For many religious muslims, praying is not necessarily a big deal. Engaging in consistent salah is pursued for the sole purposes of making Allah happy as well as bringing peace and contentment into an individual’s life. However, did you know that praying also benefits your mental and physical health as well?
Yes, you heard me right! In a study conducted by Dr. Lisa Miller, a renowned psychologist from Columbia University, it was found that people who prayed regularly had thicker cortices. For clarification, the cortices are the outer layer structure of the brain, and cortical thickness is found to be correlated with a high IQ. The cortices, when thinned out can lead to mental illness, especially depression.
Praying, as has been scientifically proven and as personally experienced by myself, is a very spiritual experience that can help you in a number of ways. Individuals can learn a number of things that include self gratitude, understanding of your existence, and most of all, it helps put your life into perspective.
While praying in itself is a very spiritual experience, it would be an object of interest to illustrate the added health benefits of prayer in the Islamic tradition. In this article, I have listed down 10 ways praying will benefit your physical and mental health!
Prayer Makes You a Better Person
Praying is an act of religious activity where the aim is to please God Almighty. When a person prays, he or she automatically tries their best through their actions to become a better person. By that, I mean not lie, hurt anyone, be kinder, etc. And collectively, all of these actions are conducted in an effort to please God, therefore humbling an individual with their sense of purpose.
It is important to realize that every religion teaches us these basic core values, but within Islam especially, the concept of prayer goes beyond these basic laws. Islamic prayer motivates a person to not be greedy and give out to the poor, which helps a person not become materialistic or too engrossed in the material affairs of the world.
Prayer Improves Your Physical Health
A Muslim has to pray five times a day. There is a specific way they have to pray that involves some physical activity. Be it the bending of the knees in ruku, or the prostration of the body in sujud, prayer in the Islamic tradition is an active process. Each action of the prayer is great for blood circulation and your body parts. So when you hear a prayer call, signifying prayer timings for Muslims, go quickly as it will not only improve your spiritual being but your physical health too!
Imagine getting up five times a day, specifically for the morning prayer call when the sun is coming up. This gives you a better sense of routine and helps you become active for the better part of the day as well. For a point of comparison, the Islamic prayer is similar to that of yoga, which is also a form of meditation and prayer, sharing similar yet less comprehensive benefits.
Prayer Increases Your Lifespan
This might come as a shock to some, but it is true. Praying can possibly increase one’s lifespan! Allah has truly given humanity the ultimate medicine to prolonging life! How cool is that?
Given the above stated material, many are wondering how praying increases one’s lifespan. However, it can be claimed that prayer does so by reducing one’s cortisol or stress levels, and improving your body’s health by keeping you active through physical exercise five times a day. All in all, prayer will help one live a happy, active, and healthy lifestyle, which will only prolong your lifespan.
Prayer is Beneficial for Blood Circulation
The actual form of praying is well known for improving blood circulation, which helps regulate your heart better and eventually reduces one’s stress levels as well. When you go into the ‘sajdah form or the prostration form, it is the best form of exercise for you due to the abundant circulation of blood in your head.
Prayers Can Make You a Happier Person
According to a study conducted by Dr. Andrew Newberg, praying regularly makes a person happier. Why? Well, one can theorize that it makes a person motivated with a sense of peace knowing that he or she has pleased God. As humans, we love that we can make someone happy, and making someone happy often makes us happy. And when coupled with the fact that in Islam the ultimate goal is to worship Allah, an individual is much better able to understand their purpose.
In fact, in the abovementioned study, Dr. Andrew Newberg states that praying increases the levels of dopamine in your brain, which makes an individual a happier and more peaceful human being.
Prayer Helps you with Post-Surgical Recovery
Many studies have found that prayers can help in quick surgical recovery. It is often recognized that prayer helps with the healing of surgical scars quicker as compared to when you are not praying. Why is that? This may be due to the fact that when one is praying, it relieves stress, thereby helping an individual with a quicker healing process.
Prayer Saves You from Depression and Anxiety
A number of individuals are sometimes met with the answer that they should pray in response to mental health issues that they are dealing with [such as depression, anxiety]. To which some individuals get annoyed, however, it is true that if you are a true believer and pray, it will help you with your depression and anxiety.
According to a UK-based study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, “praying can reduce your risk of developing depression and anxiety.”
Prayers Keep You Away from Chronic Diseases
Prayers are also a great way of helping individuals with chronic diseases such as ulcers, headaches, migraines, hypertension, and even diabetes. Given the fact that many of these diseases can often be tied to internal stress as well as overall lack of mental health well being, praying can help to alleviate these diseases. This is simply due to the positive feeling praying gives to the worshipper.
Prayer Gives us a Positive Outlook on Life
If you believe in religion, a common motif that is present is the concept of hope. It can definitely help to have a positive outlook on life, because when an individual believes in pleasing God almighty, it leads one to believe in his ultimate plan and to deal with all the worldly affairs not so seriously.
A number of issues occurring within this world can put us in a hopeless position. But the belief in God and his plans can give us hope in dealing with all the things that go wrong and the courage to do the right actions within this temporary world.
Prayer Reduces our Stress levels
Last but not least it is important to realize that everything within our entire lives is planned by God, and that you can only accept and believe in Him and His doing. This knowledge will help us reduce stress and deal with our personal and professional life situations that can often stress us out.
Unfortunately, in the current contemporary paradigm, individuals have been sadly putting prayer and religion on the back end. Yet with a plethora of recent studies that have come out, scientific evidence has presented the public with data to prove that it is beneficial for humans to worship a supreme being. It is with the sincerest intentions, that this article helps to motivate everyone to become better Muslims and engage in consistent prayer.