At times it feels like we hear some kind of bad news almost every day — tragedies across our country, ongoing global wars and conflicts, economic woes, increasing political strife. Add this constant stream of negative information to the daily stress of managing jobs and families, and it can definitely affect your health. So how do you tend to the health of your soul with all this turmoil swirling around you?

Classically, we are made up of body, soul and spirit, with the “soul” consisting of our mind, will, emotions and imagination. The soul needs “health care” just as the physical body does. Research shows that caring for the soul directly affects our health in many ways. Some methods that we use to help our soul’s health are prayer, meditation and faith.

Prayer has been used in hospitals and clinics, and medical journals have published studies on the healing effects of prayer. The two most common forms of prayer are petitionary and intercessory. Petitionary prayer is asking something for one’s self, while intercessory prayer is asking something for others. Research has demonstrated that prayer can be beneficial in heart disease, decrease asthma, decrease side effects of surgery, decrease anxiety and depression, and help many other ailments.

Meditation is a type of prayer. When meditating, we become silent and listen instead of actively presenting our petitions and concerns. Research involving meditation has shown that it decreases the heart rate, lowers metabolic rate and lowers breathing. Meditation has also been shown to decrease stress, improve the mood, lower blood pressure, decrease emotional distress, improve psoriasis, improve acid reflux, improve the immune system, decrease fibromyalgia and decrease pain.

Many people believe that their faith keeps them whole. Numerous research studies have demonstrated that those belonging to faith communities generally enjoy greater health and lower rates of illness, and they recover quicker from illnesses and surgery. Faith substantiates things that are hoped for. It has been said that the prayer of faith is the one force by which the world is governed, stronger than gravity, light or heat; it controls all other forces and brings blessings to us. This is how and why people use faith to find hope and joy in the midst of stressful times.

Les Moore holds a master’s of science in Oriental medicine and is a naturopath, medical hydrologist and licensed acupuncturist. He is director, Integrative Medicine, at Clifton Springs Hospital, Ontario County.

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