The next health breakthrough: Where will it come from?

A Christian Science perspective: It may be time for a deep dive into thinking about prayer that is scientific, based in divine law.

Rolling her eyes, my neighbor described a health breakthrough she’d read about. She was mirroring the same attitude of hope with reservations that many have when they hear those ads promoting the latest treatment for diseases.

Of course the draw to breakthroughs is great. Everyone wants to be well.

Attempts to find health solutions often start with less invasive methods – restrictive diets, lifestyle changes, mindfulness meditation. Others hope in a prescribed regimen of meds or in a new technology. The need to be well keeps us looking.

Yet, instead of bringing assurance, physicians’ critiques of current practices are increasingly causing tremors. For example, a recent article, “Heralded Treatments Often Fail to Live up to their Promise,” concludes that the verdict is still out on many new drugs and procedures. And an article by Luis Collar, MD, critiques with a breathtaking – some might say bewilderingly honest – view of current allopathic practices. He cites the need for more rigorous, scientific thinking, unaffected by economic demands or status-quo positions. A Business Insider article cites research proving that gluten sensitivity, the concern that propels 30 percent of Americans to buy gluten-free foods, actually doesn’t exist. Maybe in a bid to allay dismay, that article opened and closed with a cheer for science: “It works.”

But cheer or not, the fact remains that the scientific thought process that impels researchers does “work.”

It is producing more voices in biological, neurological, psychological, and other types of research, all looking at thought processes that govern the body in more depth than ever before, including expanded use of mind-body, and even spiritual, techniques.

Humanity has always individually explored spiritual methods, but research into how spiritual thinking offers added health value is a relatively new phenomenon. And considering spirituality and science together in the same context is even more cutting edge.

But that focus isn’t new. When Mary Baker Eddy published that Jesus was “the most scientific man,” she explained – and proved in healing outcomes – that his cures were based on the power of God as the divine Principle or Cause. She concluded: “He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 313).

Her research included spirituality and science in the same context. Many today have concluded that the spiritual qualities of compassion, tolerance, joy, gratitude are health-giving. Improved physical well-being is now widely recognized as linked to spiritual thinking and living. A pivotal question is, Is this linkage a provable science?

Years ago I was not looking for a linkage between physical well-being and spirituality but for spiritual meaning in my troubled life. Then in my early 20s, while in a hotel, I suddenly collapsed in paralysis and extreme pain. Without sight or speech in a condition later identified by a medical intern as imminently fatal, I could only listen as my husband held me and read from Science and Health, a book which he’d recently found. What happened next stunned us both: I felt a deep peace, and all symptoms immediately stopped. Intuitively I felt that here was a dependable, unconditional Love that I wanted to understand. It was a science to learn and live (see Christian Science Sentinel, April 12, 2004).

A scientific prayer-practice that leads to more positive health outcomes? It may be time for a deep dive into thinking about prayer that is scientific, based in divine law. What if everyone can learn scientific laws that define God and life’s inherent health? If it is the next big health breakthrough, who would want to miss it?

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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