Why Spiritual Practices Benefit Your Physical Health
When you think about wellness and well being do you think about your entire being and not just your body or mind? Well, if you don’t, you should. We are, after all, body, mind and spirit. The path to happiness and health leads to all three functioning at capacity and in harmony.
People are living longer and our society tends to focus on physical health and appearances. We slather on anti-aging serums, sign up for the latest fitness class and load up on supplements, but keeping the mind and spirit healthy is just as important. Why? Well if one of these is not functioning at full capacity, then the others will suffer.
As I’ve mentioned before, to heal your problems, you must heal the stress in your life. And to heal the stress in your life, you have to heal your memories. The key to channeling this healing energy lies within us. This healing energy is love.
Love keeps our body, mind and spirit in check. The prime example is a tiny gland within our brain called the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is programmed to the love signal, just like your radio is programmed to country, pop, talk, news or weather. If the hypothalamus receives the love signal, it turns stress off. If it does not receive the love signal, it turns stress on. In other words, if you are living right spiritually and reducing stress by prayer, meditation or whatever spiritual practice you believe in, your hypothalamus won’t be in fight or flight mode and your body won’t be allocating energy toward putting out fear-driven fires.
That’s why you see spiritual leaders like Mother Theresa or Gandhi or even someone you admire in your community or church in circumstances where you wouldn’t be happy and they seem happy and we think, “I want whatever they are drinking.” They just seem to glow from within. Their spiritual life is optimized and their hypothalamus is creating health for their body and positive thoughts for the mind.
Meditation and prayer are the oldest spiritual practices in the world. Nine out of 10 Americans have relied on healing prayer at some point and 18 million Americans meditate on a regular basis, according to the National Institute of Health's National National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Even the U.S. government recommends meditation for reducing stress. These days more and more people are realizing the benefits of keeping their spiritual wellness and scientific research backs this up.
A study published in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes in 2012 tested the health benefits of meditation. For the study, 201 people with coronary heart disease were asked to either (a) take a health education class promoting better diet and exercise or (b) take a class on transcendental meditation. Researchers followed up with participants for the next five years and found that those who took the meditation class had a 48% reduction in their overall risk of heart attack, stroke and death.
People who meditate regularly enjoy lower stress levels, increased well being and even lower blood pressure and resting heart rate levels. In other words, getting the spiritual aspect of your life right benefits your mind and body.
What are you doing to make your spiritual wellness a priority? In this month devoted to love, don’t forget to devote some time to self care. Your mind, body and spirit will thank you.
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