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Spiritual Health

23. April 2011

Spring is my favorite time of year. I love the lingering evening sun, the brilliant freeway flowers and the high holy days?! It’s true! Passover and Easter are just around the corner and I look forward to the annual religious traditions that remind me to pause and reflect.

That wasn’t always the case. Although I was raised in the church… when I headed off to college, I ditched my religious traditions for what I thought were more important pursuits… a college degree, successful career and the right boyfriend.

In my late 20’s, I got a wake-up call. My mother died. She took her own life… the result of untreated, end-stage depression. I channeled my grief into a personal search for truth and meaning. Through a several years-long process of asking questions, talking with people whose faith was real, reading the Bible and giving church another try, I found some answers. I looked honestly at the claims of Christianity and determined they were true.

Obviously decisions about faith are personal, and I wouldn’t presume to tell someone how they should believe. But I’ve been interested to learn that faith and science aren’t mutually exclusive. Turns out, I don’t have to “shelve my brain” to be a woman of faith! There’s actually good, secular science that supports how a God consciousness” can fill some serious voids in our lives. Hope for the future. Peace about the unknown. And the ability to cope with whatever life hands you.

You may be familiar with some of the research on the relationship between prayer and healing. But a new study out of Harvard University may be a surprise. The researchers studied people who attend church or synagogue (the only faith traditions considered for this study) once a week and found they live an average 12 years longer than the general population. No other lifestyle choice can make that claim. The stunned researchers crunched the numbers again and the results were the same.

Now some have tried to explain the phenomenon by pointing out that church people tend to lead healthier lives and those who attend temple may have more social interaction. Both could certainly result in a longer life expectancy. But I think there’s something going on in our places of worship that’s worth investigating.

Listen. I’m no one to preach. But whether Christian, Jew, Buddhist or atheist… I am a big believer in the bumper-sticker philosophy, “Life is hard… and then you die!” Medical science agrees the chance of death is still 100%. It’s just been my experience and observation that people of faith seem to get through life’s twists and turns without as much wear and tear.

So to all of you who observe the springtime religious traditions, Happy Easter and a Blessed Passover. May God bless you with health and happiness!Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.