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Faith influences health, many believe

I’ve been enjoying Personal Best, and the breadth of ideas it offers about how to be and stay healthy. I like reading about people who are proactive about their health. These pages have become a force for healthy living in our community. I'm grateful for that and want to give back. So here's a question for other Personal Best readers: Does spirituality play an important role in being and staying healthy?

Research indicates that many of us would say yes. Spirituality, defined as a belief in and appeal to a spiritual power outside the body, is more prevalent in America than you might think. A 2008 Pew Forum on Religious and Public Life poll shows that:

• 71 percent of Americans are absolutely certain about their belief in God or a Universal Spirit.

• 56 percent see religion as "very important" in life.

• 58 percent pray once a day.

• 80 percent believe in miracles.

While approaches to spirituality and how to bring it to bear on health may vary, there is a growing consensus that spirituality and health are connected, and this connection deserves serious attention.

The University of Miami's Medical Wellness Center defines "wellness" as "the integration of body, mind and spirit and the ongoing development of one's own meaning in life."

Johns Hopkins Hospital has offered its Institute on Spirituality and Medicine to hospital staff and local clergy for the past 60 years.

The Duke University Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health lists in its goals: "Informing the public about relationships between religion, spirituality and health."

As a practicing Christian Scientist, I find health and healing through daily Bible study and quiet, focused prayer. Others find it through meditation or contemplation of their own sacred texts. Some find it in simple moments of stillness and quiet reflection, or gratitude for the good in their lives and willingness to share that good with others.

Because the nature of spirit is not finite, there would seem to be an infinite number of ways to find health and healing through turning to a power outside the body, a spiritual power. As we all look for better and less expensive ways to stay healthy, spirituality and health will continue to be powerful partners.

Bob Clark is a Christian Science practitioner from Belleair. Read his blog at

Faith influences health, many believe 02/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, February 25, 2011 3:30am]
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