Babka Vanda’s grandmother claimed to be able to heal people with just a whisper. The local priest forbade her from treating people until one day a snake bit the priest. Vanda’s grandmother whispered words into the wind, and just like that, the priest was cured and she was allowed to heal people again.
As a teenager in Ghana, George Mwinnyaa fell seriously ill. After sacrificing three chickens to the gods, he miraculously healed. Now a student of public health at Johns Hopkins University, he doesn’t think it was the sacrifice itself that saved him. He thinks it was the act of giving thanks.
People are enamored with music. It touches our souls in profound ways that words alone cannot equal. It stirs our imagination, invigorates our bodies, and transforms our moods. It can lift us up or overwhelm us with emotion. It can make us feel down in the dumps or over the moon. It can pump us up, and it can calm us down.
Sigmund Freud once said, “Dogs love their friends and bite their enemies.” He praised their honesty and pure nature. Freud’s most famous dog, Jofi, would sit with him during therapy sessions. Originally Jofi was there because she helped Freud relax. But soon Freud noticed that Jofi’s presence would also lift the spirits of his patients.
Almost everyone who has owned a pet knows the experience of bonding with an animal. For many pet owners, these animals become our friends and family members. According to research over the last few decades, these animal human relationships can improve our health. Since the 1980s, we have known that having a connection with an animal reduces blood pressure. Contact with animals has also been shown to reduce stress hormones, which allows our bodies to heal faster. Animals are also believed to increase oxytocin, which is a hormone related to feelings of love and trust. This may be the reason that animals aren’t just good for our physical health, but also good for our mental and emotional health.
Image adapted from: Greg Westfall, License: (CC BY 2.0)