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Monday, November 27, 2006

M.D.: Hugs, Prayer May Be Just What the Doctor Ordered

Larry Dossey, M.D., bestselling author and expert on the connection between health and spirituality, says there is a lot we can do to stay healthy this holiday season. He's not referring to cold medicines, doctor visits or flu shots. He's talking about ordinary things that are good for your health. In his latest book, The Extraordinary Healing Power of Ordinary Things, Dossey cites a number of "ordinary things" that are healing, such as music, prayer, nature, optimism, touch, and even risk taking.

Relying on anecdotes, personal history, and scientific data, his research on an emerging image of consciousness addresses how we can meet our inner needs alongside those of our physical bodies.

Consider this:

Recent studies show that people who follow a religious practice -- it does not appear to matter which -- live significantly longer (seven to 13 years) and have a lower incidence of most major diseases.

A survey of more than 1,000 physicians showed 59 percent prayed for their patients, while 42 percent encouraged their patients to pray. (Dossey refutes a recent Harvard study regarding the ability of prayer to heal and cites the JACM- Achterberg study that tracked effects of prayer using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging analysis, showing prayer to have proven effects on health.)

"Spirituality has a legitimate role to play in the future of American healthcare," says Dossey.

A survey of nearly 2 million patients involving 1/3 of the nation's hospitals found that one of the lowest patient satisfaction ratings was in the area of the emotional and spiritual aspects of care that they experienced when they were hospitalized.

"So, this holiday season, as the cold and flu season goes into full swing, a warm hug or a heartfelt prayer might be just what the doctor orders," says Dossey.

On Friday, Dec. 1, at 7:30 p.m., Dr. Larry Dossey will speak at the Washington National Cathedral on the topic "Healing Between Spirit and Medicine."

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Cathedral College of the Washington National Cathedral and the Washington Society for Jungian Psychology.

Dossey is a former internist and chief of staff of Medical City Dallas Hospital, the former co-chair of the Panel on Mind/Body Interventions for the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines at the National Institutes of Health, executive editor of the peer-reviewed journal, Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing, and the author of 10 books on the role of consciousness and spirituality in health.

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