We have started a series about the exciting research findings from Teleios! Our first evidence, presented over the last several weeks, was that peer-reviewed and Teleios sponsored scientific studies support improved wellbeing with Christianity in both healthy individuals and those suffering with disease! A list of potential benefits are found on our home page of our website (www.TeleiosResearch.com).
Today let us explore meditation versus church attendance. Why do that? The world constantly tries to replace God with something they consider just as good that is consistent with their goals. Their biggest desire is to replace God with the state where everyone is individually tethered to the government for their life’s sustenance.
On a more personal level, the world often encourages the practice of meditation as a help to wellbeing. We see this in advertisements, particularly from drug companies, who wish to depict people in some pastoral setting maintaining some impossible postural stance, supposedly taking the company’s new medicine, and enjoying good wellbeing! Of course, God or prayer would never be considered in such ads.
Further, meditation is frequently used in the medical literature as a secular method to increase wellbeing for patients and at the same time avoid suggesting or endorsing religion.1 However, surveys show individuals who attend church, at least occasionally, and the vast majority believe God exists. Our culture generally does not live in fields doing slow motion exercises as depicted on drug advertising. Accordingly, we reviewed the medical literature to compare the effect of meditation to church attendance on wellbeing in physically healthy subjects.
Our review included 37 articles and showed that several types of meditation practices, and church attendance of a variety of denominations, provided improved general wellbeing among physically healthy populations (http://stage.teleiosresearch.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/2016-06-25-Meditation-V1.pdf).
However, such a simple solution as replacing religion with meditation has several potential problems:
· Meditation is a religiously based practice derived from Hinduism.2 Therefore, the practice of meditation does not completely avoid religion.
· The long-term effect of meditation over a person’s lifetime has not been well studied. In contrast, historically, people that attended church their whole lives have done so without known general detrimental clinical effects.
· Meditation only is practiced by approximately 9% of individuals in the United States; whereas church attendance is a foundational institution in American culture, attended by 70% (at least once monthly to yearly).3,4
· Christian church attendance is associated with other specific findings, not associated with meditation, which might positively contribute to general wellbeing such as:
o Community service
o Confidence in a positive relationship with God based in a biblical definition of eternal life as a free gift through faith in Christ’s sacrifice.5-8
· Further, improved wellbeing is associated with adherence to the Christian walk.
o The articles we reviewed did not differentiate the quality of Christian practice of participants, as church attendance is only one activity. Teleios has shown those who adhere more closely to their Christian faith have improved wellbeing. Accordingly, such practices might lead to improved wellbeing over what meditation would allow. A well-designed prospective study would be needed to show this.
o In contrast, the several medical studies that have showed religion had no positive impact on wellbeing, the practice of the patients’ religion was internal (self-focused) much like meditation is by nature. Christianity at its heart is a service and love for others.
Our review of the medical literature suggests meditation and church attendance may offer a benefit to wellbeing. However, the complete practice of Christianity, which may include church attendance, generally provides better wellbeing than church attendance alone.
Please join me again next week as we continue to explore exciting results of Teleios’ research and what it means to our lives.
5. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of religious adherence to quality of life measures. Complement Ther Clin Pract 2013;19:251-5.
6. van Olphen J, et al. Religious involvement, social support, and health among African-American women on the east side of Detroit. J Gen Intern Med 2003;18:549-57.
7. Ryrie CC. Basic theology. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 1999.
8. MacIlvaine WR, et al. Association of strength of community service to personal wellbeing. Community Ment Health J 2014;50:577-82.
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