Thanksgiving and Health: an everyday relationship

@Glowimages: Pumpkins


Maybe we’re getting it wrong.

I overheard someone say one Thanksgiving Day, “You know, there should be 364 days a year of thanks-giving and one day for griping.”

Now there’s an idea.

With each passing year, it seems like the Thanksgiving holiday faces stronger and ever earlier competition from the Christmas consumerism so aggressively urged upon us.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the true meaning of Christmas.  But when holiday shopping ads start the week before Halloween, the gratitude that should accompany the approach of Thanksgiving tends to get drowned out.

© Glow Images

© Glowimages

Thanksgiving Day is too special to let that happen.  And giving thanks needn’t be relegated to a single day, or even to a season.  It’s something we can do every day of the year.  In addition to having us identify the good in our lives, which can help ward off the depression that we hear is more prevalent at this time of year, gratitude has been shown to be beneficial in other ways.

In fact, the health-giving effect of acknowledging blessings has been so widely studied and proven, it can literally be said that gratitude is good medicine.

A WebMD article by Elizabeth Heubeck called, “Boost Your Health With a Dose of Gratitude”, begins:  “What would happen if we extended the tradition of giving thanks, typically celebrated just once a year during the holiday season, throughout the entire year?”

She quotes from a WebMD interview with Dr. Robert Emmons, Ph.D., professor at the University of California, Davis, considered a leading expert on gratitude.  He says that reduction of stress and enhancement of our immune system are two health-giving benefits of a grateful state of mind.

But what if it seems like we have nothing left to be grateful for?  Like refugees from war torn regions who have lost “everything” or when events in our lives make us feel devastated.

Could it be that it’s especially in the face of dire circumstances that gratitude can lift us up and help heal broken hearts and even broken bodies?

That is what I have been finding as a Christian Science Practitioner.  I pray daily for healing in my life and others’ and I’ve found that being grateful before I see improvement – when it seems there’s nothing yet to be grateful for – can work wonders.  I learned this from the Bible.  It’s a method Jesus used more than once.  

Perhaps the most dramatic example was when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. After Lazarus died, he was placed in a cave and by the time Jesus arrived, he had already been mourned for four days.  Despite that vivid evidence of a hopeless situation, he stood in front of the cave-tomb and practiced thankfulness.  Jesus prayed to God out loud:  “Father, thank you for hearing me.”  Then he called to his friend.  And Lazarus walked out of his own tomb.

True, we are not often called upon to raise the dead.  But could that example apply in our daily lives?

I’ve found it can.  I’ve noticed that the more consistently I give daily thanks – without making it just a ritual, so my heart’s still in it – the more natural it is to do so in a difficult situation.

Recently I pulled a leg muscle and was in a lot of pain.  In seeking healing that night, I lingered on deep gratitude for God’s goodness and for the blessings in my life which I attribute to God.  I continued being grateful, even when I woke up in the middle of the night still in pain.  By morning my leg was much better.  By the next day it was completely normal.

Year-round thanks-giving?  It’s definitely a healthy and satisfying to go!

Our declining belief in death

@Glowimages: Cemetary Cross


The recent Oprah Winfrey (OWN) series, “Belief”, stirred up an international conversation starting with the question:  “What do you believe?”  It’s important to be able to answer that.  What do we trust in?  What do we have unshakeable faith in?  My California colleague, Eric Nelson, says that even such a universally held belief as death is being challenged.  Here’s Eric…

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain,” wrote Ben Franklin to his friend Jean-Baptiste LeRoy in 1789, “except death and taxes.” Had he written this today, however, it’s not at all certain that death would have made the cut.

Of course, no one knows for sure what happens when we die (well, no one who’s still with us), but there are quite a number of folks who feel they’ve perhaps gotten a glimpse, calling into question the very notion of death.

After falling into a weeklong coma, Eben Alexander, author of the New York Times best-selling book “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” found himself keenly aware of the fact that, as he puts it, he was loved, that he had nothing to fear and that he could do no wrong. This was pretty heady stuff, especially for someone who had always assumed that the brain – an organ that, in Alexander’s case, had completely shut down due to a rare infection – was the source of consciousness.

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Getting more out of your fitness workout

@Glowimages: Woman jogging on forest path

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

“Ah, Mr. Young, I see you ride your bicycle in order to keep fit!”  “No,” replied Mr. Young, “I ride my bike because I am fit.”  For Mr. Young, fitness was something that he used physical activity to express, rather than to get.  My Ohio colleague, Steve Salt, helps us see that our path to fitness has a spiritual connection, above today’s conflicting health theories.  Here’s Steve…

Remember the Royal Canadian Air Force 5BX (Five Basic Exercises) Plan?  Hugely popular in the 60’s, it was simple to do, but boring as heck.  I remember my dad struggling with sit-ups and tediously running in place.  It wasn’t long before his exercise regimen was history.  To stick with an exercise routine, one needs a compelling reason for doing it….

My favorite fitness activities are walking and hiking.  But more than a physical fitness hiker, I consider myself a ponder walker.  I like to think in stride, not going over my to-do list or rehearsing some past conversation, but appreciating the moment and silently expressing my gratitude for the many blessings I have experienced.

I have found that turning attention to my spiritual and mental life is immensely important as it pertains to health.  Taking into account my “inner” life has an impact on my “outer” or physical being, because it is the quality of my thought that affects the harmony of my body….

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Ready to Give

02MIGRANTS-2-jumboMy Arizona colleague, Rich Evans, explains the spiritual underpinnings of giving unselfishly.  From personal experience, he describes how practicing the Golden Rule can be an effective response to the current refugee crisis.  Here’s Rich…

Budapest. Munich. Bodrum.   These beautiful, historic places have become symbols of unanswered global questions about our moral obligations to mankind.

This question is just as important here in the Southwestern US, as anywhere.

Seeing reports of masses of refugees fending for themselves at Keleti railway station in Hungary, having just escaped the chaos of warfare, begs many questions and demands serious thought.

“There, but for the grace of God, go I”, could be a natural response.  But what is the grace of God?  To me, it’s the inspired effect on human behavior of understanding God’s universal love.  Such boundless grace must hold answers for each individual, oppressed or free, in conflict or at peace, in Syria or Arizona.

We could, of course, simply view these challenges as someone else’s problem.  But we have a track record of doing better than that….

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Why caring about Cecil the lion is good for our health

@Glowimages: Lion (Panthera leo) sitting in a path, Okavango Delta, Botswana


I live not far from the Minnesota dentist/big-game hunter who killed a treasured African lion by luring him out of his protected national park, wounding him with an arrow and then tracking him for two days before finishing him off with a gun.  My British Columbia colleague, Anna Bowness-Park, helps us understand that the uproar (pun intended) caused by this kind of brutal slaughter, indicates a moral shift that can have profound effects on both societal and individual health.  Here’s Anna…

The senseless killing of Cecil, the nationally beloved lion in Zimbabwe by an American big-game hunter has provoked a media storm of angry protest and controversy.  Closer to home last year, Cheeky, a grizzly bear beloved by the First Nations who shared his territory, was shot and killed by an unapologetic NHL hockey star.  This angered First Nations’ people as well as many other British Columbians.

But the critical newspaper articles and social media frenzy in response to what has been historically a commonplace practice – i.e., hunting – indicates that these instances (and others) have awoken something in our hearts.  Is it that the senseless killing of creatures for nothing more than the purpose of sport is beginning to make less and less sense as we grow in our understanding of the connectedness and value of all life?…

Cecil and Cheeky may be rallying points for public anger, but there is no doubt that the moral compass regarding how we treat each other and the animals with whom we share this planet is undergoing a major rethink in Western society.  But does it have any staying power amid our flighty attention spans?  I think it does, especially as we begin to understand that how we treat each other and our fellow creatures is essential to both individual as well as universal health.

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Are you having a near-life experience?

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

The famous John Lennon quote, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” makes us question if we’re really living in the present.  Have the ever-increasing speed of life and the growing options technology provides caused us to opt out of appreciating today?  Wendy Margolese, my north of the Minnesota border colleague up in Ontario, shares some practical and healing insights to help our day-to-day experience become more real and satisfying.  Here’s Wendy…

The pace of life has picked up speed – and most of us feel like we are always running to catch up.  Some days pass in a blur of phone calls, text messages, and kids’ activities – maybe all at the same time!

Author Max Strom has coined the phrase ‘near-life experience’ in his recent book, ‘There Is No App for Happiness’.  This type of life is characterized by experiences we are not completely engaged in and present with; a life that leaves us feeling that something is missing despite how busy we are.

Advances in technology have led to constant connectivity to information and to people.  Although this has brought some good things into our lives (I can Skype with my family living in another country), statistics say we do not feel a sense of satisfaction in life.  If anything, we have become dissatisfied; and stress has become a constant companion.  And that’s not good for our health.

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Celebrate religious freedom on the Fourth of July

@Glowimages: The Statue of Liberty, New York City, United States of America with the Stars and Stripes flag in the foreground



















My Southern California colleague, Don Ingwerson, reminds us that a big part of why we celebrate our independence this weekend, is freedom to practice the religion of our choice.  That idea often gets drowned out by fun and fireworks.  And the prayer that’s at the center of religion can bring freedom from sickness.  Here’s Don…

Is July 4 just a day for barbecues, friends and family?

It seemed that way to a friend of mine a few years ago at an Independence Day neighborhood gathering. He was surprised to learn that most of the children attending didn’t know why they were celebrating….

One of the bedrocks of our country, which many other nations tragically lack, is the commitment to religious freedom we have maintained through the years. Yet I have learned such commitment requires fresh renewal with each generation. We can’t take for granted that all our citizens will understand and appreciate this crucial component of our history, nor recognize how vital it is that it should continue.

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Empathy: crucial for effective healthcare

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

Can the caring at the heart of healthcare sometimes seem to get lost?

Many think it does, as classic family physicians have been increasingly replaced by time-constrained, clinical specialists.

Among doctors, such caring used to be called a “good bedside manner”.  And after more than a generation of specialized training focused on medical knowledge and technical acumen, the value of empathy is being re-discovered and taught as an essential skill.

It improves the experience of both patients and doctors when medical professionals express clinical empathy, according to the Kaiser Health news service.  The patient feels understood and cared about, has a better outcome and is more satisfied.  The doctor in turn gets a better rating, faces less risk of malpractice suits and experiences decreased burnout.  The whole system is benefited.  (SeeEfforts to Instill Empathy Among Doctors are Paying Dividends.”)

I too have learned how powerful empathy can be, in my journey as a practitioner of Christian Science healing.  But I view it from a slightly different angle.  To me, empathy for patients is not just a technique to show you understand another person’s emotions and share their feelings.  Rather, it’s at the core of our desire to help one another.  As children of a loving Creator, the capacity to care for each other is innate in all of us. Continue reading

PTSD Treatment: Symptoms or Souls?

@Glowimages 022319.


News reports on the current state of American veterans are beyond devastating — over 10 times more veterans have been lost to suicide than to combat operations in the same time period, at a rate that’s averaging 22 suicides per day!  My Virginia colleague, Richard Geiger, shares examples of treatments that go deeper and have more success than the standard drug-based, symptom-focused ones.  Here’s Rich….

After the showing of “American Sniper,” the audience around me at our local theater—perhaps like at yours—remained silent.  Long minutes passed before people quietly rose and shuffled out.

I think we were sharing heartbreak.

We were sharing an urgency for dominion over combat trauma called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  The number of affected veterans and families is growing.  And, as many dedicated care-givers work to find solutions, one fact is emerging:  one method of treatment does not fit everyone….

“The need for non-drug treatment options is a significant and urgent public health imperative,” says NCCIH Director Josephine Briggs, MD.  Urgent, because the need for cure is growing, and also because conventional drug treatments aren’t working over the long haul.  In many cases, drug dependencies are created instead–without any real cure in sight.

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…

Re-thinking our self imposed limitations

Man inside a  bubble

© GLOW IMAGES (model used for illustrative purposes only)

The first words in my Twitter profile are:  “Breaking free of limits!”  So, I’m delighted to share this inspiring story from my British Columbian colleague, Anna Bowness-Park.  She tells how a shift in her mental approach freed her from fear and pain; and transformed what could have been a disaster into a “spiritual adventure.”  Here’s Anna….

Canadian Olympic gold medalist Adam Kreek was not happy.  A new member of the team was a better rower than him, consistently beating him at races.  Although annoyed, Kreek was also curious.  What made this young rower more successful?  So, over coffee he asked the question.  The response was surprising.  “I seek failure,” said his teammate.

Expanding this idea in an entertaining and thoughtful TedX Talk in Victoria in 2013, Kreek went on to explain his teammate’s comment.  Imagine yourself with a bubble around you.  That bubble is your self-imposed limitations; how you see your abilities and what you believe about your capabilities.  Kreek stressed that breaking through that bubble is the first step to understanding our true abilities.  It is a vital part of understanding how we unwittingly limit ourselves in every avenue of life, including our health.

What was interesting, was that Kreek’s teammate did not talk about diet, fitness or modern technology as what helped him be a better athlete.  He talked of a mental app; if you like,  a change of thought about how he sees himself….

This is something I learned in a small way that forever altered how I see life….

Please click here to read the rest in its original context…