Richard G. Petty, MD

Spirituality and Health

“From its source to the sea, the river represents a hierarchy. We find this same hierarchy in ourselves, from the source, which is our divine Self, all the way to the physical plane. If we wish to drink pure life, we must detach ourselves from the lower regions of the physical, astral and mental planes and seek water in the high mountain peaks within us: in our soul and spirit." Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov (Bulgarian Spiritual Master, 1900-1986)

This is part of a delightful quotation that is well worth your consideration. I received it on January 9th from Prosveta : I signed up with them some time ago to get daily messages. Aïvanhov is one of a number of spiritual teachers who should be better known. If you click on the "Some of My Spiritual Classics" button on the left hand side, it will take you to a list of books that I put together on the Amazon website. I would suggest that you let your intuition do the walking: see if there is something calling to you.

This leads me to one of my central preoccupations, and that is the relationship between spirituality and health. Before I tell you my own views about this relationship, I would also like to tell you about a wonderful resource, and that is the website of the magazine Spirituality and Health. This, together with What is Enlightenment and Magical Blend , are the only three magazines that I always read from cover to cover.

So first of all, what is spirituality? There are dozens of definitions for something that may truly be impossible to define using language designed for describing the external world and for communicating a limited repertoire of our internal states, feelings and opinions. I feel it most simply as the Transpersonal, the One, that underlies the Universe.

Ken Wilber, whose work I admire enormously, has collected the five most common definitions in one of his most outstanding books, Integral Psychology:

1. Spirituality as the highest levels of any of the lines of development through which we can pass

2. Spirituality as the sum total of the highest levels of the development lines

3. That spirituality is a separate line of development.

4. Spirituality is an attitude

5. Spirituality is to do with experiences that can come about from prayer, meditation, devotion, love and so on.

Which definition you prefer, or even if you have a separate one, depends very much on your own temperament, upbringing, understanding and experience.

If you have any interest in these topics, and if you have not already discovered Ken’s work, you will probably enjoy reading him. He puts a lot of his material on the Internet for free and has a terrific website.

The reason for wanting to spend a moment on definitions and some resources, is that apart from personal experience, there is a great deal of convincing research into the relationship between having spiritual and/or religious beliefs and engaging in spiritual and/or religious practices, and in the maintenance of health, prevention of some illnesses and even in the effectiveness of prayer. I am going to analyze and review any new research that I see, as well as invite correspondence about this important topic.

I was a huge skeptic about prayer and healing, but no more. I review articles that have been submitted for publication to a number of major medical journals. The editors say that I am a bit of a “hawk.” If there’s a mistake, I am usually good at finding it. Several years ago I was sent a study of the influence of distant prayer on the recovery of patients in a coronary care unit. I was certain that I would find a flaw in it, but after three days of intense work, I had to conclude that the paper was sound. And it is now one of many. There is really good scientific evidence that prayer works, whether or not the recipient even knows that he or she is being prayed for.

When I had a health problem a few years ago, I recovered in record time. I do not know whether it was the superb medical care, or the fact that I used homeopathy and practiced qigong every day, or the three prayer circles that were involved in my care. My guess is that is was the combination of all of them. And that leads to a final point for this entry: there is overwhelming evidence that new laws of healing have been emerging over the last century, and the key to working with them is to use the leverage and synergy of combinations of treatments: Combinations Are Key

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About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

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