Does Spirituality Produce More Meaningful Meditation?

Does Spirituality Produce More Meaningful Meditation?

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by Don Ingwerson

Meditation, with its benefits and its shortcomings, has really been in the news in recent years. I’ve even written a number of blog posts on meditation as it relates to prayer. But now there is a different focus on meditation: combining meditation with the marketplace.Continue Reading

Who Knew? It’s Healthy to Help Others

Who Knew? It's Healthy to Help Others

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by Don Ingwerson

Awhile ago I was talking to my son as he was recapping the latest on his house-remodeling project. I’d been hearing about the ups and downs of remodeling the kitchen and bathroom – important high-traffic areas – and after months of disruption a date had finally been set for the cabinet installation. As you can imagine, after months of having kitchen materials stacked and piled on the dining room table and floor, the thought of finally having order restored brought relief.Continue Reading

Are You In a Lower Gear in Your Journey to Health?

Are You In a Lower Gear in Your Journey to Health?

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A guest post written by Tracy Clifton from Glendale, California

People talk about health a lot these days – and it’s not just physical health that’s being discussed. We’re realizing that mental health is just as important, and that our level of happiness and how we handle stress contribute to how we’re feeling physically.Continue Reading

Meditating on Love and Kindness is Healthy!

Meditating on Love and Kindness is Healthy!

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by Don Ingwerson

I’ve been pondering the ideas of love, kindness, and forgiveness a lot lately as I go through my days. These qualities are divinely inspired and actually qualities that we have in abundance. We just need to open up to the knowledge that they are a part of us.Continue Reading

What Heals a Broken Heart?

What Heals a Broken Heart?

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by Don Ingwerson

“Me heart broken,” my 3-year-old grandson said with tears in his eyes as he hugged his mother. This after he had gotten a little too rough in playing and had accidentally hurt her. Her physical hurt immediately drew a reaction from him – a reaction of sympathy, sorrow, and seeking forgiveness.Continue Reading

Health Is Living Beyond Fear

Health is Living Beyond Fear

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by Don Ingwerson

Everyone seems to be affected by fear in some way or another, but looking at fear and its causes isn’t intended to create more fear, but to show that it need not be harmful. Fear is self imposed but so intimately entwined in the individual that it seems as if it were as much a part of the individual as a body part. But let me assure you that you do have a choice with respect to fear.Continue Reading

Relieve Stress Through a New Type of Pushup

Relieve Stress Through a New Type of Pushup

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by Don Ingwerson

Robert Piper, author, columnist, and writer, in an article in Huffpost Healthy Living, includes meditation in his description for a new and updated concept of the pushup. To explain the need for a new pushup he comments, “The pushup has been a standard part of being American. If you grow up in America and go to school, one of the first things you’re taught in gym class is how to do a pushup. Millions of Americans do pushups before work, during their lunch break, and at the gym. Because of pushups, we’ve mastered getting ripped pectorals, deltoids, and triceps.”

But experts say our health is suffering from stress – not something the traditional pushup is known for addressing. Is there a ‘new pushup’ on the horizon?

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC’s Chief Medical Editor, recently said, “Stress is a huge [health] factor when we look at medical problems such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiac disease.” So, how do we find a “new” pushup to address stress and tension, which are at the base of many of our physical problems today?

When discussing stress Mr. Piper encourages, “Simple mindful breaks through the day will do wonders.” Those mindful breaks for me are moments filled with prayer and meditation. Dr. Gail Saltz, a New York Psychiatrist, states, “As you manage to get past things, your ability to look back as something else comes along and say, ‘Well, I got through that’ – that goes a long way.” Simple mindful breaks could be one way to build good coping skills, which Robert Piper feels could help in overcoming stress.

The public may already be using this new pushup. According to the 2002 NIH Study, 43% of the public was using prayer and 7.6% was using meditation for health concerns. The new American pushup, involving prayer or meditation and used to relieve stress and tension, may be as successful as the old American pushup. This new pushup seems to be more effective if applied immediately when the problem that creates tension or stress appears.

I can speak to the efficacy of this approach. I experienced a back problem created by unresolved work stress. Each time the back pain became intense, I would take a “simple mindful break” and meditate and pray. In one break, I referred to a Bible verse from Romans, “All things work together for good to them that love God.” My thinking about the work problem began to change, my stress lessened, and I was able to promote a climate of good will. This helped to create a new awareness for me of how to address health issues – just as the new pushup, which uses prayer and meditation, will today.

Article previously published march 18, 2013 and first published in Blogcritics.

Be Still to Combat Boredom

Be Still to Combat Boredom

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By Don Ingwerson

Have you ever experienced a day in which you weren’t somewhat bored? Until recently, boredom wasn’t really challenged but rather just accepted as part of one’s day. Most people accept some boredom as long as it is offset with experiences of joy and excitement.

Presently, boredom is receiving more attention as a source of health and emotional concerns. New studies are finding that boredom is pervasive throughout society and can encourage unhealthy attitudes and poor lifestyle choices. Marc Learner, who successfully fought a chronic illness for over 29 years, describes boredom as: “… getting stuck in your mind with nothing to do and lacking the courage to explore the unknown.”

With the high incidence of boredom found in society, Thomas Goetz, a professor of empirical educational research at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and colleagues studied the effects of boredom on high school and college students. This study, published in Motivation and Emotion, points out that boredom is common among high school students and it can be quite dangerous. This study found that high school students were more impacted by boredom than college students, perhaps because college students have more freedom to walk away from a boring situation. Boredom encourages the likelihood of smoking, drinking, and using drugs. Kids who are bored are also more likely to drop out of school.

Not only are these boredom-spurred lifestyle choices unhealthy, but studies have also linked boredom with stress and other health problems.

In his study, Goetz started with the understanding that there were four forms of boredom: indifferent, calibrating, searching, and reactant. Reactant boredom was considered the most serious as it takes the form of depression. However, during the study a new form of boredom was found – apathetic, which takes the form of aggression. When apathetic boredom and reactant boredom are experienced together, they are found to be very damaging to health if not treated.

Researchers Mark Fenske and John Eastwood found that boredom can be a sign of more serious problems. Drug and alcohol abuse counselors know that patients relapse when faced with boredom, and boredom is related to addiction, gambling, eating problems, and other chronic problems.  Because boredom is an underlying cause of many of society’s ills, understanding the link between the mind and the body is imperative.

One way to combat boredom is through spiritual cultivation. Jesus’ command to take heed – or stay awake – is an important reminder that spiritual attentiveness resists the slide into boredom. This “staying awake” can be found through meditation, prayer, or mindfulness.

Writer Lonnette Harrell agreed with this idea when she stated, “when people don’t have time alone with their thoughts, they often lack spirituality as well. If we are going to take time to meditate on why we are here, and what our purpose in life is, then we must have time alone, with our thoughts, to do so. God speaks to us in a still, small voice, and that voice is at peril of being completely drowned out by ring-tones, YouTube, TV, DVDs. CDs, iPods, computer games, etc. The Bible says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God.’ Not many of us even know what it means to be still anymore.”

Enjoying life without boredom is unquestionably a challenge. But there are steps that can be taken to reduce boredom and its resultant chronic problems. Practice starting the day with a quiet time to help cultivate a more spiritual and meaningful day. Meditation and prayer calm the mind and can lead to a more balanced scheduling of activities, which allows for the inclusion of gratitude, child-like wonder, and other health-giving qualities. There are probably many ways to prevent boredom, but as I see it, it is the result of prayer and meditation, words that describe, at least in this instance, a conscious effort to identify with the transformative presence of God-given good.The use of prayer and meditation in this situation is not so much for God to do something special for me but more the recognition of what God has already done and continues to do.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Health Significant to Successful Life

Health Significant to Successful Life

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by Don Ingwerson

A rising tide of public opinion shows health, more than almost any other aspect of life, to be significant to a successful life. More than 2000 Americans ranked five ingredients as contributors to their overall success, and the results were: being open to change at 94%; good health at 85%; finding time for important things at 83%; having a good marriage or relationship at 81%; having a job or career you love at 75%. As you can see, only one other area was thought to be more important than health.

These same views are being found in the workplace, where success is becoming increasingly difficult because of volatile and, sometimes, even hostile economic and work environments. Eight in ten workers feel that they are stressed by their work place – with low compensation and an ever-increasing workload being the greatest stressors. And many studies have found stress to be toxic to health. Because of this, workers are increasingly rethinking what’s important in life.

To combat mounting stress in work and personal lives, Arianna Huffington and Sheryl Sandberg counseled women to, “…lean back, and focus on their health and well-being in order to find personal fulfillment.”

This advice is helpful, but many individuals go further – by looking at the inner self – to find happiness, success, and to overcome stress in the workplace. And when they include spirituality in their pursuit of well being, many find health, happiness, and success are further increased, because people who consider themselves spiritual appear to be better able to cope with stress and heal faster.

Businesses are also finding that expressing appreciation to workers is a fundamental human need. These expressions can come in allowing for greater flexibility to meet family demands, allowing time for volunteering in the community, and even incorporating programs in the work place for quiet, contemplative time for meditation (and for some prayer). These are all things that say to the employee that the employer sees them as a whole person, not just a producer. When employees and their work are valued, their satisfaction and productivity rises, and they are motivated to maintain or improve their good work. They also are more likely to have stable family relationships, which further contribute to their success.

The following affirmation by a 19th-century Christian leader and health researcher, Mary Baker Eddy, encourages the attitude of developing the use of an individual’s spiritual resources: “Business men and cultured scholars have found that [spirituality] enhances their endurance and mental powers, enlarges their perception of character, gives them acuteness and comprehensiveness and ability to exceed their ordinary capacity.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures)

As individuals prioritize the pursuit of joy and happiness, they may not only boost well-being and health, but also actually spur success. A review of a 2005 study found that happy people are generally successful in work and relationships and also have good health. Success in the market place may be the result of the happiness that comes from attaining good health, enjoying work, balancing family and work life, and cultivating one’s relationship with the Divine rather than coming from high salaries, prestigious positions, and high stress loads.