The recent cover story of Time Magazine (Feb,. 23, 2009) is called “How Faith Can Heal Your Life”. It states that science and religion argue all the time, but they increasingly agree on one thing: a little spirituality may be very good for your health.

Most people believe in a larger universal force and can call It by many names. People around the world pray in different ways – whether it is in a community of common believers, silent pleas for help or in thanksgiving or any communication in between. History has shown that people turn to their faith when they experience hard times in their own lives, or if disaster strikes such as on 9/11.

We flex our spiritual muscle when we pray for peace or for the new president.; we meditate for serenity or relief from hardship; we ask for things we think we need and want to make our lives better; we do affirmations for wealth; we travel on pilgrimages to Lourdes or go to Mecca to show our devotion. However, there is nothing we ask for more than health. For without our health, we cannot do and be all the things we want to experience in life.

Not surprisingly, there is a growing body of scientific data that suggests that faith may, indeed, bring us greater health. According to the Time Magazine article by Jeffrey Kluger:

- People who attend religious services on a regular basis have an additional 2-3 year life span than those who don't

- People diagnosed with an illness who believe in a loving, healing God, often recover better than those who believe in a punishing, vengeful God

- Those with AIDS studied by the University of Miami for the connection between HIV management and religious beliefs, show that spirituality predicts for better disease control.

Dr. Andrew Newberg, a professor of radiology, psychology and religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania, has done numerous studies of brain function and spiritual activity. His new book entitled, “How God Changes Your Brain”, offers evidence of changes in brain function and structure as a result of regular spiritual practices such as prayer, meditation and worship. The brain actually changes shape.

Meditation plays a key role in spirituality as it is the quieting of the mind and body that allows us to find peace and to slow down in our hectic world. Prayer is speaking to God and meditation is creating a quiet space to listen to the response.

Doing acts of kindness for others also contributes to health and wellness. A recent study showed that 90% of people said helping others gives them a “Helper's High” or feeling of exhilaration following an altruistic act. It relieves stress and pain, too.

Maintaining a positive attitude through the good and bad times also is a determining factor of good health. Neal Krause, a public health expert at the University of Michigan, suggests through his studies that people who keep a sense of gratitude for what is going right in their lives have reduced incidence of depression. His further studies show that people who believe their lives have meaning live longer than those who don't.

Here are 5 things you can do to improve your health by adding some spiritual practices to your life:

1. Create a time and place to meditate in your life in order to slow down, de-stress and connect with something larger. Use guided meditation CDs or other forms of uplifting contemplative materials.

2. Consciously look for ways to serve others – By focusing on the needs of others and actively doing acts of kindness you will experience the helper's high and feel great and at the same time reduce stress and pain.

3. Find a spiritual community to join that fits into your religious beliefs and go regularly. There are many to choose from if you take the time to look around for what suits you and your loved ones. If you already belong to a faith community, you are likely to live 2-3 years longer than those who don't.
When the time feels right get involved to find ways to serve.

4. Be consciously aware of negative mind chatter and neutralize it. You have thousands of thoughts going through your head every day. Often this negative chatter keeps you playing small in life and sabotages your doing great things in the world. Make it a point to monitor your thoughts and when you catch one being negative, throw it out and replace with a positive affirmation or feeling of gratitude. You have the power to kick out the negative thoughts!

5. Pray regularly – Not just when you need something. You can carry on an internal conversation with God or your higher self throughout the day. Ask for help, share frustrations and joys. Make this connection a regular ritual and your coping skills will increase and your stress will decrease.

There is growing evidence of the connection among prayer and health. Consider how you can improve your health, lengthen your lifespan and be more balanced. By introducing these and other personal spiritual habits, you will see your life change before your eyes - even if you are sometimes down on your knees.

Author's Bio: 

Rev. Barbara Rogoski is a spiritual teacher, Reiki practitioner, professional speaker and author. She teaches down to earth meditation, inner wellness at work and speaks and writes about spirituality in business and corporate consciousness. You can visit Barbara at her two websites: or