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J Altern Complement Med. 2004;10 Suppl 1:S15-23.

Transformative practices for integrating mind-body-spirit.

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Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, Stanford University School of Medicine, Redwood City, CA 94061, USA.


This paper explores the clinical use of transformative practices that arose from the varied religious traditions of the world. Examples include prayer, meditation, mantra, affirmation, tai chi, and yoga. The purpose of these practices was to lead the practitioner to long term spiritual transformation toward an enhanced awareness of spirit, and a corresponding diminishment of identification with the mental and physical aspects of life. Unfortunately, the vagueness of the definition of transformation demonstrates that it is a broad and diffuse multidimensional concept difficult to quantify and resistant to rigorous research. However, these spiritual practices, offered as interventions separate from their spiritual tradition, have begun to be evaluated to document their effect on psychological and physical well-being. Currently, there are a number of well-designed studies that attest to the health-enhancing and suffering-reducing benefits derived from religiously transformative practices. There also is research, although sporadic and mostly on forgiveness, slowly emerging to show that prosocial positive emotion skills can be taught, and when measured, demonstrate benefit. Randomized trials of transformative practices are needed to help all levels of the health care system focus their attention on the manifestations and effect of the care delivered.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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