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Mind-Body Medicine Expert Discusses the Power of Prayer and Contemplative Practice on Healing

On Thursday, Nov. 3, WCU's Center for Contemplative Studies will host Harvard University's Anne Harrington, who will talk about the intersection of mindfulness and medicine in "When Medicine Engages Spirituality: Why We Want That, Why We Worry." The discussion begins at 6 p.m. in Philips Autograph Library on the second floor of Philips Memorial Building, High Street at University Avenue. Free tickets are available.

Harrington will talk about scientific research related to meditative practices and how those practices and prayer might benefit health. Whatever their physical effect on health, simply using such practices might raise controversy in certain situations, especially if a medical professional suggests it. Harrington explores 15 years of efforts by health professionals to find ways to make use of the power of intention in mind-body medicine, and the controversies that arise.

Harrington is Harvard's Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science and director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of the History of Science. Author of many publications and several books, including The Cure Within: A History of Mind-Body Medicine, she researches relations between religion and medicine, and between the sciences and the humanities, in particular, the biobehavioral sciences (those sciences that deal with biological aspects of behavior, such as neuroendocrinology).

This is the first in the "Science, Spirit, and Health" speaker series, made possible by an anonymous donor, in which two noted speakers will visit West Chester each academic year. In March, Dr. Harold Koenig, director of Duke University's Center for Spirituality, Theology and Health, will further explore the connection between spirituality and health.

"This series is a way of becoming informed — by trusted experts — about such important topics as mindfulness, meditation, and prayer; the many roles of religion in healthcare; and the legal, political, and ethical dimensions of this approach," says Don McCown, co-director of the Center for Contemplative Studies and associate professor of health.