“In my view there is no conflict in being a rigorous scientist and a person who believes in a God who takes a personal interest in each one of us. Science’s domain is to explore nature. God’s domain is in the spiritual world, a realm not possible to explore with the tools and language of science.” – Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project
Week 10: The Connection Between Spirituality and Health
Welcome to Week 10 of our How Einstein Would Get Pregnant blog series. Last week we discussed the evidence pointing to the fact of the “Body-Mind” connection, or the fact that our body can make us feel certain emotions by virtue of its state of relative health. This week, in honor of the holidays and religious celebrations going on around the world, we intend to focus on the power of prayer…the miraculous stories of healing…and the biology of belief.
It’s England on December 14, 1421 and a fourteen-year old girl suffered a painful and life-threatening injury when a hot spit went into her abdomen. People around here were able to extract the spit, but she was to the point of death. At that point, her parents and several other neighbors prayed to a specific saint (Osmund, the eleventh-century bishop of Salisbury) asking him that in exchange for her life being spared, that they would visit his tomb and honor him in prayer. Shortly thereafter, the girl began to show renewed signs of life, and two days later awoke and rose from her bed. Ten days later she was completely recovered.
The connection between religion, spirituality and healing is widespread and runs the history among many traditions. Jesus and Buddha were both healers, and saints and Gods are often attributed to miraculous healings, as exemplified by the story of the fourteen-year-old girl. Dr. Wayne Dyer speaks of his miracle cure to his knee during a visit to Lourdes in France, the famous shrine were thousands of similar healings are said to have occurred.
The History of Religion, Sickness and Health
Thomas Moore, in his book Care of the Soul in Medicine, suggests to doctors, nurses and other modern-day healers to try to possess a generally positive, “caring radiance” – making the comparison to the radiance associated with the halo around Jesus’ head as well as the radiant background to the various depictions of the Buddha. And as he says, “but we all have halos and auras. We all radiate the quality of our souls, both good and bad. It doesn’t take much to pick up on the radiance of care around a nurse or the radiance or expertise behind a doctor.”
“Those of us whose notions about the causes and cures of sickness are rooted in medical science may have difficulty knowing what to make of such reports.” The skeptics and scientists of our age often dismiss these stories as exaggerations, even pure fiction,” writes Robert Scott, author of Miracle Cures. He says that faith and the appeal of prayer to heal is “based on a body of theory and research that has been largely overlooked by those who study miracles cures: the work of social, behavioral and medical scientists showing that culture, beliefs, cognitions, emotions, social relationships and physical environment play a central role in the onset, course and outcome of illness.” I believe this is a very balanced and noteworthy point of view.
Our Thoughts, Beliefs and Fertility
The power of belief is all-encompassing when it comes to our bodies and our health. Barbara Bradley Hagerty in her book Fingerprints of God, writes about her experience with Christian Science, which holds as a central premise that healing is a function of spiritual understanding and that prayer changes our thoughts which enables us to heal. “Everything is thought in Christian Science. Everything is going on in your thinking.” She uses the example that if a mirror was full of smudges and toothpaste, your image is distorted and marred, but it is the mirror that holds the problem, not yourself. The way you clean the mirror – and restore your reflection – is to clean up your thinking.
She writes about the story of her Mother’s broken hand. She was playing around with her fiance at the time, hit her hand the wrong way, and knew immediately that something was wrong. She started thinking – almost like a mantra or meditation – “nothing can come into my human experience that I do no allow in my consciousness as a reality. You take it out of your consciousness – the broken hand – and erase it, and then you substitute health with the truth. She then writes that her mother “had this great sense of light – of one thing flowing out of another, out of another, out of another, into eternity. There was nothing but light. It’s all one. It’s all God. The all-ness of God, which is the oneness of God, and I was within that oneness.” She later went to see a doctor about her hand, who said that yes, the hand was broken, but that it was perfectly set and almost healed. She writes that her mother “reliving the intensity of the moment, remember walking out of his office, my feet didn’t touch the ground, I was so filled with God’s truth, the spirituality, the marvel in it. That was the end of it.”
I don’t know about you, but when I hear such stories I get into a different zone of thought as various doors open in my brain that I didn’t even know existed. I listen to them with an incredible amount of hope. Knowing and sensing this greater power that is readily available to us at all times. The spirit and universe that flows through all of us.
In fact, the quote from above of “one thing flowing out of another, out of another, out of another” made me think of Jill Bolte Taylor’s Stroke of Insight and her incredible and very moving speech about what happened to her while she was experiencing a stroke. Here it is and I highly recommend if you haven’t already done so, please watch this. For everyone faced with a medical challenge – or simply with the desire to live within a deeper level of truth and beauty – this video may point you in a new direction, a new wonderful way of thinking about life.
This meandering post doesn’t conclude with any specific suggestions or conclusions, but hopefully raised some questions in your mind about the power of belief as it pertains to spirituality. Why is it that the more we know about science, the more questions are raised that are almost unanswerable? Another great book is The Language of God by Francis Collins, who led the Human Genome Project. Here is a scientist who for most of his life defined his religious views as atheist, and the more he researched the human body and the building blocks of life, the more he became convinced that there simply is a higher power. Science and spirituality becoming closer the more we learn. Amazing.