But what struck me on the list was “Church.” According to the article, “mindfulness techniques such as prayer and meditation have been shown to reduce some markers of inflammation and can help people suffering from inflammatory conditions.”
The article didn’t propose any reasons for the benefit of prayer. But a similar article in the New York Times from last Sunday may help. It noted that “for patients whose dementia is compounded by depression, psychotherapy that reinforces positive thoughts could be a safer alternative than drugs.”
The connection that I see between these two articles is their common interest in the impact that our mental states have on our physical well-being. To put the same point in more theological language, the state of our souls contributes, for good or for ill, to the state of our bodies.
And the conclusion that I draw, predictable from a priest, is that we should commit to practices that improve the state of our souls with the same kind of commitment that we apply to our bodies. We should think about what we consume, for example on television or other electronic devices. We should “exercise”, for example by praying and reading the Bible. And we should join with others who share our desire for a healthier soul, for example by worshipping together in Church.
The best reason for these practices is the chance to grow closer to God, of course! But it is nice to know that they may also help to reduce inflammation and stave off dementia at the same time!