliefs can heal.
But what if we don’t have time to cultivate these six life-enriching practices? What if we need a miracle right now? Is hope lost?
Eddy became aware that there is always hope; that divine action, the healing Christ that Jesus demonstrated, is always ready to help, and especially available during an emergency. Just a second of prayer, of reaching out to God, can bring the whole power and tender care of the divine into thought and body.
My friend, Michelle, experienced this years ago when firemen were called because she wasn’t breathing and was comatose.
A doctor diagnosed an alcohol level of.5 in Michelle’s system, brain damage, and damaged, irreparable lungs. When we learned of her condition, Michelle’s family and I prayed.
A day later, the doctor released Michelle with his staff calling her “the miracle girl.” As she was walking out, the firemen who’d rushed her to the hospital were walking in. They’d returned to find out when she had passed away. They were overjoyed to see her alive.
Miracles happen. They do.
Since miracles happen, and if you’re not ready to receive them, perhaps you can prepare yourself. “Six things” might help.
The human race yearns for spirituality. It really does. But even more, there is a yearning to know how spirituality influences mental and physical health.
Today, there are health-practitioners as well as theologians who are actively seeking, discovering, and applying life principles that meet mankind’s yearning. Let me introduce Michele Longo O’Donnell. She is both.
In 1965 Michele became a registered nurse and devoted several years to pediatric intensive care, emergency room, and coronary care units. Currently, she is a healthcare provider, minister, and spiritual counselor.
I have known Michele for over twenty years, as we have shared ideas about spiritual healing. Recently, I asked her to answer some questions for this column.
Keith: What made you transition from registered nurse to an explorer in the consciousness-spirituality-health arena?
Michele: When I was 17 years old, suffering my way through my first day as a student nurse, I saw things that were horrifying to me. So much human suffering, so much fear and despair as one could stand to look upon. I had no idea that people were suffering like that!
While growing up, disease was never a focus of conversation in our home, although we had a few bouts with sickness now and then. But what really struck me was not only the misery and injustice of it all, but that no one seemed to challenge its right to exist! All the attention was directed to what humanly could be done to ease what appeared; as if everyone just accepted that this was a necessary part of the human existence.
I watched as doctors, nurses, patients and families marched on as in a trance under the influence of something so unnecessary, so devastating. And no one uttered a complaint. Where was the outrage?
This roaring in my soul just never let up as the years progressed. I found my way into Pediatric ICU and the obvious injustice of what I saw only intensified. I felt there was an answer, although I had no idea what it would be. Needless to say I never spoke of this to anyone. Who would believe such a thing?
In 1970 my second child was born with severe oxygen deprivation and resultant mental retardation. I left medicine to care for her and her 2-year-old sister. Someone gave me my first Bible and I began to devour it, especially the healing works of Jesus. I just knew I would find the answers to questions that plagued me in the context of this book. I had the advantage of knowing absolutely nothing about God before picking up that book, so the slate was clean and ripe for the Spirit to write whatever it desired to on my heart.
After two years, the result was that my daughter was completely healed and has continued to thrive as an intelligent adult ever since. She is the mother of two, a former assistant Attorney General of Texas, and has recently started her own law firm.
I thought: If this healing can happen to us, it can happen to anyone. And it should.
Keith: After your daughter’s healing, what did you do?
Michele: I pursued the understanding of the true nature and intention of God. I became involved with a non-denominational Bible school for three years and ultimately became an ordained minister. But I was disappointed in the schools spiritual teachings. I began to see the contrast between what I had learned "by the Spirit" through personal study those two plus years and quite differently, what traditional religion was teaching about the nature of God and the need for suffering to gain a heaven far away.
I fully intended to return to my medical nursing career after I completed my time at the school. But then I was inspired to make a radical shift from Western medicine to one of a more holistic approach. And in 1975 I opened a center which combines spiritual and emotional support along with the physical and metabolic support.
At the center, I felt directed to place those needing help on programs that would not only detoxify their bodies but that would also rebuild them with good nutrition and dietary supplements. But mostly we talked day and night about the goodness of God who is only Love and how they could trust themselves to that uninterrupted goodness. They could do this no matter who they were, what they had been "into" in their lives or what they had previously believed about God.
We have seen thousands of folks healed in the past 40 years. It has been a lifetime of joy and immense satisfaction. I still hold to the strong belief that the whole earth will see this, and the new heaven and new earth will appear for everyone to enjoy, without disease or the fear of it.
Keith: What have you learned about health during this time?
Michele: Through the years I’ve discovered what I suspected from the start; that healings come from a shift in “expectation” which is quite different from crossing ones fingers and “hoping” or “wanting.” This correction of thought comes from learning different principles of “Life.” The world lives out from an expectation of suffering and disease. We must learn to live from an expectation of strength and wholeness.
Over the last several years, I have recognized a pattern. Those embracing traditional thought and doctrines do not understand the true nature and purposes of God, as well as their own God-given power and ability, while the group considered more new thought do not know how to apply this understanding to daily living. The desire to bring the best of both worlds together and preserve the truths each have is what motivated me to write my fourth book Only Receive.
Keith: And the motive behind your other books?
Michele: I wanted to outline the life principles that I referred to earlier, so I wrote my first book Of Monkeys & Dragons: Freedom From The Tyranny of Disease. In it I share experiences with the hope that readers might understand the possibility of living without disease.
My second book, The God That We’ve Created, the Basic Cause of All Disease explains my belief that we’re never intended by our Creator to live with pain, misery and tears. Disease and suffering is a learned experience and therefore can be un-learned.
The third, When the Wolf is at the Door, The Simplicity of Healing, is a “how-to” book for anyone wanting to regain health and wholeness and live it on a constant basis. It emphasizes how to free yourself from dis-ease, whether that dis-ease is physical, emotional, relational, financial or other. It is an instruction manual for living in freedom.
Keith: When did you discover that your inspirations about health were somewhat similar to other Christ-based healers and writers?
Michele: In 1986 a patient and I were discussing spiritual ideas and she asked me if I had ever read anything by Mary Baker Eddy. I told her that I had not but would love to. She brought me a copy of The Christian Science Journal, which was established by Eddy. I was captivated by what I read. Its message was so familiar to me and yet so new. I discovered that there were others who spoke and believed as I did.
Soon a teacher of Christian Science and I began to visit every Wednesday for several years. These visits changed my whole life.
Again, there are health-practitioners as well as theologians who are actively seeking, discovering, and applying life principles that meet mankind’s yearning. Yes, as well there is Michele Longo O’Donnell. She is both.
And, as radical as it sounds, there are many who feel that health is under God’s capable care and that we can begin to challenge the right for disease to actually exist.
The wait is over. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and his wife, Kate, are the proud parents of a future King. As they try to take in the wonder of being a first-time royal father and mother, it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t already considering health, -- the longevity of their son.
While a wide variety of health modalities are available to William and Kate, as they are to you and your family, affirmation that health can be extended, regardless of age, is found in evidence that links thought to a life that approximates ageless living.
Many years ago, an article in The Lancet, one of the world’s leading general medical journals, described the experience of an English woman. The woman became insane and lost track of time after the man she loved abandoned her. Believing she still lived in the same hour of his departure, she never appeared to age.
After the article was published, Mary Baker Eddy, an American healer, author, and early researcher on health, thought, spirituality, and the powerful connection they have to each other, detailed the English woman’s experience.
Eddy wrote, “Having no consciousness of time, she literally grew no older. … When she was seventy-four … she had no care-lined face, no wrinkles nor gray hair. … Asked to guess her age, those unacquainted with her history conjectured that she must be under twenty.”
Eddy surmised: “The bodily results of her belief that she was young manifested the influence of such a belief. She could not age while believing herself young, for the mental state governed the physical. … The primary of that illustration makes it plain that decrepitude is not according to law.”
Now, many other voices in the discussion on health and aging are affirming that our thoughts and spirituality impact our longevity and overall daily physical and mental conditions.
Dr. Mimi Guarneri, author of The Heart Speaks: A Cardiologist Reveals the Secret Language of Healing, in an interview with Spirituality and Health was asked, “If you had to pick one alternative practice for this entire country, what would it be?”
Dr. Guarneri answered: “Meditation. Because I firmly believe when people have peace inside, when they go in and they feel connected to something larger than themselves. …They start to have healthier behaviors. I have really changed from looking at health from a physical outside-in to a spiritual inside-out.”
Gertie King, a long-time friend of mine, had confidence in a “spiritual inside-out” approach. It enabled her to remain healthy and active. She was 108 when I asked how she got to Texas. I thought she’d answer with, “Work relocation” or something regarding her family. However, she replied, “Covered wagon.” And she was serious.
I heard Gertie tell others that once when she suffered with a physical difficulty, she told herself, “That’s against the law!” She was immediately free of the difficulty.
Gertie was a Christian, a woman of great faith. She expressed dominion, and had a deep conviction that health was a spiritual phenomenon. She felt that there was a divine law behind it. To her, sickness was against the law. Therefore, she refused to act unlawful, and instead, took control of her thoughts and body through her maturing spiritual sense. She was convinced that spiritual authority could enable anyone to do so.
Perhaps, age could be thought of as the years when wisdom and dominion rule instead of a time when decline must occur. Queen Elizabeth II, is 87. She could tell her great-grandson something about longevity. Possibly, in a few years, William and Kate will encourage their young son to utilize spiritual power as he grows and matures.
Despite prevailing assumptions about life and age, my friend, Gertie, agreed with Mary Baker Eddy’s end analysis:
“Except for the error of measuring and limiting all that is good and beautiful, man would enjoy more than threescore years and ten and still maintain his vigor, freshness, and promise. Man, governed by [God], is always beautiful and grand. Each succeeding year unfolds wisdom, beauty, and holiness.”
As society pushes toward achieving consistent wellbeing, maybe, a more thoughtful and spiritual approach to life might just help people recognize their ability to exchange decline for dominion.
Long live the (future) King. But don’t forget to help yourself live longer too.
Apparently, there’s more to a workout -- dancing, running, and swimming -- than just moving muscles.
While it seems you’re exercising a body, you might actually be flexing spiritual power. Why? Because, first and foremost, you may be more of a spiritual being than you know. Possibly, this is why when running, swimming, or dancing, you can experience greater freedom and release from disappointment, sorrow, jealousy, self-will, and pain.
Leslie is a staff writer and self-appointed resident conditioning nag at the Dallas Morning News. She covers health and fitness.
Grace is a Certified Personal Trainer and regular blogger at Let's Get in Shape Together.
Janice is Professor Emerita at Texas Woman’s University and the author of In Balance: Fundamentals of Ballet and Jazz Dance: America’s Energy and Soul. She is a dancer and choreographer, and for 25 years was a graduate theory faculty member at TWU.
How long has fitness/dance been important to you?
Leslie: Oooh, for eons! I played intramural sports in high school; not terribly well, but there were no other team outlets for girls. After college, I started walking for exercise and have probably only gotten more neurotic, I mean dedicated, since then.
Grace: Fitness has been a part of my life for the past 20 years. I started doing aerobic exercise after my daughter was born in order to improve my overall fitness. That evolved into more serious running and as I started doing local road races my competitive juices (which I didn't even know I had!) kept me going.
Janice: I began my dance education in my mother's studio in Chicago. After a short professional career, marriage and parenting helped me to refocus to teaching. I performed until the age of 46, after which I have continued to choreograph and co-teach summer dance workshops for the Greater Denton Arts Council.
How often do you exercise? What types of exercises do you do?
Leslie: I exercise every day, reflecting my do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do philosophy. Taking a day off here and there is a very good thing to do, but I just feel lost if I don't exercise even a little. I've run every day for several years (2 to 10 miles). I've started swimming again, which I do about three times a week. I take a weekly yoga class, too. Plus I have a few strength-training workouts I follow.
Grace: I exercise about 4 times a week. I mix it up between running, yoga and weight training.
Janice: Today my dancing consists of giving myself a ballet or jazz class, dance and conditioning workouts, Pilates and easy yoga. Usually 3 -4 times a week for at least an hour.
How do you get yourself back into a routine when you fall off the wagon?
Leslie: Like I said, I'm kind of neurotic; I don't tend to skip workouts.
Grace: As a matter of fact, when I’m training for a road race, I have gone months without going into the gym or to a yoga class. When that happens, I know that my fitness level in these areas won't be what it was before I stopped, and so I scale it back and get back into the routine. Pretty soon I'm back where I was. Unfortunately I don't advance too far with this approach! But the point is I get back to it. I don't let the lapse keep me from starting back up.
Janice: When it's a month or so since I’ve danced or moved in a meaningful way, I feel a level of frustration and mind games that play with my sense of self. If I let go too long, say a month when other things seem to take over, depression and discouragement set in. It's then that mindfully and prayerfully, I have a good self-talk, after which I arrange a movement/dance appointment and get back into the swing of moving. During this private talk, I'm reminded about how dance brings an inner peace and fulfillment after which my spirit and body feel renewed. Dance, Pilates and yoga are totally different conversations with the world and with myself. The result of getting back to class is a rhythmic happiness, energy and alertness -- a bliss.
Does prayer or spirituality play a role in how you keep fit?
Leslie: Oh, sure. I pray for strength before I work out, and say thank you when I'm finished.
Grace: A large part of what I enjoy about yoga is the spiritual nature of the practice. The concentrating on the breath, and being present in the here and now, and the resulting inner peace. You can also find this solace when running.
Janice: Absolutely. I find that phrases from the Bible come to mind and energize my movements. For example: "In thine hand is the power and glory" turns into scooping and curving actions as I feel God's love wrapping and sustaining me. Statements from Mary Baker Eddy’s writings on health and spirituality also help me. She states, "God, divine Mind, governs all." When moving, I am in tune with God governing me metaphysically. When Eddy speaks about a rose, for example, I see it in my mind’s eye and smell its sweet fragrance. She writes, "The joy of its presence, its beauty and fragrance, should uplift thought." This inspires certain kinds of movement patterns and feelings. The result is that when dancing with body, mind and spirit connected, tension, daily issues, worries and so on wash away, replaced by a spiritual identity.
Do you believe your mental health affects your physical well-being?
Leslie: One hundred percent, yes. They play off each other, really. When I work out, I feel healthy; when I feel healthy, I feel emotionally ready to take on challenges. If you can achieve a goal in fitness, whether running a marathon or working out for 10 minutes every day, that has to seep out into the rest of your life's hurdles and challenges.
Working out regularly and steadily helped me deal with my father's death last summer. Without fitness, I truly think it would have been even harder than it is.
Grace: Absolutely. I am a strong believer in the power of the mind. If you tell yourself you can't do something (like a head stand, or run half a marathon), then you physically won't be able to do it. Conversely, if you believe you can, you will get there. Looking at it differently, I also believe that being physically active helps your mental health. There is nothing like a good walk, run, exercise class or workout session to boost my mental state of being.
Janice: Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. When I move creatively and richly and repeat movements or exercises as a kind of unifying ritual, I’m able to balance the human pressures and elevate thought. Afterwards, I feel great. My body feels full of energy and enthusiasm. Often I’m better able to deal with family issues, challenges and problems after focusing on the simplicity and discipline of moving correctly and completely. The joining of God's mind with one’s body and thought processes brings release and freedom.
Does spirituality help you mentally and physically?
Leslie: Of course. It helps me feel as if I'm not handling, nor do I have to handle, everything myself.
Grace: I believe that spirituality helps us mentally. When we get out of "our own heads" and realize that there is a vastness outside of us, then the little issues that we obsess over dissolve. When we let go, and stay in the moment, our minds are freed from the stress and worry that bogs us down and keeps us "small". As our mental health affects our physicality, then spirituality would affect us physically as well.
Janice: Moving is a prayerful moment in which I transcend my human physicality to feel my spiritual and perfect nature.
It seems that Leslie, Grace, and Janice understand that there’s more to a workout, more to life and health, than moving muscles. Broad spectrums of people now recognize that mind and body are under the amazing government of a divine presence.
And the qualities that constitute the best workouts just might be joy, enthusiasm, confidence, vigor, stability, and dedication. Don’t these define, from a divine standpoint, a Spirit, which you express?
Perhaps, because you are a divine expression, you run, swim, pray, and dance. And as a result, your mental and physical health is improved and maintained.
-- Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com
If you had lived in Roseto, Pennsylvania, between 1955 and 1965 most likely you’d be Italian. Roseto’s residents, during this time period, were mostly immigrants from Roseto Valfortore, Italy.
Not only were most of the residents in Roseto, Pennsylvania, Italians, they were consistently healthy.
During that same time period however, residents of the nearby town of Bangor didn’t have such a consistent picture of health. A mile separated them from predictable wellness – the Roseto Effect.
Because Roseto’s residents were so surprisingly healthy compared to the rest of the United States, researches, once they learned of the health differences, began to study every aspect of the residents’ lives to find the cause of their good fortune.
Joe Stampone, a relative of one of the founding fathers of Roseto, Pennsylvania, explains why early researchers were so intrigued: “Virtually no [resident] under 55 died of a heart attack; for men over 65, the death rate from heart attack was half that of the United States as a whole; and the death rate from all causes was 35% lower than it should have been. There was no suicide, no alcoholism, no drug addiction, and little crime to speak of. No one was on welfare and no one even suffered from peptic ulcers. These people died of old age. That’s it!”
So, what kept these Italians so healthy?
After intensive studies, researches concluded that the residents’ health wasn’t due to lifestyle, diet, or location.
In The Mystery of the Rosetan People Dr. Rock Pasitano details why the immigrants’ lifestyles and diets were not the key: “They smoked old-style Italian stogie cigars. Both sexes drank wine with seeming abandon. Rosetan men worked in such toxic environs as the nearby slate quarries …inhaling gases, dusts and other niceties. Rosetans fried their sausages and meatballs in lard. They ate salami, hard and soft cheeses all brimming with cholesterol.”
Researches then looked into their family gene pools for extraordinary health tendencies. They examined the lives of other immigrants from Roseto Valfortore, Italy, who were residing throughout the United States. These Italians living outside Roseto, Pennsylvania, were no healthier than the average American. “Genes” were scratched off the list of potential causes.
Next, researchers looked at the Roseto “water supply” and “quality of medical care” for the difference, but came up empty. Roseto’s water source was the same as the neighboring towns of Nazareth and Bangor. As well, all three communities shared the same hospital.
In the end, researchers concluded that the Roseto Effect had no medical or physical explanation. Dr. Pasitano stated: “Rosetans were nourished by people. In all ways, this happy result was exactly the opposite expectation of well-proven health laws.”
Joe Stampone (the great grandson) reasoned: “It was Roseto itself. The Rosetans visited each other on a daily basis stopping to chat or cooking for each other in the backyard. Extended family clans were the norm, with three generations commonly living under the same roof. They went to Mass and saw the calming and unifying effect of the church. There were 22 civic associations in a town of less than 2000 people.”
Sadly, Roseto’s oasis of healthy living faded. Extended family clans gave way to single family homes, and helping others gave way to self-absorbed living. As social ties weakened, so did the Roseto Effect. Soon, the physical health of the Rosetans mirrored the rest of Americans.
But, questions still remain.
If the Roseto Effect existed once, couldn’t it occur again? Can you experience health regardless of your lifestyle, diet, environment, or genes?
The Roseto story certainly pokes holes in the theories that hygiene, physical fitness, and diet regulation are what ultimately keep you healthy. A wise health expert is quoted as saying, “I tell you not to worry about your life. Don’t worry about having something to eat, drink, or wear. Isn’t life more than food or clothing?” – Jesus.
In the final analysis, was it love and heartfelt consideration from others and for others that made physiological difference in the Rosetans? Did people nourish people? Or was there something more? What drives people to care for others? What is the source of family and community spirit?
Families don’t create the love they lavish on others. They reflect it. Possibly, the Roseto Effect could be experienced if it was understood that each identity is where and how God’s nature is uniquely expressed.
Just maybe, when the cause of love and life is seen to be divine, the effect will be consistent health and happiness.