• Share
  • Read Later
What's free, could improve health care for all Americans, but is not part of congressional debate? Prayer. That's the conclusion of religious leaders, theologians, spiritual leaders and even world-class physicians who gathered at a Boston conference this week to compare notes on the effectiveness of prayer and meditation for treating physical ailments. The consensus: it can lower breathing rates and heart rates, and even prevent the need for surgery. Harvard Medical School professor Herbert Benson, founder of the Mind/Body Medical Institute at Boston's Deaconess Hospital, tells TIME's Christine Gorman that prayer has been particularly noteworthy in cardiology. "Benson, who has been establishing a scientific grounding for the power of prayer, found the technique alone can lower a person's blood pressure ten points," Gorman notes. "Prayer will never be a panacea or a replacement for modern medicine, but it's becoming increasing clear that meditation can have a profound impact on the body."