Health Is Living Beyond Fear

Health is Living Beyond Fear

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

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

© GLOW IMAGES Model used for illustrative purposes

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.

Prescriptions That Are Outside the Doctor’s Toolbox

Prescriptions That Ate Outside the Doctor's Toolbox

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A guest post written by Ingrid Pechke, media and legislative advocate for Christian Science in Massachusetts

Patient-driven care, the mHealth movement, the fact that over a third of the population is willing to pay out of pocket for complementary and alternative medicine–this is today’s health care reality.

From the latest health apps on their mobile devices to having direct access to their online medical records, more people are taking charge of their health. This attitude is reflected in the latest list by Prevention of the 25 Happiest, Healthiest Cities in America. The cities that made the cut are right in line with current views on health: eating right, exercising, staying stress-free, and maintaining a spiritual discipline that involves prayer and a church community.

San Jose, CA got high marks for its abundantly available organic produce, Honolulu, HI boasts endless beaches and low-stress lifestyles, and Fargo, ND offers spiritual satisfaction and high church attendance.

…To read the rest of this blog on the Metrowest Daily News site, click here: Prescriptions That Are Outside The Doctors Toolbox

Link to Ingrid’s blog

Follow Ingrid on Twitter: @IMPeschke

Health Through Helping Others

Health Through Helping Others

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by Don Ingwerson

A couple of weeks 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.

Then one contractor flaked at the last minute and another contractor was brought in. When this new contractor called at the last minute to say he was going to be late, my son decided to ask why there was going to be a delay. It turned out that this contractor had been hired to install a closet for a client whose son had been killed in the Boston bombing and whose daughter had lost a leg. She was returning home soon and the family wanted to surprise her with a new closet. With that explanation, my son immediately assured the contractor that he could take all the time he needed, and it snapped my son out of worrying about his own schedule and into what was going to work for everybody.

What struck me about this conversation was that my son did not make this offer out of personal gain, but instead to fulfill another’s need. It’s the type of action that reduces stress, does away with a “me first” attitude, and leads to a giving, helpful, and positive environment. It’s also a personal example of what studies have found – that altruism leads to better health.

Of course this isn’t so surprising, as ancient wisdom has indicated it for millennia. One Biblical text, for instance, says, “I [God, or Spirit] will restore health unto you and I will heal you of your wounds.” Many are starting to see a connection between harmony in consciousness and in health.

Deepak Chopra, in his article “The Great Divide,” insists that the time is long past for ignoring the mind-body connection. Instead he shows how everyday decisions and modes of thought can and do affect health.

Herbert Bensen and Gregory Fricchione also support the conclusion that thought and health are linked. In Stress and Health: The New ‘Apple a Day’ Prescription, Bensen describes how individuals who practiced regular meditation had better health. “The ideal is to develop a routine, a time to bring forth the relaxation response that becomes as much a part of the day as brushing your teeth.”

I particularly appreciated the simplicity of Bensen’s suggestion as to what practicing the relaxation response does for health. He suggests that people should practice the relaxation response once a day for 10 or 20 minutes. I’ve found that a similar practice, one of early morning meditation, has helped me be mindful of those around me, which I feel has helped with my own health.

Without realizing it, my son did a lot for his health when he exhibited helpful characteristics, instead of a “me-first” attitude, which helped meet another person’s need. These small efforts to support a sense of harmony and peace when another individual is experiencing stress may seem like a trifle, but knowing that they can help maintain your health is a good clue that it’s wise to incorporate such efforts into your day.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Reducing Stress the Military Way?

 

Reducing Stress the Military Way?

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A guest post written by Keith Wommack, Columnist / Christian Science practitioner & teacher / Legislative advocate for spiritual healing

Marine Lance Corporal Carlos Lozano drops from a helicopter during a simulated raid, confronts mock Afghan villagers, and is rocked by loud explosions. Then, obeying orders, he sits silently and stares at his boots.

The Marine isn’t happy about stopping to meditate. But it just might be for his and the entire Marine Corps’ good.

The Associated Press spoke with Lozano about his training exercise:

“Lozano said he and fellow Marines were skeptical at first. Some wondered why their rigorous combat training was being interrupted by a class asking the warfighters to sit in silence and stare at their combat boots, becoming aware of how their feet touched the classroom floor.”

Jeffery Bearor, the executive deputy of the Marine Corps training and education command in Quantico, Virginia, told the AP, “This is not tied to any religious practice. This is about mental preparation to better handle stress.”

Marines are taught to quiet the mind in order to reach an inner calm.

Many are finding the mind to be the door to improved mental and physical health. Those utilizing mindfulness, meditation, or prayer-moments, to control and calm thought, claim these methods reduce stress and increase productivity.

Four years ago, Time reported that the Army intended to train its “1.1 million soldiers in the art of mental toughness.” The Defense Department hoped that “giving soldiers tools to fend off mental stress would toughen its troops at war and at home.”

Years ago, I had the opportunity to unofficially introduce prayerful reasoning to a member of a very selective federal law enforcement agency.

In 2001, I was flying in a prop-plane from Dallas to Waco, Texas. I asked the man sitting next to me about his business, and he mumbled his answer. I thought, perhaps, the noise of the propellers made it difficult to hear. “What?” I asked again. He repeated softly, “Secret Service.”

Turns out this man guarded the President of the United States. President George W. Bush was about to travel to Italy to attend the 27th G8 summit, to meet with Pope John Paul II, and to meet with President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi. A majority of the passengers onboard the plane were also agents on their way to Bush’s ranch near Waco.

I asked the agent if he knew that people prayed daily for the safety of the President and for those guarding him. He told me, “I can feel their prayers and they are greatly appreciated.”

I asked him, “What is the biggest challenge of your job?” He told me, “Fear. Fear would paralyze me and keep me from making immediate and correct decisions.”

I didn’t think it was a good idea to pry too much, but I did share with him what has helped me. “I give talks on the connection between health, thought, and spirituality,” I said. “Even when I’m confident about talking in front of an audience, fear will start to sneak in. But if I quickly recognize that the fear is not really mine — it has nothing to do with me — then it actually lessens or even disappears and things go better.”

The agent was still with me although not saying much, so I continued.

“Now, of course, standing in front of an audience is quite different from keeping the President from harm. But, there is a principle governing both of our thoughts and actions. And, I’m learning that this wise and operative principle is the Supreme Being.”

He turned to face me, listening openly to what I was sharing. I explained that this principle constantly maintained his wellbeing and intelligently ordered his daily movements. Just as the principle of mathematics keeps the rules and outcomes always consistent, this divine Principle was ever at work governing his life, enabling him to protect the President.

To remind him that he wasn’t working alone, I suggested that before each activity, he prayerfully cherish the divine guidance he inherently possesses. Finally, I told him I was confident that his intelligent decisions and quick, fearless responses while guarding the President were, and would be, evidence of this spiritual Principle at work.

When the plane landed, all the agents exited first, walked down the ramp to the tarmac, and started getting into limousines. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, the agent I had spoken with left the others, walked up to me, stuck out his hand, and shook mine with a strong clasp. Looking me in the eye, he said in a heartfelt tone, “Thank you very much.”

Today, the mental and physical toll that stress causes is immense, and fear is a major stress factor. However, meditation and prayer, humbling our mind to the divine, may be solutions that can help the military, security agents, and the rest of us.

– Keith Wommack is a Syndicated Columnist, Christian Science practitioner and teacher, husband, and step-dad. He has been described as a spiritual spur (since every horse needs a little nudge now and then). Keith’s columns originate at: KeithWommack.com

 

Beyond a Clinical View of Health

Beyond a Clinical View of Health

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Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

This post was originally posted July 16, 2012.

You hear a lot about living a healthy lifestyle, but what does that mean?

Meditation and love are very much a part of healthy lifestyles, according to columnist Mark Bittman, who stated in a New York Times Opinionator article, “For the first time in history, lifestyle diseases…kill more people than communicable ones…But they are preventable, and you prevent them the same way you cause them, lifestyle…diet, along with exercise, meditation and intangibles like love prevent and even reverse disease.”

I find it interesting that he didn’t list meditation under intangibles. Yet I think meditation and love, as well as prayer, should be included in this category. The Meditation Society of America gives the distinction between meditation and prayer by saying “that during prayer, we ask God for something, and during meditation, God speaks to us.” But for me, my prayers are directed to a God who is always present and available. Since God is as close as my thought, I am able to affirm qualities like health to be a vital element of a Christian lifestyle.

The intangibles of prayer and meditation are so important that Dr. Andrew Weil mentions these qualities in every book he has written since his first in 1972. In Spontaneous Happiness, he suggests that the use of these intangibles is a “powerful way to open thought to new, more spiritual ideas.”

I get the same sense of power and purpose from an early 20th century Christian writer who “withdrew from the world to meditate, to pray, to search the Scriptures.” When asked about this time in her life, Mary Baker Eddy writes that “it answered my questions as to the process by which I was restored to health.” (Pulpit and Press)

Improving or restoring health is a core goal in maintaining a spiritual lifestyle. Spiritual lifestyle experts Keith and Sharmai Amber suggest that an ongoing effective lifestyle needs to include something beyond diet and exercise – a spiritual life, which would not include What do I want? Instead it would include What am I supposed to learn from the conditions and circumstances in my life? Acting on the answers to this question leads to self-mastery, enlightenment, service, compassion, balance, and wisdom being chosen as the alternate behavior.

I have found a healthy lifestyle comes from the qualities inherent in Christian meditation, prayer, and love. These elements can give purpose to maintaining the regimens of proper exercising and eating. Without inner meaning from the intangibles, the daily schedule of diet and exercise would become burdensome. So each day I quench my hunger and thirst first thing with a diet of scriptural study and prayer. This quiet time has helped me filter out many counterproductive thoughts; then appropriate physical activities fall into place resulting in a healthy lifestyle.

What have you found that helps you lead a healthier life?

Article first published in Blogcritics.

The Health Pushup

 

The Health Pushup

© GLOW IMAGES
Model used for illustrative purposes

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 first published in Blogcritics