Science Studies Prayer Power Healing
Prayer Is Good Medicine - A scientific study on the effects of prayer on healing
inspired by a visit to a hospital in India run by Sri Sathya Sai Baba and his followers
...doctors in the future to include spirituality in their prescriptions...
(Monitor and Actualization of Noetic TRAinings) at the Durham,
North Carolina, Veterans Affairs Medical Center....The study found
that angioplasty patients with acute coronary syndromes who were
prayed for did 50 to 100 percent better...Prayers were offered by
seven different religious groups...The prayers proved effective even
though the MANTRA patients didn't know they were being prayed for.
Yoga Journal, Jul 18, 3:18 AM
Prayer Is Good Medicine
Two researchers find merit to the idea that spiritual influences can have a
beneficial, physiologically measurable impact.
By Larry Sokoloff
Inspired by a visit to a hospital in India run by Sri Sathya Sai Baba and
his followers, two Duke University researchers are investigating the effects
prayer and other nonmedical practices can have on a patient's recovery after
Cardiologist Mitchell W. Krucoff and nurse practitioner Suzanne Crater were
amazed by the upbeat reaction of patients and staff at the Institute for
Higher Medical Sciences in Putta Parthi following the daily visits of Sai
Baba, whose followers worship him as an avatar, an incarnation of divinity.
In contrast to the lethargy and depression common in many hospitals, the
euphoric atmosphere at the Institute was overwhelming, Krucoff says.
Patients and staff were beaming throughout the researchers' visit. "God came
every day and made rounds and touched them," Krucoff says. "That kind of
atmosphere has got to have physiological impact."
After their visit, the two researchers wanted to test the idea that
spiritual influences could have a physiologically measurable impact. But how
do you measure the religious influence that they had witnessed? As Krucoff
says, "We couldn't scatter Sai Baba clones or Mother Teresa clones all over
the United States."
Instead, Krucoff and Crater wondered what would happen if prayer and other
forms of nonmedical treatment were offered to patients undergoing stressful
heart procedures. Would patients who were prayed for or taught to relax
benefit more than patients who were not? Their musings led them to begin the
MANTRA study (Monitor and Actualization of Noetic TRAinings) at the Durham,
North Carolina, Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Besides a group of patients
who had prayers said for them, three other groups were exposed to touch,
guided visualization, or stress relaxation. A fifth group served as a
control group and did not receive any prayers or treatments.
The most unusual part of the study-and apparently the most
effective-involved the healing use of prayer. The study found that
angioplasty patients with acute coronary syndromes who were prayed for did
50 to 100 percent better (in terms of heart rate, blood pressure, and EKG
results) than did patients in the control group. Patients who received
guided imagery, touch, or stress relaxation assistance also benefited,
showing a 30 to 50 percent trend toward improved outcomes.
Prayers were offered by seven different religious groups. Each group
received the same data: the name of a male patient who was undergoing a
catheter procedure, a stressful operation which involves threading a tube
into the heart while the patient is awake. The prayers went out from
Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and France, from Moravians in North Carolina,
and from Carmelite nuns in Baltimore who prayed during evening vespers. In
Jerusalem, prayers were inserted in the city's Western Wall by a Jewish
group. Fundamentalist Christians, Baptists, and Unitarians prayed as well.
The prayers proved effective even though the MANTRA patients didn't know
they were being prayed for, unlike the beaming patients in India who saw Sri
Baba at their bedsides.
A larger trial of 1,500 patients is now under way at hospitals in North
Carolina, San Diego, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma City. The larger study
will test whether the results can be repeated, and may influence doctors in
the future to include spirituality in their prescriptions.
Often called the First Lady of Yoga, Devi was instrumental in the global
diffusion of the practice.
By Helen Kitti Smith
Indra Devi, or Mataji, was often called "The First Lady of Yoga." In 1937,
Krishnamacharya admitted her into his school-making her the first woman
chela (pupil) and the first Western woman ever at an Indian ashram-and
personally supervised her asana and pranayama training. Towards the end of
the year he told her that she must teach.
From the 1930s until her death in 2002, she was instrumental in the global
diffusion of yoga, teaching in China, India, Mexico, Russia, and the United
States. In 1982, Devi was invited by a group of Sai Baba devotees to teach
in Argentina and did so for 15 years.
Today, Fundacion Indra Devi, whose six studios are scattered throughout
greater Buenos Aires, has seen some 25,000 students pass through its doors.
The IVth National Yoga Convention May 13-14, 2000, coincided with Mataji's
101st birthday. "You give love and light to everybody-those who love you,
those who harm you, those whom you know, those whom you don't know. It makes
no difference. You just give light and love," said this yoga luminary whose
practice toward the end of her life consisted only of Padmasana, Janu
Sirsasana, Ardha Sirsasana, and Ardha Matsyendrasana, but whose light has
shined on the whole world.
See also study details 11/9/1998 report, links to updates Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, at
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