“Anger kills,” says Redford Williams, director of Duke University Medical Center's Behavioral Medicine Research Center. He references studies of cancer and cardiac patients. He has also authored the book, "Anger Kills".

And “Prayer saves lives,” says Harold Koenig, director of the medical center's Program on Religion, Aging and Health. "We're not talking about miracles or some type of supernatural phenomena. We're just looking at basic social, psychological and physiological parameters. That’s all."

Koenig has found religious faith reduces stress, anxiety and depression, and that achieving serenity means lower adrenalin and in turn the enhancement of the immune system to fight infections, cancer, heart disease, stroke and stomach and bowel problems.

Research has confirmed the clinical benefits of religious belief, prayer and meditation, and so has our common sense, though molecular biologists are still trying to make that link between 'thought' and the biochemical malfunctions of disease.

Robert Felix, author of The Partners Within, ( http://www.partnerswithin.com ) has been educating on the healing power of prayer and meditation to overcome destructive emotions for the last decade. We interviewed him to get his perspective.

Q: How do you feel now that scientific studies are confirming your work in this way?
Felix: It's exciting to see what's happening now. There are more studies coming out all the time. The Wall Street Journal Science column in January featured studies from the University of Wisconsin confirming that "meditation, Buddhist or otherwise, might change the brain and, in particular, its emotional circuitry." I have incorporated this in my book, which is a manual on prayer and meditation.

Q: How does this work, changing emotional circuitry with meditation?
Felix: The current studies focused on the amygdala - a little almond-shaped center located deep in the brain. It has been shown to be involved with the negative emotions such as fear, anger, anxiety and depression. This emotional center needs to be modulated by the prefrontal cortex.

Q: What happens if it isn't modulated?
Felix: Well, then negative emotions can snowball into destructive behavior patterns. Typically, the psychiatric community treats these poor states of mental health with neuroplastic drugs such as serotonin uptake inhibitors (Prozac, Zoloft, etc.) with mixed success.

Q: I certainly know people for whom this hasn't been the answer. So you think there's a more successful way?
Felix: These studies have suggested that meditation strengthens the connections between the prefrontal cortex and the amygdala. They said, "Inhibitory signals from the prefrontal cortex appear to rein in the amygdala like a good yank on a kite string. The stronger or more numerous those "stop firing!" signals, the stronger the inhibition."

Q: So that's the mind-body connection! But does that mean we can do it ourselves?
Felix: Yes, and I tell you how in my book. Prof. Richard Davidson of the University of Wisconsin concluded, "It appears the inhibitory signal reaching the amygdala can be modulated voluntarily."

Q: And what happens when we learn how to modulate it ourselves?
Felix: We can get happier and more productive! The research also found that “the plasticity of connections between the thinking and feeling regions of the brain casts doubt on the belief that each of us has a "set point" for happiness, and that neither a Powerball win nor a Sept. 11 tragedy budges it for long." If those connections can be strengthened in a lasting way, then we can shift that point.

Q: What does that mean exactly?
Felix: It means we can increase our capacity for happiness, fulfillment and for actualizing our own unique human and higher powers.

Q: And you teach people this?
Felix: Yes. In my book there are exercises in how to meditate and pray that bring results like this. I've integrated this new scientific confirmation into my book, in order to maximize the benefits of the new meditation studies. The prayer meditation sessions are clear and the visualization techniques are simple.

Q: Who's this book for?
Felix: My goal is to bring these tools for personal growth to each person, and finally to the corporations and institutions we serve. This method offers a unique method of combining the best of both prayer and meditation.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc . Robert Felix, author of The Partners Within, offers the healing power of prayer and meditation to overcome destructive emotions. Visit his website to learn more: http://www.partnerswithin.com and mailto:partners@partnerswithin.org.