Does spirituality have a part to play in our health? Dr. Lyren Chiu of Vancouver knows from experience that it does. As President of the Canadian Research Institute of Spirituality and Healing (CRISH), she is inviting members of the public to join with health care professionals, spiritual care givers and the Institute, for a day of workshops and discussion that aims to provide a diverse, interdisciplinary, multi-faith forum for sharing views and experiences on this topic.
Archive for the 'Health' Category
Have you had a good laugh lately? I mean a really good – deep within – laugh?
Years ago, I ran across a group practicing “laughter yoga” and found myself fascinated. As I watched, I couldn’t help but smile, because – of course – laughter is infectious. Developed by Indian physician Dr. Madan Kataria, this approach to yoga is now a worldwide movement that has caught the attention of health researchers around the globe. A recent study on the effect of laughter on memory and stress levels found a wide range of health benefits including memory improvement and lower stress. Read more…
Every morning, the great cellist and pianist Pablo Cassals would play two of the Prelude and Fugues for keyboard by Bach. He felt that it started his day with God, because he felt “Bach wrote every piece to the glory of God.”
In the art world the pressure to practice and perform can be huge, and the accompanying stress can lead to some serious health concerns that musicians often ignore or hide. Cassals, who played well into his nineties, had an approach that quietly focused his day with a spiritual love that permeated his life, music and health, explained musician Nancy Sheeley, who is a pianist and teacher in Victoria, BC. Read more…
Energy drinks, power bars, food supplements, and ever more rigorous exercise routines are all designed to increase our vigour and strength we are told. It seems that the search for energy is sought from outside ourselves at every turn. And many businesses are eager to capitalize on our search.
It is important to eat healthy food and to keep oneself active. But is it really necessary to reach for that next perfectly balanced carbohydrate-protein bar or caffeine soaked snack or to add one more day of demanding exercise to your routine? I learned some time ago, there’s another way to view and experience energy.
At one point in my life I cross-country skied quite a lot, and one year found myself training for the Birkebeiner ski marathon in Norway. It’s a 2000-metre ascent over about 50 km of mountain terrain. I’m glad I didn’t know how tough it was going to be before I started! At the top of the mountain, in whiteout conditions, wet and feeling very alone, it would have been so easy to quit. I was certainly tempted because many others had already quietly dropped out – but I didn’t. Was it human will – or something else? More on that in a minute. Read more…
“An epidemic of fear” is an article regarding the Ebola epidemic in Africa that pinpoints the problem of fear resulting from over-exposure to our media-laden world. It looks at the question – Is fear catching? The author, Dr. Kate Scannell, feels that it is. She shares her experience of a 90-year old gentleman living in a small mid-western American town. Watching the news constantly had made him terrified of the Ebola epidemic in a far away country that he had never visited. She diagnosed his case as “suffering from overdoses of manic, sensationalized reporting and feverish medical commentary” – which is often misleading and conflicting, she points out. Read more…
“I think, therefore, I am” (Cogita Ergo Sum) wrote Rene Descartes. This simple statement became a fundamental proposition in Western philosophy and a foundation for the formation of all knowledge in the mid 1600s. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cogito_ergo_sum
Two and a half centuries later, Mary Baker Eddy wrote: “The time for thinkers has come” at the beginning of her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures.” It’s a book that challenges the idea that thought is solely the province of the human mind, and explores the idea that there is a divine influence that can change the way we think about life and health. Her book came as a result of many years of research into how Jesus healed. This exploration led her to the conclusion that our very health depends on our ability to reason – i.e., think through something – spiritually.
But are we comfortable with the exercise of thinking, either spiritually or humanly? John Terrell, editor of Science Dialogues, recently wrote an article called “Is thinking a popular leisure time choice?” He referred to a series of studies that have recently been published and are under much discussion. “Just Think – The challenges of the disengaged mind,” looks at the findings of a team of researchers from the University of Virginia: “In 11 studies, we found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do but think, that they enjoyed doing mundane external activities much more, and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts. Most people seem to prefer to be doing something rather than nothing, even if that something is negative”.
But the study does not examine what it was that the subjects disliked so much about the prospect of silent thinking, other than they preferred to be doing something other than just sitting and thinking.
I would say that thinking is much more important to people than this study would have us believe, and especially when it comes to our health. Thinking can be positive and active, not just mindless and passive. And it can contribute to our health in ways that are only just beginning to be explored by Western cultures.
For example, Therese Bouchard discovered the importance of her ability to think after nearly a decade of struggle with alcoholism and bipolar disorder. She had spent eight years just doing what her psychiatrist and doctor said; that is, remembering the old adage, “If you think too much, you’ll get drunk.” But then she started to consider her life more deeply, and how it was going nowhere. And she began to wonder whether perhaps she was taking too many drugs and should instead be thinking about taking some responsibility for her thoughts and actions, and not allowing others to think for her. She and her doctor talked about it, and both “acknowledged that neither conventional psychiatry nor functional medicine holds all the answers.” She began to realize the importance of taking charge of her thoughts and her life. She said it was the first time since her hospitalization that she had reached for the helm.
Bouchard learned the importance of taking charge of her own thinking to improve her health.
I can really relate to Bouchard’s experience. Many years ago I struggled with depression. I saw it as something I had, and therefore had to get rid of; but it stayed with me like a large black cloud wherever I went. Then one day, while feeling particularly low, I had an epiphany: “Why, it is not the presence of depression that you are having to remove, but rather, you are believing you have lost your joy.” This piece of reasoning was a wake up call. I saw there was something I could do for myself.
I accepted that joy was in my life. It was not lost, because real joy is spiritual; and though sometimes hidden, it is there within each of us – always. It is one way we can feel the presence of the divine. The result was that I determined to be mindful each day to notice that joy, whether it was seeing a dog wagging its tail or a child laughing on the street. I became very absorbed in this activity, and one day, after some months, a friend remarked to me how full of joy I was. I realized with surprise that I had not felt that dark sadness for quite some months. It has never returned.
Spiritual thinking is an active ability we all possess and can learn to utilize. And when we use it, we feel whole again, in every area of our lives.
Canada Day is one of my favourite days of the year! Why? Because two decades ago I became a Canadian citizen on this very day. So, like many others, I am not only celebrating Canada’s birthday but also the anniversary of becoming a citizen of this wonderful country.
I loved Canada from the first day I arrived. It is inspiring to experience the vast tracts of magnificent wilderness, to remember that we are the guests of the First Nations people, to enjoy the humour that is neither American nor British; and to feel the warm acceptance of different cultures and faiths from around the world. But most of all, I love the pioneering spirit that comes with free thought and fresh ideas, inspiring innovation and invention. We are consistently at the leading edge, both geographically as well as mentally and spiritually…. Read more…
We need a new language when talking about our health. “We talk in military terms [about disease],” said well-known author and intuitive speaker, Carolyn Myss, during her colourful key-note address at the recent “I Can Do it” conference in Vancouver, sponsored by Hay House Publishing.
We “fight” the flu, “battle” cancer or “combat” a cold, and use such words such as “attack,” “defence” and “struggle.” We even talk about ‘losing or winning the battle.’ A careful scrutiny of health ads reveals many military terms in use – even for simple ailments. But does this “battle” approach improve our health?
The BBC recently aired a talk on this subject with Professor Elena Semino, Professor of Linguistics at Lancaster University. In the conversation, titled “Talking about the Battle Against Cancer,” Professor Semino pointed out that studies show that this language of promoting continual war with the body is not always helpful. In fact, many patients find that militaristic language hinders their recovery.
Continually positioning ourselves in an attack or defence position, mentally places us in a “flight or fight” mode, which is as we know, stressful. What if we laid down our mental weapons of war, and decided to develop a new. more compassionate language for how we see both ourselves and our health? What if every conversation regarding our health included the idea of love? Read more…
According to a Gallup poll, over eight million North Americans say they have had a near-death experience, and this number is said to be underestimated. NDE’s, as they are called, are now increasingly debated, challenging the way we see life and death. In our haste to study them – to prove or disprove them – we should ensure we don’t miss the deeply individual and important spiritual lessons they teach about the nature of life and health.
NDEs are not new. They are recorded throughout written history and in many faith traditions. The first recorded mention is by the great Greek philosopher, Plato. The Tibetan Book of the Dead mentions them, as do the Bible and the Koran.
Many people who have experienced NDEs are shy about speaking of them, frightened about being ridiculed and disbelieved. They want to protect and process what they saw and experienced rather than have it dismantled piece by piece by skeptics or clinical studies.
Recently, though, the discussion has broken wide open with the publication of books such as “Proof of Heaven” by neurologist Dr. Eben Alexander. Alexander was …… you can read the rest of this article in the Vancouver Sun HERE
“It’s all in the genes” is a comment we hear often. Whether it is about our health problems, weight issues or temperament, we have been educated to believe we are programmed a certain way even before birth, and that there is not much we can do but grin and bear it.
At the Hay House Conference with the theme “I Can do it,” held this month in Vancouver, Dr. Bruce Lipton challenged this belief. He spoke about the results from his pioneering studies into the new science of epigenetics, which means “above the gene.” He gave an example of an experiment he did in cultivating stem cells in a petri dish. After some time he divided the genetically identical cells into two or more dishes, and placed them all in different environments. He asked the question, “What controls the fate of the cells – their genetic composition or their environment?” The result of his experiment, and many other similar ones, is that even though the cells were genetically identical, they each subsequently evolved differently because of their environment. Read more…