MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

While working on yesterday’s post, I discovered another recent and remarkable article co-authored by Prof Harald Walach. It would surely be unforgivable not to show you the abstract:

The aim of this study is to explore experiences and perceived effects of the Rosary on issues around health and well-being, as well as on spirituality and religiosity. A qualitative study was conducted interviewing ten Roman Catholic German adults who regularly practiced the Rosary prayer. As a result of using a tangible prayer cord and from the rhythmic repetition of prayers, the participants described experiencing stability, peace and a contemplative connection with the Divine, with Mary as a guide and mediator before God. Praying the Rosary was described as helpful in coping with critical life events and in fostering an attitude of acceptance, humbleness and devotion.

The article impressed me so much that it prompted me to design a virtual study for which I borrowed Walach’s abstract. Here it is:

The aim of this study is to explore experiences and perceived effects of train-spotting on issues around health and well-being, as well as on spirituality. A qualitative study was conducted interviewing ten British adults who regularly practiced the art of train-spotting. As a result of using a tangible train-spotter diary and from the rhythmic repetition of the passing trains, the participants described experiencing stability, peace, and a contemplative connection with the Divine, with Mary as a guide and mediator before the almighty train-spotter in the sky. Train-spotting was described as helpful in coping with critical life events and in fostering an attitude of acceptance, humbleness, and devotion.

These virtual results are encouraging and encourage me to propose the hypothesis that Rosary use and train-spotting might be combined to create a new wellness program generating a maximum holistic effect. We are grateful to Walach et al for the inspiration and are currently applying for research funds to test our hypothesis in a controlled clinical trial.

 

19 Responses to Prof Harald Walach’s new ground breaking study of praying the Rosary

  • “Journal of Religion and Health” !?

    I guess it takes all sorts… to make a world 😒

  • As a result of using a tangible train-spotter diary and from the rhythmic repetition of the passing trains, the participants described experiencing stability, peace, and a contemplative connection with the Divine, with Mary as a guide and mediator before the almighty train-spotter in the sky.

    Surely the end of that should read, “…with Thomas as a guide and mediator before the almighty Fat Controller in the sky”?

  • Does Mr. Walach actually still have a real job with real work? Or is he suffering from acute boredom at the moment, so that he can churn out one bizarre study after the next?

  • Are you sure? Why not ocean-wave-watching? Flame-staring? Goldfish-observing? Cloud-eyeing?

    I fear, Edzard, you cannot judge train-spotting because it looks like you are not a fully trained train-spotter, and you are unaware of the basic concepts involved.

    Apparently you do not have too much experience in train-spotting, so you do not know about the frustrations and disappointments that often occur when an unwanted train appears on the scene. Or trains you have spotted before or when the mood is destroyed by opposing trains, by trespassers, by roadtraffic, by your competitors that already have spotted more fancy trains than you, by people asking why you do all this and shaking their heads …

    I fear, your study is about to fail if train-spotting is the recourse you are testing, because train-spotting is a nerve-wracking business if performed with just a minimum of zeal and commitment.

    • “you cannot judge train-spotting because it looks like you are not a fully trained train-spotter, and you are unaware of the basic concepts involved.”
      oh, how I hate it when I am found out!!!

      • Excuse me Doctor, perhaps birdwatching? Competitive but I believe more welcoming than trainspotting.

        • It is much more rewarding to observe the behaviour of birds than to tick them off a list as birdwatchers do. I speak as a keen wildlife photographer (have a look at my Facebook page if you are interested).

          • Anyone who watches birds for pleasure, even if all they are able to watch is a bird feeder on the balcony of their flat, is a birdwatcher. Some people are only interested in seeing rare birds: these are known as twitchers. Some are only interested in seeing a bird they have never seen before: these are known as listers. Most birdwatchers outside these categories find nothing more rewarding than observing bird behaviour, no matter how common the species. Dr Julian, do you ever take your photographs from a hide in a nature reserve? Do the other people in the hide really strike you as just ticking birds off a list? It is rather like a traveller who sneers at everyone except himself as ‘tourists’.

          • Ms Farmer,

            I am not sneering at anybody. jrkrideau was comparing birdwatching to trainspotting, with both activities involving ticking lists. I have no problem with that, but I think it is more interesting to understand their behaviour, their biology and how they interact with other organisms in an ecosystem.

            I am lucky enough to live in an isolated rural spot where there is a lot of wildlife immediately around me. It is a long time since I was last photographing birds from a hide in a nature reserve – I think it was over 20 years ago in the Gambia, a popular destination for twitchers as there are a large number of species concentrated in a small area. I managed to secure Clive Barlow as a guide that day (biologist and author of “A Field Guide to the Birds of Senegambia”). It was fascinating discussing his research into the behaviour brood parasites (birds such as the cuckoo which lays its eggs in other birds’ nests, as do bullbirds, coots and many others) in general and indigo finches in particular, and whether they were in the process of splitting into two or more species. We talked about gape patterns in the chicks mimicking those of the host species, and adult birds singing the songs that they had learnt from their hosts (usually zebra finches and firefinches) thereby preferentially attracting mates who had also been reared by the same hosts. He was complementing his field observations with DNA analysis. I think he enjoyed the day, too, as the people he usually showed around were mainly interested in seeing as many species as possible rather than learning about a few.

            I am not sure that sharing a hide is a very safe thing to do these days.

          • Yes, jkrideau did dismiss birdwatching as a list-ticking activity like trainspotting. I assume he is not a birdwatcher. As you clearly are, I couldn’t understand why you reinforced his use of ‘birdwatcher’ in this way, rather than correcting it.

            You are clearly an expert ornithologist, and I’m sure Clive Barlow enjoyed his conversation with you. The other visitors were presumably on holiday, with the chance to see amazing birds they would never otherwise see. In those circumstances any birdwatcher is likely to want to see lots of species rather than studying a few in depth. I fear you have not studied the birdwatcher in its native habitat, the local patch where it derives great enjoyment from observing the behaviour of birds it has seen many times before.

            Hides have been closed, but I think are now re-opening. They are normally well ventilated and are not usually too busy to allow social distancing, unless a rare bird has turned up.

          • Ms Farmer,

            I am hardly an expert ornithologist, but there is quite a bit of overlap between biology and medical sciences, so at least we spoke the same language.

            English visitors to the Gambia mainly fall into two categories. The first is the twitcher, and there were quite a few of those in our hotel, complete with extensive lists to tick off. The second is middle-aged women with Gambian boyfriends which are a great deal younger than themselves. The boyfriends usually go on to become husbands, which gets them a British passport and everybody is happy.

            I went there for a break shortly after my father died, and I had a colleague working there who was able to arrange several tours for me (mainly with a medical theme, but it was interesting to see how things were done with limited resources).

    • @Norbert

      Why not ocean-wave-watching? Flame-staring? Goldfish-observing? Cloud-eyeing?

      You left out watching soccer and waiting for the laundromat 🥱

  • We all know you are in the pocket of “Big Rail” 🙂

    • can’t I keep anything secret these days?

    • @Dull Spark

      We all know you are in the pocket of “Big Rail”

      That is a slanderous accusation!

      Edzard Ernst has done sterling work researching so-called ‘Alternative Time Tables’ in the British railway system! You know, time tables that pretend to tell you when trains go, but in reality are totally bogus, causing people to wait for hours instead of minutes.
      He was also the one who found out about Placebo Travel, where you get on a train which then appears to depart – only to come to a screeching halt a few miles down the tracks, and return to the point of departure due to “unforeseeable circumstances(*)”, giving the traveller the vivid impression of having made a trip without actually getting anywhere.

      * Usually bad scheduling on behalf of railway organizations, or deploying decrepit material that should have been upgraded or replaced long ago.

  • What about such effects caused by binge-watching series on Netflix?

    By my opinion, train-spotting is subject to too many contingencies that could disrupt the element of monotony, from delays and timetable changes to inclement weather.

    More care in choosing analogies, Edzard!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Recent Comments

Note that comments can be edited for up to five minutes after they are first submitted but you must tick the box: “Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.”

The most recent comments from all posts can be seen here.

Archives
Categories