Episode 26: Religion and Health: Harold G. Koenig, M.D.

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A lot of us wonder whether religion and spirituality lead to better health, happiness and longevity. Can prayer cure illness?  Can we pray for people and make them better? What are the benefits of meditation? Today we have someone uniquely qualified to answer these questions. 

Harold G. Koenig, MD, is on the faculty at Duke as Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Associate Professor of Medicine. His research on religion and health has been featured on The Today Show, ABC’s World News Tonight, and Good Morning America as well as NPR and the BBC.  He’s written many books, among “Spirituality in Patient Care” and “Spirituality and Medicine.”

Some of the questions Dr. Koenig answers are: 1) Why do deeply religious people recover from depression more quickly?  2) How does mindfulness meditation make people feel more peaceful? 3) Are people who just want to be “spiritual” not getting the healthful aspects of religion?

Transcript

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David Debin Hello and welcome to the Third Age with the doctor and the man from Hollywood. I’m David Debin, the man from Hollywood, and the doctor is Peter Brill, M.D. As you know on this show we turn the myths of aging upside down. We sort out the scientific and trendy, the medical and the cultural and we’ll tell you everything you need to know about living in the Third Age. Remember. We guarantee if you listen to us you’ll never grow old.

Peter Brill: I’m the doctor, Dr. Peter Brill. The third age usually starts somewhere between 45 and 50. It’s a time when you start to feel a stronger desire for deeper meaning and fulfillment in your life. Your first age is childhood. Your second age is building career and family. The third age is a major change or transition to a whole new set of problems, values, opportunities and gratifications. So join us as fellow explorers in this journey to discover what brings passion, purpose and joy into this uncharted time of life.

David Debin: We have a very fascinating show today, something that we talk about all the time. A lot of us wonder whether religion and spirituality lead to better health, happiness and longevity. I’ve heard that question a lot of times. Can prayer cure illness? Can we pray for people and make them better? What are the benefits of meditation? Today we have someone uniquely qualified to answer these questions. Harold G. Koenig, M.D. is a professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University. He’s got a new book, it’s called Spirituality and Medicine, and it deals with the most basic questions of spirituality, health and longevity. Dr. Koenig’s ideas may alter how you pray and what you pray for. Really, this is a very accomplished man with many, many books, been on all the major TV shows and so if you have a question about is your spirituality affecting your health in one way or another this is the time.

Peter Brill: So David, what does spirituality mean to you?

David Debin: Spirituality to me means everything that involves being connected to other people on a deep level. It could be religion. It could be prayer. It could be meditation. It could be reflection. It could be just the act of looking into somebody’s eyes and listening to what they’re saying. As long as you find that there’s a connection there, because when you get really deep into connection with somebody that you’re listening and that you’re talking to there’s a connection that goes beyond even that. It goes to the next interchange, to the next person and the person after that and the person after that. You don’t have to connect with everybody in the world at once, but if you do connect, really connect on a deep, deep level with one person, you will be connected to a lot more people in the world.

Peter Brill: You know, in some profound way we are connected to all of you out there. We are connected by our desire to help people in this stage of life come together and find a deeper truth, a deeper purpose to their life. Something that moves them, that makes every day special. That is one of our connections to you. Our first step, and we have seven steps that we work on with people when they come to our workshops or we work with them in groups or coaching or whatever, we have seven steps and the first one is to find that level of spirituality that exists within you. That place that maybe music touches, that maybe poetry touches, that maybe the beautiful, beautiful light on a leaf makes your heart sing, all those things are spiritual. All those things connect you to life and to the world. And that is where you must start your journey in the Third Age.

David Debin: I think that’s the message that we all hear when we talk about change. When we hear people running for office talking about change, I think what they’re talking about is a lot of policies and a lot of policy differences but the change is we want to stop this divisiveness between us here, in this country, in this world and that’s where a spiritual outlook, a spiritual awareness in life is important. We’re not going to have change unless we desire to connect with others and see others as part of ourselves. Otherwise we’re just going to stay on own side, on one team or another team. And that’s not going to get this world anywhere.

Peter Brill: And it all starts with just a single little bit of effort on each of our parts to deepen our empathy and to make one little step each day to try to understand others better. Anyway, David…

David Debin: Talking about one little step…I thought this might lighten up the proceedings but I’m not sure…

Peter Brill: We have to give you your big intro. Time for the news story…

David Debin: This came to us from London. A hearse overturned when the horses pulling it to a south London cemetery stampeded, stampeded, dragging the carriage and the coffin past appalled relatives and sending floral tributes flying. Can you imagine that?

Peter Brill: I’ve never imagined a stampede with only one…I thought a stampede was plural.

David Debin: Well there were several horses pulling…Not a one horse stampede. A mourner told the London press it was dreadful, “The horses dragged the carriage through the cemetery on its side, tossing the coffin all over the place and destroying all the flowers inside.” That’s a question. You come for a memorial service, you’re in a very spiritual mood and all of a sudden this takes place. If you get furious or if you laugh or if you take some other attitude, have you lost the spirituality in the approach to the memorial service? That was my question when I read this. And they said some people got very angry and had to be restrained by other mourners.

Peter Brill: Because they were laughing.

David Debin: Well, they were horrified that something could happen. Police were called to calm angry mourners so that the funeral last month could go ahead. So you know there’s a thin line between spirituality and anger in a situation like this.

Peter Brill: Or spirituality and conformity or spirituality and the expectation of people behaving in a way that is prescribed. And you know, the person isn’t damaged, the ceremony’s not damaged, the horses are not damaged. Hopefully.

David Debin: If it were me, I would love to have that scene going on. If you showed it in a movie, nobody would get angry…

Peter Brill: I hope they’d laugh themselves silly. The sadness of life is there all the time potentially. A moment to laugh makes everything brighter.

David Debin: how ‘bout that?

Peter Brill: There we go. That’s for sure. Or even visit our website, www.thirdagefoundation.com

David Debin: Our guest today is Dr. Harold G. Koenig. He’s on the faculty at Duke as professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. He’s also an associate professor in medicine. His research on religion and health ahs been featured on The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight and Good Morning America as well as on NPR and the BBC. He’s written many books, among them Spirituality and Patient Care and the newest one, I believe is Spirituality and Medicine. Welcome to our show Dr. Koenig.

Dr. Koenig: Thank you David.

Peter Brill: He’s the first one who’s ever identified you by voice!

David Debin: How about that! He takes things in when he hears them. A lot of people just want to talk about their own stuff.

Peter Brill: I guess so. Well, you had a question

David Debin: I wanted to ask you, well first of all…how are you there at Duke University? You didn’t get involved in that lacrosse thing did you?

Dr. Koenig: No I wasn’t involved, I’m thankful to say and things are going well here.

David Debin: Good. It sounds like a fabulous place to be. It’s beautiful, beautiful campus. A beautiful school. Your newest book is Spirituality and Medicine, am I correct about that?

Dr. K oenig: That is correct.

David Debin: When you wrote this particular book what did you set out to learn?

Dr. Koenig: Well, the book mainly is summarizing what research has been done over the last hundred years, looking at the connections between religion, spirituality and health and summarizing some of the research that we’ve done at Duke as well as other people’s research.

Peter Brill: Maybe you could give us the key three or five things that are most important to come out of that.

Dr. Koenig: Well I think one of the most important factors is that many people turn to their religious faith when they are coping with a stressful circumstance. That this is a way that people make sense of trauma and tragedy and that gives them a sense of comfort, of peace and it reduces the stress of the experience that they’re going through.

Peter Brill: And there’s good medical evidence of that?

Dr. Koenig: There is good research showing a connection between religious involvement and mental health. Better mental health, better coping with illness, with stress, with tragedy. There is plenty of research showing that connection.

David Debin: Is this the chapter that’s called No Atheists in Foxholes?

Dr. Koenig: Could very well be the name of the chapter!

Peter Brill: How about depression? Does depression respond the same way?

Dr. Koenig: We’ve done a lot of research here at Duke looking at depression and the medically ill. The medically ill. And we find that those that are more deeply religious they recover more quickly from depression when you follow them over a period of six to 12 months. In fact, there are several. We’ve done at least three studies showing that finding in samples of up to close to a thousand patients.

David Debin: And have you found out why that happens?

Dr. Koenig: Well I think there are many reasons why religious involvement helps people, particularly those with medical illness and those with physical health problems to cope better. One is that it gives them a sense of meaning and purpose in their life despite the fact that they’re sick and ill and perhaps dependent on others. It gives them a sense of hope. They believe that there’s a loving God that cares about them. They have a faith community that may be praying for them, visiting them, encouraging them. It just gives a whole different way of viewing the difficult circumstance that, even if a person dies, then they’ll have eternity in heaven and that sense that even death cannot defeat a person and that there are better things ahead. That is something that gives people hope. As well as the hope of being healed.

Peter Brill: So does that differentiate by religions or religious traditions? Say the Buddhists that don’t see an afterlife. Would they not have the same effect?

Dr: Koenig: Well, I don’t know the answer to that question since because we don’t have that many Buddhists here in Durham North Carolina.

Peter Brill: Oh, we got a lot of them out here in California.

Dr. Koenig: We’re all Baptists out here. We’re going to have to do some studies of Buddhists to determine that. But it does look as though Buddhism, at least meditation, mindfulness meditation, which derives from the Buddhist religious tradition, does help people to feel more peaceful, if they’re able to do it regularly. My problem in trying to meditate is that I just have trouble doing it. I’m just not self disciplined enough, I start thinking about other things, and I start thinking about my bills and everything and then I get off the track and I end up worrying more. In any case, those who do it and do it as part of the Buddhist religious tradition I think they do derive benefit from that. Of course, more research is needed.

Peter Brill: Has there been any cross-cultural studies of looking at religions without afterlife? Is the afterlife the key component of it?

Dr. Koenig: Well, I’m not sure if … well, it’s certainly a component of it. But in fact there is recent research that shows that simply belief in an afterlife, that is not good enough. That does not produce the benefit. There has to be more to it than just belief. There has to be a religious commitment behind the belief that involves more than just believing in something.

David Debin: Say that again. I want to hear that again. Because when you said it has to be more than belief in something hereafter I was thinking, does it have to have 32 virgins or…what else is there?

Dr. Koenig: Some of them do, that’s right. Belief is not enough. You can believe almost anything. It’s more the effect that the belief has in your life and transforming it and affecting the way you relate to others, the way you relate to your kids, to your wife, to your colleagues, the way you treat people, how often you pray and how often you read the Bible or whatever it is that you’re reading. The Koran or the Baghdad Vita or the Jewish bible. How is your lifestyle integrated in your faith? If it’s just a belief that has no effect on your life it will have no effect on your stress level either.

Peter Brill: Let me ask you this question. We all know very religious people that can be very mean. We all have seen them, would you agree with that?

Dr. Koenig: I would agree.

Peter Brill: So has there been any attempt to differentiate between those whose religion causes them and their commitment to their religion causes them to treat other people with compassion versus those who don’t and do they have equal benefit from religion?

Dr. Koenig: Well, that’s a really good question. We’re really at the beginning of studying this phenomenon. We have very kind of gross measures of religious involvement. How often do you attend religious services, how often do you pray, how deeply do you tell us do you feel about your religious faith? We have very crude measures of this and I don’t think we can really… I would guess that people who are mean, who don’t follow who love thy God with thy whole heart and soul, love thy neighbor as thyself, those who get off from those tracks that they’re not going to be doing as well. The thing is that many people who are mean by themselves, regardless of religion, they are unhappy and they seek out religion as a way of making life better. But religion sometimes doesn’t completely transform everyone and so then they’re left with their meanness and then that’s lived out in their church and they make life miserable for everybody.

Peter Brill: We have a lot more to talk about. This is very exciting, especially since it’s so empirically based and based on good science. It’s wonderful. We’re going to be right back. We’re going to talk a lot more. We’re probably get into prayer and a bunch of other things. Stay tuned.

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David Debin: I am David Debin. I’m back with The Third Age on the radio here. I have been praying for the commercials to be over so that we can get back to Dr. Harold Koenig

Peter Brill: I’m not sure our sponsors share your view.

David Debin: It comes from a spiritual part I’m sure they would understand. I didn’t cut them off, I was just praying to get back to Dr. Koenig. His new book is Spirituality and Medicine. And we’re talking about the effect of spirituality or religion on health, on longevity and how people feel and react to things.

Melissa: I was wondering, do you have to have a specific religion to have it equate with longevity or is it more just spirituality based?

Dr. Koenig: Well, that’s a very good question. Is there any research that shows you which is the healthiest religion? It’s a very complex answer to that question. First of all most research, probably 95% has been done in Christians, so we’re kind of stuck with the fact that our population has been Christians. There are a few studies though that have been done in Jewish populations. I’m aware of one study that’s been done looking at blood pressure in a Muslim population and there is a study of Buddhist priests. And in each of those studies there appears to derive benefits. Now which religion is the healthiest there is no study yet that has compared religions and it’s probably have to be done internationally, comparing Christians in the United States, with Buddhists in Japan, with Muslims in Iraq…

Peter Brill: Too many confounding variables.

David Debin: I think that question goes to…in order to have our spirituality, help us in being healthful and live long lives and overcome obstacles, does it have to be a prescribed religion, is what I think she might have been getting at, not as opposed to one religion as opposed to another. But as in a feeling of feeling connected and loving your fellow man without a specific religion behind it.

Dr. Koenig: Okay David. I can answer that question. There is no evidence that people outside of an established religious tradition who consider themselves spiritual have any better health than anyone else. There’s no evidence for that. The evidence exists in studies that look at religious practices, that are based within religious traditions, a religious tradition, and these people are devout in their practice, and are following the rules in their religion and they derive health benefits. We don’t know whether people who have decided that they are spiritual, whether that has any effect at all on their health.

Peter Brill: We don’t know that it doesn’t though. We don’t know one way or the other, right?

Dr. Koenig: But Peter they are in the groups that are doing less well compared to the religious people.

Peter Brill: I see. Very interesting. Now is there a selection factor involved?

Dr. Koenig: Now say that again. Explain that a little bit.

Peter Brill: You could have people who choose to stay in religion have other lifestyle issues that are, for example smoking is very related to some religious practices, alcohol to very religious practices, drug taking I know is not very related I guess from one of your studies with religious practices for kids. Are there other ancillary things that could be affecting it?

Dr. Koenig: It’s actually a very good point you’re making. There are basically three ways by which religious involvement affect health. One is through the belief system, a specific belief system that is positive, and not all are positive, but the positive elements in a religious belief system seem to be health producing. The social aspects, the not only the receiving of support but the giving of support to others seems to have these health benefits. The health behaviors, as you’re describing, the not drinking, the not smoking, the living a more conservative sexual life, being married and staying faithful to your spouse, those abiding by those rules do have health benefits and so sometimes though people want to be spiritual and they don’t want any rules. And if that’s the case then what they’re eliminating from the religion is the health producing elements of it.

Peter Brill: Is there any evidence of longevity in religion or is it just all the intermediate stuff of better mood, lower blood pressure under certain circumstances?

Dr. Koenig: Well Peter, you know, I think that most of the research that’s been done, shows that even when you control for the mental health, the social factors, the health behaviors, you end up with about a 25% reduction in mortality during a period of follow-up. Even after you’ve tried to control for those factors. I personally think, though, if you could really control for and measure accurately the psychological, the social and the behavioral that you could explain all of it, because I really think that’s all we can really study. We can study how these psychological, social and behavioral factors extend longevity through religion, which is kind of a big package of things but we can’t prove that there’s anything more than that, anything supernatural. That’s just beyond science.

Peter Brill: I understand that, I just was looking at what factors might be involved. Can we switch topics? How about prayer? What’s the evidence about prayer?

Dr. Koenig: Studying prayer is really difficult.

Peter Brill: We wouldn’t want your life to be easy.

Dr. Koenig: It’s difficult because when people get sick, when they get depressed or they get sick or they get anxious they turn to prayer, they pray more and therefore when you’re trying to look at these correlations you find well, the sickest people are praying the most. Well, does that mean prayer makes people sick? No, it doesn’t? So it’s more difficult to study. We have been able to show in one study here at Duke, that people who prayed, older adults who were healthy and who prayed, they actually did over a six year period, have about a 50% increase in their likelihood of survival.

Peter Brill: Wow. Does it matter what they pray?

Dr. Koenig: Again, you’re talking about Durham, North Carolina so they’re praying to the Baptist god.

Peter Brill: Are you from North Carolina?

Dr. Koenig: I’m from California.

Peter Brill: I won’t ask you what you pray for!

Dr. Koenig: I’m from Northern California.

David Debin: Northern California! Well then we do know what you pray for! What about this concept of praying for others? I think I read that you found that it made no difference in a person who was seriously ill whether they recovered or not if other people prayed for them.

Peter Brill: If they didn’t know and they didn’t know the people they were praying for.

Dr. Koenig: Yes. I personally believe that if you pray for someone, that something happens, that there is a result of that. That’s my personal belief. But I do have to say I’m very negative on the intercessory prayer studies that you’re kind of bringing up. The intercessory prayer studies are studies that are trying to use science, use the scientific model, to prove that there’s some kind of a supernatural intervention going on when we pray for others. Now I think those studies are destined, from the very start, to fail. To try to put God in a box, and say okay…probably this doesn’t make sense unless you know what these studies do. What they do is they’re double-blinded studies…

Peter Brill: This is going to be too complicated for this segment. We’re going to have to wait to find out what double blind is and what the results of prayer are. So if you keep praying out there maybe we’ll come back for another segment and you can hear the answer. So stay tuned, we’ll be right back.

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David Debin: Welcome back to the Third Age. This is David Debin, the man from Hollywood. I’m with Dr. Peter Brill, the man from Mars and the woman from Venus is Marissa Scolvasi. We’ve been talking to Dr. Harold Koenig, who’s written many books, been on many shows that you’ve probably even seen. His latest book is Spirituality and Medicine and we’re grilling him now about prayer.

Peter Brill: So, we were in the middle of a double blind study here.

David Debin: Catch us up on that, Peter, so anyone who just came in…

Peter Brill: We were studying about prayer and you said how difficult it is…you were describing a double-blind study about prayer?

Dr. Koenig: Yes, I’ll try to make this quick. The double-blinded studies involved…You may have a thousand patients who are having open heart surgery and 500 of those patients are randomly assigned to either a group of people who are praying for them or to a control condition and then they’re followed after their…

Peter Brill: What is the control condition? They pray for their neighbor?

Dr. Koenig: The control condition is that they’re just not getting prayed for by this particular group of people in the study who are doing the prayer intervention.

David Debin: But they can pray for themselves, right?

Dr. Koenig: They can certainly pray for themselves, their family can pray for them, their friends and doctors and nurses. But they are, according to the study design, they’re not getting prayer from this group of people who really don’t know the people in the study. They may be located a hundred, two hundred, a thousand miles away from where the study’s taking place. The people who are being prayed for don’t know whether they’re in the “pray for” group or the control group. And so it’s double-blinded neither the patients who are getting the prayer know that they’re getting prayed for and the people who are praying for those patients are blinded -- they don’t know who they’re praying for. So somehow I think the study is trying to show that God sorts all these things out and the ones that are getting the extra prayer, bear in mind that the patients in the control group are getting prayer but they’re just not getting prayer from that group. It’s more of a test of whether additional prayer makes any difference during the particular timeframe of the study which may be three months, may only be one month.

Peter Brill: And you were saying it’s hard to get God to act in a single month?

Dr. Koenig: It may be very well. You could see that many of these studies don’t find any difference and the reason isn’t because the intercessory prayer doesn’t work. The reason is because the scientific tools that are used to test that were not designed for studying supernatural phenomenon. They were designed for natural phenomenon, like testing the benefits of a drug or things like that.

Peter Brill: Marissa has a question for you about prayer.

Dr. Koenig: Okay.

Marissa: Do you think that prayer works because it’s kind of like writing a mental or positive note and that’s like your only goal so you focus on that one goal and eventually because you’re focusing so much on it it’s eventually going to happen, because you make it happen but you don’t really think about it in that way. I don’t know if that’s making sense.

Dr. Koenig: Well, it does make sense. I think that what you’re describing is more like positive thinking. I think prayer involves having a relationship with God, interacting with God in a way like you would interact with a friend, or with a parent. A developing a relationship with God, kind of regardless of what happens, a coming close to God and when one prays to God and develops that relationship somehow the outcomes just happen and if they don’t happen then it’s okay.

Peter Brill: Let me ask you one other question about this. It’s a little related topic. I’ve been reading a lot lately about people who witness from a distance someone that they know right at the moment when they’re injured or some person they’re close to. Do you have a feeling about any of that? Do you know what I mean? Somebody has a car accident and the mother just has a feeling right at that moment.

Dr. Koenig: That’s a fascinating phenomenon. I think that when my grandma died my mom experienced a bird in her window and she knew that something had happened. Many people have these experiences. I couldn’t even begin to try to explain or understand how that happens.

Peter Brill: I know. It puts all of our science to the test, doesn’t it, because William James had a group in the United States that studied this very extensively in great depth and they concluded there was a phenomenon there. They had multiple witnesses and all kinds of things in order to qualify as an actual event but it’s clear that our current science, if that’s true, our current science and our way of understanding how information is transmitted, something’s wrong with it.

Dr. Koenig: Something is wrong with it or at least it can’t capture some of these phenomena like we’re talking about. It’s just, again, the science that we have today was designed to look at, to examine and to understand natural phenomena in this physical world that we’re living in.

Peter Brill: Or within the context of how we understand the physical world.

David Debin: I know who we need to call. Ghostbusters! I have a question. What about this thing where we all get together and pray for world peace? Do you think that has any affect on anything?

Dr. Koenig: When we all get together and pray for world peace I can tell you that it brings us all closer together and it sets into motion all kinds of things that we may not be able to really track down. For example, you get together with a group of people and you pray for world peace and you’re with other people and therefore you are more, you begin to treat perhaps people a little more peaceful. You feel more peaceful and you treat others a little better. That then sets into motion those other people then probably treat other people in a more peaceful, kind, loving manner and it does, potentially, set waves into motion that can generate peace in the world. The more of us that do that, and the more of us that are affected by that, together I think could have the potential to make changes in the world. Now of course there are other massive forces against peace in the world that that’s coming up against.

Peter Brill: Dr. Koenig, I really want to thank you. We’re running out of time here. I really want to thank you for being on the show and may we pray for world peace and may it all come true. Thank you very much for joining us today.

David Debin: We’ll be right back.

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David Debin: Welcome back to the Third Age. David Debin here with Dr. Peter Brill. We’ve been talking to Dr. Harold Koenig about spirituality and health and well-being and medicine and talking rather extensively about the power of prayer and the power of the awareness that you’re connected to a greater sense of the world. What do you think? What did you get out of it?

Peter Brill: Well I think that there are several points. One is clearly having meaning and purpose in your life are extremely important and religion is certainly a route through which many people find that. I think the second thing is that the health practices that result from leading a good life are very important to us for longevity and to health. And I think the third thing is that relationships you form make a huge difference in your life. Your happiness and your longevity.

David Debin: I like the idea that even a scientist, Dr. Koenig, believes that if we get together and pray for peace that there’s a possibility, that there’s energy in there that goes out to others and starts to have a momentum of its own.

Peter Brill: I don’t think there’s any question that the way we influence each other and our future is very complex. And certainly our intention and our efforts and our putting deepest part of ourselves together with others with some purpose makes an enormous difference.

Melissa: I also think religion helps you feel that you’ve not alone in the world. Like you have that community who will support you and be basically your family throughout whatever you’re going through. I think that’s also a really important aspect because if you go to church or whatever else you do, if you have that religion then you know that you have people who also have your same common interests at hand and I guess you’re told and taught that you’re supposed to be there for one another, be a family.

David Debin: And if you’re not going to be in church on Saturday, February 23 come to our workshop at Antioch University which will also be spiritually reinforcing and will you show you the steps that we’ve devised to have a more joyful third age, to not feel stuck, to feel like you’re free.

Peter Brill: Help you live longer, be happier. We were talking to Dr. Koenig about it and he was happy with all the steps. One other thing we’d like to ask of you is Third Age, part of bringing this show on the air are people who contribute to the Third Age Foundation. You can do that by going to www.thirdagefoundation.com and there’s a thing there and you can contribute $10, $25 whatever you can contribute will help us continue to do the work of this foundation.

David Debin: If you contribute $20 you get a free book. With no shipping and handling charges. We’re talking about real, real spirituality here without shipping and handling.

Peter Brill: Without shipping and handling. But we can certainly use your contributions to carry on our work. It’s partly how we support all of our work in terms of helping people change the myths of aging, helping people live longer and helping people find out a way to have a happier life.

David Debin: And also if you enjoy listening to the show, keep us on the air. 969-9794 or www.thirdagefoundation.com. Well that’s about it. This has been great. I’m going to go home and I am going to get into some serious prayer. What I don’t know is if I’m going to go back to religion though. Dr. Koenig said that there’s no evidence that just spirituality without religious practice…

Peter Brill: But there’s no evidence against it either. And what it probably is as he points out is a mixed bag. A lot of the people that went into spiritual paths got in there through maybe drug or other kinds of usage and that’s certainly not going to help their longevity.

David Debin: Although I’ve heard, that’s true, and I’ve heard that AA or any of those 12 step programs are the most successful spiritual programs.

Peter Brill: Well there’s a huge effect in terms of people giving up drug and alcohol use by using spirituality.

David Debin: And acknowledging there’s a greater power is what part of that is and that makes a difference.

Peter Brill: We want to thank Les Carroll, Sharon Hill, Lisa and tune in next time, or next week, for another journey into the Third Age.

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