An interesting study.
"The study, published in the journal Circulation, suggests that when it comes to heart disease and clogged arteries, attending religious services or having spiritual experiences may not protect against heart attacks and strokes. "There's not a lot of extra burden or extra protection afforded by this particular aspect of people's lives," concluded Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, of the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, who led the study. In a review of data from nearly 5,500 people, Lloyd-Jones and his colleagues expected to see less risk for heart disease among those with more "religiosity." The researchers defined religiosity as participation in religious activities, prayer or meditation, and spirituality, regardless of denomination. They did not report the religious faiths of study participants. Over the course of four years, those in the study had 152 events related to heart disease or clogged arteries, including 9 deaths, 42 heart attacks, and 24 strokes. That rate of such events -- less than one percent per year -- was lower than in the general population, which the team expected because they excluded people who were already diagnosed with heart disease and related conditions. However, neither the rate of heart disease events, nor the number of certain risk factors -- such as high cholesterol, diabetes, and high blood pressure -- differed among those who were more or less religious or spiritual."
While I have stated on this blog I am not religious in that I don't follow one set of religious doctrine nor do I attend church, I do take some issue with this study in that I have found the practice of meditation, whether it be while I am cooking, taking a walk, playing my piano, doing yoga or simply sitting alone in a quiet place quieting my mind and tuning in to the higher frequences of my being does have a positive effect on my physical body. Regular practice, I believe, certainly can lower heart rate and, with other lifestyle changes, improve if not totally reverse heart disease.
The authors of the study chose not to share the particular faith of the study participants. That's unfortunate because that could possibly lead to the rather questionable results. My guess is that the vast majority were Christian or Jewish or Muslim or one of the other more guilt-induced, restrictive religions, and that these folks attended regular church services, where they were fed religious script as interpreted through the eyes of another human being proclaiming to know God/Jesus better than his/her congregants, followed up by large but typically subtle doses of religious guilt, which goes something like this: "We are to strive for perfection. We are to strive to be like God. Be like Jesus. However, since you will never obtain such a goal, you must come back next Sunday again, empty your $$pockets$$ and listen to me speak all over again. And remember, anyone claiming to have reached that state of perfection is under the influence of our good 'ole scapegoat, Satan."
Such exposure sets up a duo inside our already over-burdened state of consciousness and awareness, over-burdened due to the dysfunctional disease of societal conditioning which tells us we're not good enough, not worthy, must prove ourselves and blah blah blah. This duo results due to the societal programming which is in direct conflict with our authentic voice, which knows we're wonderfully worthy (not better than others for that is pure ego - just precious and wonderful at that inherent level) as we are and we don't have to prove our worth or for that matter, anything to another soul, human or otherwise. Meditation and/or religious practice and exposure to those who follow the same inner conscious awareness most definitely can have a positive and profound effect on the physical body.
So sayeth I. And don't worry. I won't ask you to fill the money basket.