7 Reasons To Forgive

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

My good friend and colleague, Tony Lobl, media and government liasion for Christian Science in the UK, wrote an article on why forgiving can be good for your health. It was published on June 6th in the BuzzFeed Community and I wanted to share it with my Southern California readers.Continue Reading

If It Heals You Does It Need to Be Measured?

© GLOW IMAGES

© GLOW IMAGES

In his Huffington Post piece my colleague and health writer Tony Lobl ponders an interesting point – If you cannot measure it, does it exist – and considers important “immeasurables” like spiritual healing experiences. He begins with what Dr. Brené Brown has to say.

“If you cannot measure it, it doesn’t exist,” Brené Brown was told by a research professor when still an aspiring PhD student.Continue Reading

Healing Addiction by Filling the Spiritual Vacuum

Healing Addiction by Filling the Spiritual Vacuum

© GLOW IMAGES Models used for illustrative purposes

A guest post written by Robert Moran from Goleta, California

For the past several years I have had the opportunity to work with troubled college students as a part-time counselor. Being an active Christian Scientist for nearly forty years, I have come to understand how spiritual principles supersede all other healing methods – including in the field of addiction. Most of the students I work with have been cited for being a minor in possession. As a first-offense diversionary tactic they have been sentenced to examine their relationship with drugs and alcohol by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

Students sentenced to attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings for these minor law infractions are usually told that they need to admit they are powerless over alcohol and/or drugs if they are to get any help from AA. They also must come to understand that addiction is an incurable illness, which will haunt them their entire lives.

But recently I read a wonderful article by Tony Lobl that clearly gave a higher view of man as untouched by addiction. Like Tony, I have learned through experience that an individual’s addiction is merely a symptom of an underlying spiritual vacuum. But someone can only perceive a seeming spiritual vacuum if s/he hasn’t gained a deeper understanding of man’s relationship to God as taught in Christian Science. Luckily AA readily admits on pg. 164 (the last page of their textbook) that they know only a little and that God will disclose more to them if their relationship to God is right. Mary Baker Eddy teaches us that God is all-powerful and that there can be no disease when we understand our relationship to the Divine. Each Christian Scientist would do the field of addiction a huge push forward if we support this idea in relation to addiction. Let us keep any perceived spiritual vacuum filled with the knowledge and understanding of God’s powerful healing ideas.

Restoring the Heart to Healthcare

Restoring the Heart to Healthcare

© GLOW IMAGES
Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

This blog was originally published April 8, 2013, but I wanted to take another look at the importance of “heart” in healthcare after I read the July 8, 2013 Christian Science Sentinel article titled, “A Perfect Heart.” What struck me about that article is the mention that the word heart appears more than 700 times in the KJV Bible, but it almost never references a physical organ! Clearly heart is important as a spiritual concept.

“Mindfulness Meeting This Way” proclaimed a small sign at the entrance of one of the many medical buildings on the UCLA Campus – and suddenly I felt invigorated. I was not there to attend a mindfulness meeting, but to interview the GWish (George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health) project director, Dr. Margaret Stuber, about a Templeton-funded study to promote spirituality and health in medicine and healthcare.

I was so encouraged by my first interview with Dr. Stuber over a year ago as the project was just getting under way, and we discussed prayer, shared decision-making, and accountability in patient-centered healthcare. Dr. Stuber had told me that the medical students were the hardest to convince that they were not the only decision-makers in caring for patients. So you can understand why I was so energized upon seeing the sign in this medical facility about mindfulness!

Spirituality and Health is a relatively new field in medicine and healthcare. “Historically,” says GWish project director Dr. Christina Puchalski, “healthcare in the United States was founded on spiritual values… Over the last 60 years medicine and healthcare have been challenged by the tremendous explosion of technological advances and by the reality of increasing costs. These challenges have overshadowed the primary mission of medicine and healthcare – to serve the whole person with care and compassion.” With this in mind, Dr. Puchalski feels the mission of GWish is to foster a more compassionate and caring healthcare system and restore the heart and humanity to healthcare.

While my questions to Dr. Stuber primarily focused on prayer, shared decision-making, and accountability, ideas we had discussed previously, Dr. Stuber preferred to integrate these elements into a focus on prevention and how to provide more economical and efficient healthcare. She also focused on lesser-used complementary and alternative therapies such as massage, diets, yoga, etc.

She stressed that this is the time for change in healthcare, with prevention as a major element in primary care treatment – and this effort would include elements of mindfulness. As these changes take place, she indicated that more accountability will also be included, with overall quality of patient health affecting the amount of remuneration that those who deliver services receive.

Just as the mindfulness meeting sign was the first thing I saw in the medical facility, I see spirituality included in much of the thinking of those creating new medical and healthcare curricula. As I left the interview and looked at the mindfulness meeting sign again, I was reminded that Mary Baker Eddy, 19th century health researcher and author of Science and Health, gave new meaning to spiritual needs in the area of health by advocating the use of prayer to address the needs of individuals – stressing mind, body, and spirit.

A colleague of mine in England observed, “When we stop seeing ourselves primarily as machines in need of fixing, a more holistic approach is emerging – one that celebrates a patient’s often overlooked understanding of their own needs and the best way to meet them.” If this is what mindfulness leads to, I know I will continue to feel excited and invigorated.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

Restoring the Heart to Healthcare

Restoring the Heart to Healthcare

© GLOW IMAGES
Model used for illustrative purposes

by Don Ingwerson

“Mindfulness Meeting This Way” proclaimed a small sign at the entrance of one of the many medical buildings on the UCLA Campus – and suddenly I felt invigorated. I was not there to attend a mindfulness meeting, but to interview the GWish (George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health) project director, Dr. Margaret Stuber, about a Templeton-funded study to promote spirituality and health in medicine and healthcare.

I was so encouraged by my first interview with Dr. Stuber over a year ago as the project was just getting under way, and we discussed prayer, shared decision-making, and accountability in patient-centered healthcare. Dr. Stuber had told me that the medical students were the hardest to convince that they were not the only decision-makers in caring for patients. So you can understand why I was so energized upon seeing the sign in this medical facility about mindfulness!

Spirituality and Health is a relatively new field in medicine and healthcare. “Historically,” says GWish project director Dr. Christina Puchalski, “healthcare in the United States was founded on spiritual values… Over the last 60 years medicine and healthcare have been challenged by the tremendous explosion of technological advances and by the reality of increasing costs. These challenges have overshadowed the primary mission of medicine and healthcare – to serve the whole person with care and compassion.” With this in mind, Dr. Puchalski feels the mission of GWish is to foster a more compassionate and caring healthcare system and restore the heart and humanity to healthcare.

While my questions to Dr. Stuber primarily focused on prayer, shared decision-making, and accountability, ideas we had discussed previously, Dr. Stuber preferred to integrate these elements into a focus on prevention and how to provide more economical and efficient healthcare. She also focused on lesser-used complementary and alternative therapies such as massage, diets, yoga, etc.

She stressed that this is the time for change in healthcare, with prevention as a major element in primary care treatment – and this effort would include elements of mindfulness. As these changes take place, she indicated that more accountability will also be included, with overall quality of patient health affecting the amount of remuneration that those who deliver services receive.

Just as the mindfulness meeting sign was the first thing I saw in the medical facility, I see spirituality included in much of the thinking of those creating new medical and healthcare curricula. As I left the interview and looked at the mindfulness meeting sign again, I was reminded that Mary Baker Eddy, 19th century health researcher and author of Science and Health, gave new meaning to spiritual needs in the area of health by advocating the use of prayer to address the needs of individuals – stressing mind, body, and spirit.

A colleague of mine in England observed, “When we stop seeing ourselves primarily as machines in need of fixing, a more holistic approach is emerging – one that celebrates a patient’s often overlooked understanding of their own needs and the best way to meet them.” If this is what mindfulness leads to, I know I will continue to feel excited and invigorated.

Article first published in Blogcritics.

6 Ways to Build a Healthy Resolve

 

6 Ways to Build a Healthy Resolve

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Resolving to make changes for the better is a good idea any time of the year…but each New Year helpfully reminds us of that fact! Tony Lobl’s Huffington Post UK blog “Keeping on Track With Those ‘New Year’ Resolutions – 6 Ways t0 Build a Healthy Resolve” was posted last year, but its message is still a good place to start.

Resolve is a key quality in character reform.

But taking it out of the airing cupboard one day a year isn’t necessarily a great recipe for success. In order to turn around an unwanted character trait it can help to develop our resolve through a more consistent spiritual practice.

Here are six things that can help that happen.

1. Watching for will-power. That is, watching out for it. Why? Well, think of those lemmings! Will-power says “If I want it, I can get it”. Spirituality takes a step back to examine whether the desired goal is a healthy one to be harbouring in the first place. Is it just for one’s own benefit or will it be of value to others too? Maintaining resolve is a whole lot easier when it is applied to something we intuitively feel will also serve a greater good.

2. Listening for “a still, small voice”. That is how the Bible beautifully articulates the idea of perceiving and embracing a broader, wiser perspective that is always whispering within. We hear it as we are willing to set aside our own plans and lean on the divine to point out a better direction. This builds a solid foundation for resolve, because when it works from the outset it gives us a basis for confidence we can stay the course, knowing at every step of the way we will have access to that same intuitive resource.

3. Embrace change. What if change is like a patient visitor repeatedly knocking on the door of our thought, waiting to be welcomed in? Did Michelangelo catch a glimpse of this when he said of the stone he sculpted: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free”? Couldn’t the very desire to change suggest we each have an inner “sculpture” just waiting to be seen – an individuality including all life’s best qualities, such as love, joy, intelligence, creativity, freedom and kindness. Having that in mind as a model demanding to take form reinforces the conviction we are empowered to reach our goal – one that is not so much a New Year’s resolution as a “new you” resolution at any time of the year.

4. Go easy on yourself. I’ve found self-forgiveness is a powerful ally of resolve, and often opens the way to achieving our aims. I once overslept through an important appointment and was mentally condemning myself until I glimpsed a need to be less self-critical. I felt inspired to take a walk in Kew Gardens, which I hadn’t visited for years, and promptly bumped into the very person I was meant to have met that morning. We conducted and concluded our business then and there. What if we are tempted to feel we’ve “slept through” countless opportunities to improve our lot? Rather than thinking we are prisoners of the past we can acknowledge our freedom to see the unwavering possibilities of the present.

5. Patience is more than just a virtue. It is actually a force for good when the going gets tough, as it probably will. Our unwanted character traits sometimes seem to have a voice of their own, persistently arguing their corner. We have to be as patient with ourselves as a parent would be in encouraging a child to reach its full potential. It is love that drives the patience in both cases. We value ourselves enough to stick with the process until we are free.

6. A “new you” is a healthier you. Character reform and health reform go hand in hand. In many ways this is taken for granted. For instance, it is accepted that moderating a drinking habit is going to improve health. But the links between character and well-being go much deeper than just effecting a change in our actions. Changing thought can be pivotal. Researchers have found traits like bitterness, bad temper and resentment can undermine health, while their opposites promote it. So becoming more forgiving, patient and persistent to bring about change doesn’t just remove a single undesirable characteristic at the end of a process of transformation. It also exercises a wealth of prescription-free, health-giving qualities throughout the process. And by evidencing a link between our thoughts and our well-being we might just be probing whether “healthy and free” is what we are divinely “sculpted” to be.

Change for change’s sake is not desirable. But change which is desirable for the sake of our own happiness and that of others is attainable.

Whether it is something in our characters or something about our health that needs improving, we don’t have to pay homage to the status quo. We are equipped with the resolve we need to ring in the changes.

Follow Tony Lobl on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@tonylobl

Steps to a Healthier Christmas

Steps to a Healthier Christmas

© GLOW IMAGES

by Don Ingwerson

I shared “12 Spiritual Steps to a Healthier Christmas,” written by Tony Lobl (UK Committee on Publication), last year, but I thought it was definitely worth sharing again because Thanksgiving is just a couple of days away and then we will be into the Christmas season. Also, check out the comments at the end of Tony’s article, especially Bob Eklund’s haiku! He’s the assistant committee for the Inglewood-Westchester church.

Click here to read Tony’s article: 12 Spiritual Steps to a Healthier Christmas

Patients Making Medical Decisions

Patients Making Medical Decisions

© GLOW IMAGES

by Don Ingwerson

An English chap by the name of Tony Lobl recently wrote an article published in the Huffington Post UK on a topic I’ve been excitedly exploring for years: patient-led care. The most intriguing aspect of his article was when Lobl described a future health care system as being patient centered. Instead of the medical/drug industry deciding what a patient needs, the patient of the future would be an active participant – being the final decision maker in what he or she needs. This seems like a natural outcome of much research I’ve been reading about. Here are a few trends from that research:

Patients have access to a health team – physicians, chaplains, and patients all working together, but the patient is the decision maker. (Templeton-funded GWish Project)

Conventional medicine has been and continues to be too expensive and less effective overall. (Escape Fire)

Alternative therapy (CAM) has been the choice by many, with 40% of Americans spending $34 billion per year. (NIH)

At 49 percent, prayer is found to be the most used of the 10 alternative medicines. (NIH)

Conventional medical adherents’ longstanding objection to “unscientific validation of alternative medicine” is being challenged – and the scientific community is now realizing that it needs to find ways to measure alternative medicine’s effectiveness. (Rand corporation report – alternative therapies)

This concept is further explored in an article in Allnurses.com:

“During the last century, as the science and technology of medicine advanced exponentially, spirituality became less and less a consideration for nursing and medical practitioners working with ill patients. In fact, addressing spiritual issues has even been looked upon as inappropriate in some medical settings.

“But there is now substantial scientific evidence supporting the important role of spirituality in health and illness and suggesting that medical providers might be causing harm to their patients by overlooking these factors.”

Studies of health care strongly indicate that there are many in the medical profession as well as members of the public who desire changes in the concept of health care and how it’s delivered. UCLA is involved in a project studying how physicians, chaplains, and patients can help facilitate these changes for faster and better healing.

When I discussed the progress of this project with the director, she indicated that not only the functions (past practices) were of concern but also attitudes (who’s in charge). If patients are decision makers, then information sharing, choices, and alternatives become major issues. The GWish project has developed guidelines for what physicians and health care workers should ask the patient in order to obtain appropriate information about faith and spirituality. However, they are just beginning to share this information with others and determine applicability.

Author Karen Wyatt lists in this same article five spiritual concepts western medicine must embrace. Number one on the list is prayer (an alternative medicine) followed by unconditional love, forgiveness, meaning, and spiritual practice.

I have had many opportunities to experience the healing resource that resides within each of us. But my first eye-opening experience, which changed the course of my life, occurred when I was in college.

I was part of a fraternity house pledge sneak and found myself running through a dark field. Unfortunately, I tripped over some tangled wire and hit the ground with the full weight of my body on my hand, which really mashed my fingers and hand. The hand and arm swelled up and it was not a pretty sight.

My frat brothers insisted that I go to the local hospital emergency room. The doctor on duty felt it was best not to perform any surgery on the hand until the swelling went down. So a cast was placed on the arm from the shoulder to the hand and I was released for the time being.

One of the college students I had met earlier on a blind date suggested that I might like to pray about the injury. She said prayer had helped her many times.

Although this hadn’t crossed my mind, I was struck by the sincerity of her statement, so I decided to give prayer a try. The idea that I prayed with was from the first chapter of Genesis, “God made man in his image and likeness.”

As I prayed about the hand, almost immediately I felt the bones, cuts, and bruises begin to heal and knit together – so much so that within a few days I had cut the cast off and was going about my regular duties at the frat house. To this day, I can’t tell you which hand was involved. There has never been any problem with my hand despite the doctor’s concern that the injury would require surgery.

Today, that use of prayer would probably be classified as alternative medicine. Because I am very interested in our ability to heal, I have been excited to see the dramatic strides the medical community has been making in the field of holistic medicine.

As my colleague in England observed, “When we stop seeing ourselves primarily as machines in need of fixing, a more holistic approach is emerging – one that celebrates a patient’s often overlooked understanding of their own needs and the best way to meet them.”

Article first published in Blogcritics

Spirituality and Stress

Spirituality and Stress

Photo illustrated by Julie Jordan

Tony Lobl is the British and Irish media/legislative representative for Christian Science, and is also a representative for Christian Science to pan-European institutions. Here is an excerpt from his article published in The Independent titled “Facing Modern-Day Stress with Time-Tested Tools.” It takes a look at the spiritual angle on dealing with today’s added stresses. 

Some researchers into stress have been digging a little deeper into the surrounding question of whether there is actually an advantage to believing there is a divine ear listening at the other end of those prayers.

A University of Michigan study into “Gratitude Toward God, Stress, and Health in Late Life” found positive results for that gratitude, especially for older women who are more likely to feel grateful to God than older men. The results revealed that the effects of stress (e.g. living in a deteriorated neighborhood) on health are reduced for older people who feel more grateful to God.

Gratitude to God can also de-stress men, young people and those who live in pleasant suburbs…

Read the full blog here.

Questions of Identity in Sickness and Health

Questions of Identity in Sickness and Health

Photo illustrated by Henri Sivonen

A guest post written by Tony Lobl, the British and Irish media/legislative representative for Christian Science, and a representative for Christian Science to pan-European institutions.

“Have you noticed how everything seems a little impersonal nowadays? We have all become user names, reference numbers and IP addresses.”

Thus spake Starbucks in their latest ad, unveiled last Tuesday. But they have a remedy.

“From now on,” they promised, “We won’t refer to you as a latte, or a mocha, but as your folks intended: by your name!”

That’s progress in the coffee shop. Speaking as the Frappucino with an iPad in the Next store Starbucks in Kingston upon Thames, I appreciate this recognition of my individuality.Continue Reading