Spiritual means Healthier, Researcher Says
I have experienced the power of prayer uncountable times in my life, a new perspective of it was uncovered before my eyes the moment one of my doctors recomendend to pray 20 minutes everyday for healing reasons, to produce endorphins that will help balance my cortisol production and inmune system.
“A number of studies have shown a positive relationship between participatory prayer and lower rates of heart disease, cirrhosis, emphysema and stroke in adults,” he says. “Prayer has been shown to correlate to lower blood pressure, cortisol levels, rates of depression, as well as increased rates of self-described well being.”
“But very few studies have attempted to examine how children’s spiritual beliefs impact their health,” he says. Initially, Nierenberg conducted a study of HIV positive pediatric patients (ages seven to 17), comparing religious development, church attendance and prayer to health measures such as symptoms, T-cell counts and number of hospitalizations.
Just like running causes the brain to release chemicals that act as analgesics, so does prayer.
Sitting in synagogue on a Shabbat morning earlier this month, it hit me. Praying, at least for me, is a lot like running.
At first, I feel a bit stiff. I hear the words without really hearing, say them without really saying. At times I'll recite an entire prayer without stopping to consider what, exactly, is coming out of my mouth.
Then at some point, a line will jump out at me. An incantation will comfort me. Sometimes I'll have just a few moments of illumination, sometimes many. I'll often leave a service feeling renewed and unencumbered, confident that life is unfolding just the way it should.
In her "Torah Thoughts" column earlier this month, Rabbi Amy Eilberg wrote, "I don't understand how prayer works, though I know that it does."
I agree, though such mysteries are challenging for an overly analytical sort like me. I like to know exactly why I feel what I feel and why I do what I do.
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mussoorie,distt dehradun, Uttarakhand, India