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What happens in our brains if we’d consistently pray or meditate? What happens if we’d consistently meditate or pray to maintain gratitude and to seek enlightenment and for healing for ourselves and for others?

Words, such as God, have different connotations or meanings for each individual. So, first off, this post is about spiritual experiences and not necessarily about divinity. However, I am using in this post a video that focuses on prayer and its benefits. Since large numbers of people are spiritual but not theistic, I want to use a comprehensive definition of spirituality that separates spirituality from religious reference to God or to the divine. I close the article with tips on meditation that is reported to be as effective as the prayers noted in the first video. I’ve also include a pain relief technique that makes use of meditations.

Spiritual experiences are associated with a decreased focus on the self. I’ll use this as a definition for a spiritual state of mind: a non-tangible state of mind that brings profound meaning into one’s life as one transcends oneself. Use something else if you like — we can’t say spiritual is universally anything religious though. Spiritual is as much a secular term as it is a religious term.

So, if looking for profound meaning — who isn’t — we may seek a spiritual experience. BUT — how is the important question — not why. The why is obvious for most adults; we need purposeful direction so that we can find and continue in happiness.

On how we typically find that for an ongoing spiritual life of happiness, we’ll have to go a step further than following the rules of living — we’ll find that getting into the practice of finding a spiritual state of mind, we can choose to continuously recharge spiritual awareness.

Some that teach meditation call this mindfulness. Prayer or meditations are the usual method. In either case, the brain changes over time if we practice the skills.

there may be an image copyright;
source= virulentwordofmouse.wordpress.com

I’ll use the power of video as an aid. In this first video presentation, CNN’s Campbell Brown and an expert panel look at the science behind prayer (substitute mindfulness).

source: Youtube

So, now, I want to point out that there are other techniques that may cause the same beneficial brain changes. Beneficial?  Certainly, the changes beneficially energize the brain as Dr. Newburg and Professor Cadge point out for Ms. Brown in the video.

I’ll demonstrate here, we can even eliminate the terms “pray” and “spirituality” for you — let’s use mindfulness (as defined later).

I found that a similar benefit is proclaimed for meditation practices. For example, a federal report demonstrates that mindfulness meditation can change your brain too. In fact, during a review of practices, a government panel reviewed 34 meditation trials with 3,000 participants. That study finds that meditation can reduce chronic and acute pain (see: Meditation Wins Government Approval For Pain Reduction).

Maybe you aren’t in pain. I suppose though that you probably know that pain is something that can consume the day. So, let’s have a look, if you will, at what mindfulness is all about. Even if you don’t suffer, this will be worth your while. This meditation practice will be applicable in all areas of your life similarly to what Dr. Newburg pointed out about prayer; and this is easy.

It turns out that attaining the skill that’s necessary to reduce pain amounts to very little training. The following video is longer. If you don’t have time just now, you can come back. I promise you that THIS IS WELL WORTH YOUR TIME.

source: Youtube

Do you have a couple of hours to learn how to totally invigorate your body? I think so. I hope so. This is powerful. If not, take a few minutes to read over the rest of this — you can come back too. I’ll be here.

Some of you may prefer to read about the practice of mindfulness.

So did I. I found a good match too.

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s leading teachers of mindfulness and meditation. His practice of meditation is simple and isn’t at all religious. His most recent book, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment, is a comprehensive teaching on mindfulness. You can read that. However, you can also read up on the essentials at Mindful.org.

I’ll summarize his teaching here too. Thich Nhat Hanh claims that life is available only in the here and the now, and it is our true home. He presents mindfulness (here and the now) living as a practice of five steps.

1) Mindful Breathing,
2) Concentration,
3) Awareness of Your Body,
4) Releasing Tension, and
5) Walking Meditation

His method is designed to bring your mindfulness home, into your body, to become ever more fully alive, and to perform the miracle of mindfulness — always. In my Christian training, I learned that life flows (in the moment) while I am in prayer. There are additional benefits to prayer, as we’ve seen. However, I totally respect that some of you don’t want to pray. The mindfulness meditation is a simple way to relax and re-energize. It brings more blood into the brain and it facilitates a deeply relaxed peacefulness.

Thanks for reading,

 Eric

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