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Expat wanderer

Prayer Reshapes Your Brain

This is a very small excerpt from a much longer article I found on National Public Radio News, a special series on The Science of Spirituality. This article (you can read it all by clicking on the blue type, above) talks about measuring brain activity while a person is praying, how the brain changes. Fascinating stuff.

A Sense Of Oneness With The Universe

Newberg did that with Michael Baime. Baime is a doctor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Tibetan Buddhist who has meditated at least an hour a day for the past 40 years. During a peak meditative experience, Baime says, he feels oneness with the universe, and time slips away.

“It’s as if the present moment expands to fill all of eternity,” he explains, “that there has never been anything but this eternal now.”

When Baime meditated in Newberg’s brain scanner, his brain mirrored those feelings. As expected, his frontal lobes lit up on the screen: Meditation is sheer concentration, after all. But what fascinated Newberg was that Baime’s parietal lobes went dark.

“This is an area that normally takes our sensory information, tries to create for us a sense of ourselves and orient that self in the world,” he explains. “When people lose their sense of self, feel a sense of oneness, a blurring of the boundary between self and other, we have found decreases in activity in that area.”

Newberg found that result not only with Baime, but also with other monks he scanned. It was the same when he imaged the brains of Franciscan nuns praying and Sikhs chanting. They all felt the same oneness with the universe. When it comes to the brain, Newberg says, spiritual experience is spiritual experience.

“There is no Christian, there is no Jewish, there is no Muslim, it’s just all one,” Newberg says.

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May 23, 2009 - Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, Interconnected, News, Spiritual

3 Comments »

  1. I’ve checked out a book on that topic called HOW GOD CHANGES YOUR BRAIN: BREAKTHROUGH FINDINGS BY A LEADING NEUROSCIENTIST by Andrew B. Newberg. It looks fascinating!

    Comment by Sondy | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  2. Interesting.

    Comment by jewaira | May 27, 2009 | Reply

  3. Your brain changes with its many activities. If the religious decide to pair up such brain reaction with that of the supernatural just so that you can convince some more weak-minded believers who are doubting, be my guest. It’s just a bit low (but then again, the crusades, the flat earth theory, the inquisition, and the child rape have been even lower).

    Thank goodness we still have logic, common sense, and critical thinking. Otherwise we’d be as diluted as the religious!

    Comment by godblows | December 31, 2010 | Reply


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