Posts tagged ‘emotions’
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
“We engage in emotional contagion,” says Sigal Barsade, a Wharton management professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who studies the influence of emotions on the workplace. “Emotions travel from person to person like a virus,” she says.
Many of us have experienced this in one way or another. But its affect on health, especially of our elder populations, is now being documented.
Barsade is the co-author of a new paper titled, “Why Does Affect Matter in Organizations?” Barsade’s research has taken her into a variety of workplaces, most recently long-term care facilities. She found that…
“…in facilities where the employees report having a positive workplace culture — she calls it a “culture of love” — the residents end up faring better than residents in facilities with a less compassionate and caring work culture. The residents reported experiencing less pain, made fewer trips to the emergency room, and were more likely to report being satisfied and in a positive mood.”
In other research, Michael Sadler and his colleagues studied older twins and found that happiness and well-being are associated with increased longevity, independent of familial factors like genetics and shared environment.
And, Anthony Ong, Assistant Professor of Human Development at Cornell University, strengthens the extant empirical work on positive emotions “The results across three independent samples are remarkably consistent: Positive emotions have demonstrably beneficial effects…[and] are an important feature of psychological resilience and physical health in later life.”
This is supported by the work of Fredrickson & Levenson. Their findings “provide the basis for underscoring the importance of building positive emotional experiences into the ecology of older adults’ everyday lives.”
This leads to the question, “How can one gain and maintain the positive outlook that is dependably beneficial to health?”
One practice that helps me stay grounded and avoid negativity is daily prayer. According to Victoria Abreo scientific research proves that prayer and mindfulness are important practices that lead to better health. This has been true in my own experience.
I have found, like many others, that the human mind or ego, alone, is rarely capable of sustaining a positive outlook. But there are mental skills that one gains through regular communion with a higher Being or in mindfulness practice. I’m learning that my ability to see good in myself and others comes from my relationship to this Higher Being, not merely an exercise in positive thinking.
This relationship is grounded in the Bible passage: “God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31)
This empowers me to reject negativity.
108 year old Alice Herz Sommer illustrates these findings in her remarkable life experience. Having survived Nazi concentration camps, and a bout with cancer at age 83, she still lives alone in a London flat and practices her piano for three hours daily. She finds something to laugh about each day and looks at everything as a gift. When asked the secret of her longevity, Alice says, “I know about the bad, but I look at the good…”
John Clague is a retired sheriff’s office captain, father of two grown sons, and husband. He now works with the media to ensure accurate representation of Christian Science.
By John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
This month Baylor University published the results of their religion survey taken in 2009, “The Values and Beliefs of The American Public”. Two previous surveys were taken in 2005 and 2007. Most of the findings of the survey were interesting. Two in particular, however, resonate with me and my relationship with God.
They report that those who have a “warm relationship with God” report the fewest “mental health issues”. These are self reports, so it’s impossible to concisely determine what a mental health issue is. For me it doesn’t matter. The point is that I’m happy and feel that my life is enriched because I have a very personal and warm relationship with God. God expresses Himself through His creation. God is love, and I am an expression of God. Thus, Love is part of my being. I can’t think of a more intimate relationship than being an expression of my creator which is Love.
The other noteworthy point of the survey is that those who believe in an “engaged God” report far less anxiety in the areas of generalized anxiety, social anxiety, paranoia, obsession, and compulsion. God is very engaged in my life and I don’t experience anxiety, just like many of the participants in the survey.
This data begs the question “how is God engaged in my life”? As God’s expression, every moment of my day is a prayer or mental communion with my maker. I hold in thought the perfection that I know to be God and identify my highest qualities as an expression of that perfection. This requires a great deal of effort on my part, to keep my thought focused on the Love that is God, and to put this into practice every day, but the benefits are clearly described in the survey.
There are other benefits I derive from my relationship with God not described in the survey, which is really an experience in consciousness that plays itself out in my human life. My relationship with God directly affects the health of my body.
Dr. Herbert Benson, MD, a renowned researcher and writer on the effects of consciousness on the body, has written several books on this subject (1). His research adds to a growing list of physical conditions which can be improved or healed through the use of mental techniques. The value of Benson’s research is not that he has found the ultimate consciousness-based solution to our physical and mental problems, but rather it provides further evidence that consciousness is an indisputable factor in one’s mental and physical health. Beyond the mind-body relationship, spirituality embraced in consciousness is the next level of establishing and maintaining our well-being.
A hundred years ago, Mary Baker Eddy explored this new/old understanding of the power of Spirit to heal the body, at the same time Freud was delving into the human psyche and Einstein into the nature of matter. As she described it, she was looking into the unsearchable realm of the divine Mind, while Freud plumbed the depths of the human mind, and Einstein the very nature of energy, mass, and time.Today’s researchers build on the work of all three of these pioneers, but for me, the greatest of these is the one that links well being to divine Love.
(1) This is not an exhaustive list:
* Timeless Healing, 1997, Simon & Schuster
* The Relaxation Response, 2000, Harper Paperbacks (with Miriam Z. Klipper)
* Relaxation Revolution, 2010, Scribner (with William Proctor, JD)
* Beyond the Relaxation Response, 1985, Berkley (with William Proctor)
* The mind/body effect: How behavioral medicine can show you the way to better health by Herbert Benson, 1979, Simon and Schuster
by John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
Health anxiety. Boy, that’s a big issue. It’s a condition I’ve seen in many people over the years. Parents worrying about each symptom experienced by their child. Adults obsessed with every the latest malady reported in the news.
Have you ever paid attention to the conversations around you at work? A day doesn’t go by without someone talking about his latest health issue, what his doctor says about it, her concerns about it spreading or getting worse, and so on. They talk about what pills they’re taking, how many, what color, how expensive.
The technology explosion, though presumed to be a benefit to mankind, may actually be a curse for the common citizen fearful about her health. On the internet you can find every conceivable disease or body malfunction known to man. You can find all the symptoms that go along with these conditions, and possible remedies. You can find out what medication you should be taking or what surgeries can solve the problem. This information only adds to the fear one may be harboring about their health. It’s conveniently called cyberchondria.
Wendy Glauser brings out an important point in her article “Health Anxiety” in the spring edition of Canadian Health. “At least 5% of the Canadian population is estimated to suffer from severe health anxiety, with a greater percentage of milder cases. Health anxiety can be triggered when …Internet websites match perceived symptoms to scary disorders or when physical symptoms persist that doctors can’t explain.”
And I’m certain that a much larger percentage of the population actually experiences sickness due to disease descriptions in the media and Internet. The idea is suggested to the mind and then the condition manifests itself in the body.
Dr. Herbert Benson, a renowned physician and researcher on the mind-body connection, has coined this phenomenon the “nocebo effect”. A more common term is psychosomatic disorder, i.e., symptoms of a disorder caused by one’s thought. His research for over 30 years has clinically proven that one’s thinking can have a healing or negative effect on one’s health.
Benson, Glauser, and those Glauser interviews for her article, report on a physiological basis for understanding and addressing these conditions. This approach will always have the limitation of the human body and brain. It relies on altering the neurological functions of the brain through thought, or through relaxation techniques, counseling, and in some cases, medications.
Interventions that heal the body through altering brain functions are limited by the body’s limitations. There’s no way around it.
As a practicing Christian Scientist I’ve found that healing goes beyond the brain and body, and comes through an understanding of spiritual nature. This understanding releases me from anxiety and any concern about my body. Rather than search the internet for a name or symptoms, I revel in the freedom that comes with focusing my thought on God as my creator, and the wholeness and harmony of His creation.
The press unwittingly sends forth many sorrows and diseases among the human family. It does this by giving names to diseases and by printing long descriptions which mirror images of disease distinctly in thought. A new name for an ailment affects people like a Parisian name for a novel garment. Every one hastens to get it. A minutely described disease costs many a man his earthly days of comfort. What a price for human knowledge! [pp. 196-7]
And she goes on to say:
The physical affirmation of disease should always be met with the mental negation…If you believe in inflamed and weak nerves, you are liable to an attack from that source… If you decide that climate or atmosphere is unhealthy, it will be so to you. Your decisions will master you, whichever direction they take. [p. 392 ]
It’s liberating to know that we don’t have to be fearful about our health, and that peace of mind comes from a decision to recognize the natural healthiness of all that God made, including me and you. We can learn to meet health anxiety at the door of thought, before it gets its mental foot in the door, with a “no admittance”. God cares for His creation and keeps it well. That’s real freedom.
So just how does “sin” affect our health? And just what is sin? My colleague and friend, Keith Wommack, from the great state of Texas, has an interesting discussion on this topic. John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon.
By Keith Wommack, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Texas
If I wanted to shoot hoops today, but the only sneakers I could find were a pair of size 8½ red high-tops, I’d be frustrated. I wear 9½, and that garish crimson just won’t do. However, if I went ahead and wore them for a game, how do you think my feet would feel afterward? Likely, I would pay a price the following day.
In the above example, we could call the impulsiveness and impatience a sin; and it illustrates the way in which sin impacts health by causing physical and emotional suffering. Anger, hate, envy, dishonesty, and all selfishness have unpleasant consequences. And sin causes more than blisters on toes. The entire body is affected by thought. For example, many are studying the role stress and emotions have on cardiovascular disease. (See WebMD article) How we feel is connected and subject to how we think.
Both sins and mistakes cause trouble. But the two are dissimilar: A mistake is an unintentional action caused by ignorance, whereas sin is more than a mistake. It is a conscious course of wrongdoing.
Mistakes can be corrected by knowledge. However, sin is erased by a recognition that our actions were wrong, coupled with a refusal to ever again think and act unloving and self-destructive. Didn’t Jesus heal by exposing and destroying sin?
Every selfish, sinful thought is self-destructive. It leaves Spirit, God, out of the picture. This is inevitably bad for health, for without Spirit health becomes vulnerable. Why? Because there is an indissoluble connection between Spirit and health. The more I deny Spirit by my thoughts and actions, the more I deny this valuable connection and my health becomes subject to change. More and more, studies and articles are showing the connection between Spirit/prayer and health. (For example: How Prayer Leads to Better Health and Longer Life)
In a broad and general sense, sin is accepting something less than a good and ever-present God as well as denying His ability to care for mankind’s needs. In a specific sense, sin is thinking and acting in an immoral and unloving way.
Back to shoes and toes. I’m learning that when I try to put something too big (toes) into something too small (8½ shoes), pain is eventually going to show up.
However, isn’t that what I do? Aren’t I constantly thinking about myself rather than Spirit? Thinking I’m matter-based when Spirit made me spiritually? Attempting to live life small or limited when Life is really God, big, infinite and dynamic?
Yet, the more I understand Spirit and my spiritual nature, the fewer mistakes I will make and the greater dominion I will have over the temptation to sin.
Again, to overcome a mistake, knowledge is needed. To stop each sin’s impact on health, the sin must be stopped.
Where do I begin? First, I must know myself as the spiritual child of God, made to express goodness and grace. Second, I must recognize the weaknesses and sins I’ve accepted as a part of myself. Then I must use the truth of the first to remove the aggressive lies of the second.
I believe that God has given you and me the power to subordinate thought and body to our spiritual understanding. As we express our God-given dominion, we can erase sin and remove its impact on our own health as well as on the health of others.
John D. Clague, Christian Science Committee on Publication for Oregon
This post is by my friend and colleague, Keith Wommack, Committee on Publication for the great state of Texas. I love this post because it introduces us to a truly enlightened individual in the medical field. Thank you Keith for sharing your conversation with Dr. John K. Graham!
By Keith Wommack, Chrisitan Science Committee on Publication for Texas.
Last week, when our meeting first began, I had the feeling I was in the presence of a new friend. I was right.
Dr. Graham is both a physician and a priest. The Institute’s website states that he received his M.D. Degree from Tulane Medical School in New Orleans and is board-certified in two medical specialties – otolaryngology and plastic and reconstructive surgery.
The website also states that in 1990, Dr. Graham left the practice of medicine and responded to God’s call to the priesthood. He attended Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, CA and received his Master of Divinity degree from the Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. In 2001 he received a Doctor of Ministry degree from Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. For twelve years (1998-2010) he served as Sr. Associate Rector at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston.
As soon as we sat down in his office, Dr. Graham explained the mission of the Institute. He said, “Its purpose is to educate healthcare professionals about the role of spirituality in healthcare.”
He told me about the 3,000 and more Randomized Controlled Trial studies in the medical literature that show a 66% positive correlation between spirituality and health. One study showed that if a person attended religious services once a week or more, his or her longevity increased by 7 years. Dr. Graham explained that attendees of regular religious services had measurably lower stress, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, and improved immune response (IL-6 levels) as well as maintenance of the proper Serotonin levels in the brain.
Dr. Graham feels that spiritually sensitive care is ethical care; and that people want spiritually sensitive health care.
Knowing that I was in the healing practice of Christian Science, Dr. Graham stated that people were just beginning to discover what Christian Scientists have known for years.
So, what have Christian Scientists known for years? Well, they have been learning that not only is spirituality important to health and well-being, but health is really Spirit-based, God endowed and maintained.
That feeling I had about being in the presence of a new friend, a kindred spirit, was right. As I was getting ready to leave, Dr. Graham grabbed a copy of his book, Graham Crackers & Milk: Food for the Heart & Soul, and wrote in it, “To Keith, I thank God for you and your ministry to bring health and healing to God’s people”. Hopefully, we will be speaking often.
The importance of spirituality, as revealed in the phenomenon of Christian healing, is a fact of being rather than a philosophical postulate. I’ve found that Christian, prayer-based healing is natural and effective. Prayer, in Christian Science, is usually more than a petition for betterment. It is a powerful treatment that utilizes spiritual laws.
Yes, the name Christian Science can appear confusing, at first. However, it is Christian, Bible-based, redemptive, and a responsible system of healing and living. It is a Science, provable and reasonable. It is a patient centered care, — a complete, spiritual approach to healthcare.
Spirituality enables treatment and care to reach down from God’s sovereignty rather than up from humanity’s limitations. By it, practitioners and patients experience and witness the healing benefits of glimpsing the wholly spiritual nature of health and being.
I am grateful to have met Dr. Graham and to have learned of the Institute’s mission: To educate healthcare professionals about the role of spirituality in healthcare.
I’m confident that humanity is moving closer and closer to understanding that spirituality in healthcare is important. I’m also confident that humanity is moving closer to the paramount fact that spirituality and health are inseparable.