Generally, medicinal treatment is thought of in strictly concrete terms. However, the spiritual side of healing–faith and meditation–also plays a powerful role in healing.
When researchers from John Hopkins examined the potential of meditation by reviewing several previous studies. They found that mindfulness and meditation can help reduce symptoms of psychological stress and even pain. The American Psychological Association has concluded that these practices “lower heart rates, blood pressure and oxygen consumption, and they alleviate the symptoms associated with a vast array of conditions, including hypertension, arthritis, insomnia, depression, infertility, cancer, anxiety, even aging.”
An overview study from Baylor University indicated that spirituality’s greatest impact on health is found in 3 areas: mortality, coping, and recovery. Those who engage in regular spiritual practices tend to live longer. Those who participate in a spiritual community may also benefit from more social support.
Spirituality helps with coping in difficult situations, such as chronic pain and death. In fact, in response to a survey distributed by the American Pain Society, 76% of respondents said they used prayer to help manage pain; it was used more frequently than pain medication. Similarly, patients facing death from cancer, as well as parents who had lost their children to cancer, were interviewed about the role spirituality played in coping with fate. Of 108 women diagnosed with cancer, 93% said spiritual beliefs were helping them cope. Of 145 parents who had lost children to cancer, 80% found comfort from spirituality one year after. Even if the effect is only a placebo effect, studies have historically found the power of belief on physical healing.
Considering that 60-90% of visits to health care professionals are stress related, these practices have definite value. The power of positive thinking is a worthwhile endeavour, as well as trusting what nature has provided to heal.