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A first-of-its-kind clinical trial recently demonstrated that meditation is as effective as an antidepressant drug to treat people with anxiety disorders. Inadvertently, this study sparked questions about the impact of Christ-centered spirituality that is at a higher level than simply the practice of meditation.
Since living life in the Holy Spirit is more powerful than human-centric meditation or what is known as "guided mindfulness-based intervention," then it's logical to deduce that taking hold of the healing power of Christ through a relationship with the Holy Spirit may show even greater effectiveness at reducing anxiety.
The authors of this clinical study, which was published in JAMA Psychiatry, did not intend to hint at a message through the results that people have a need for the Holy Spirit to eliminate anxiety. But it did reveal a need—a very significant need—which is often filled by antidepressant medication.
Do you ever wonder what would happen if more people turned their (anxious) hearts over to Christ and invited the Holy Spirit into their lives for a mindset transformation to address their anxiety? Would that be a step ahead of meditation?
But there are virtually no incentives for the established institutions of society to recommend a Spirit-filled life as a means to reduce anxiety.
In an age when Big Pharma pushes drugs for profits, the mere suggestion that mindfulness-based meditation or submitting to the Holy Spirit by faith is as effective or superior to mood-altering drugs sounds like "heresy" to the medical establishment.
However, this new study clearly shows that "right thinking" changes a person's anxious mindset, triggering an emotionally positive shift and release from debilitating fear. The underlying connotation is that, when a person fills their mind with "truth," the negative habitual thought patterns are disrupted, weakened and, ultimately, replaced.
Findings in the clinical study reflect data on 102 adults treated for their anxiety with a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program and 106 patients who received 10 to 20 mg of Lexapro, a common antidepressant drug that was first introduced to the market in the late 1980s.
"Our study provides evidence for clinicians, insurers and healthcare systems to recommend, include and provide reimbursement for mindfulness-based stress reduction as an effective treatment for anxiety disorders because mindfulness meditation currently is reimbursed by very few providers," says lead study author Elizabeth Hoge, the director of the Anxiety Disorders Research Program and associate professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University.
While the world comes to the conclusion from this randomized clinical study that meditation may be the answer, charismatic Christians know from experience that flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit is much more effective than meditation, which is typically transitory and subject to ups and downs by the minute.
The lack of a study comparing "life in the Spirit" with antidepressant drugs is glaring and possibly unfeasible by today's "scientific" methods, but the inferences from a clinical study comparing meditation to these same drugs still point to the impact that "truth" has on a person.
The authors of the study explained, "Problematic habitual thought patterns characterize anxiety disorders, and mindfulness training specifically focuses the mind on the present moment; thus, individuals practice seeing thoughts and sensations as merely transient mental phenomena and not necessarily accurate reflections of reality."
The term "accurate reflections of reality" is another way of saying "truth." Focusing on truth, or in a biblical sense, the Truth, pushes away anxiety-causing thoughts, increases spiritually uplifting experiences and exposes the lies that demonic forces float into people's minds as a way to control them.
Fear gives a demonic force a foothold in a person's life, causing a rise in anxiety. It can only be combatted by faith through the working of the Holy Spirit.
As most church pastors know, anxiety is often a spiritual issue (albeit, with exceptions, some people may have a chemical imbalance and need medical treatment, but if meditation is just as effective for other people, it conveys an observation that not everyone requires antidepressant medication just because they experience ongoing anxiousness).
Are more people taking antidepressant drugs for symptoms that could be reduced and/or eliminated through meditation (on God's Word) or a full-on baptism in the Holy Spirit? What has less adverse side effects—taking antidepressant drugs, or praying in tongues and declaring the Truth of the Word of God over your life?
Rather than "seeing thoughts and sensations," a believer living life in the Holy Spirit sees beyond the natural and into a realm of reality where God operates and makes all things work for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. The believer taps into the force of "by the stripes of Jesus, I am healed."
Despite this better biblical path, the researchers who did the study are pushing mindfulness-based meditation, however.
"A big advantage of mindfulness meditation is that it doesn't require a clinical degree to train someone to become a mindfulness facilitator. Additionally, sessions can be done outside of a medical setting, such as at a school or community center," Hoge says.
Neither does training a person to come into the power of the Holy Spirit for healing require a clinical degree to become a spiritual mentor, teacher or friend. Sessions to experience the Holy Spirit are also done outside the medical setting, even though God still uses Spirit-filled doctors to focus on what is best for each person to free them from the bonds of anxiety.
Logic leads to the conclusion that taking antidepressant medication is not always the answer for everyone at all times. A little bit of faith can open the spiritual "medicine cabinet" of Christ the Healer and result in changed lives that are sustainable in freedom from anxiety.
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Anthony Hart is a freelance writer for Charisma News.
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