B4Peace, Campbell Brown, happy, Health, meditation, Mindfulness, Religion and Spirituality, Religious experience, Thich Nhat Hanh
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;
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).
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.
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,
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,
- morning Meditation (hunt4truth.wordpress.com)
Hunt FOR Truth said:
Where is worship going?
Is this related to mind science?
Hunt FOR Truth said:
Yes, however, mind science (cognitive science) is not the area of my focus. In the CNN video, the report shows that the specific activities cause brain scan changes – the activities cause significant brain changes that can be detected by scans. The scans do not provide any evidence of benefits however. Also, as pointed out in that video by both medical doctors, the proof of benefits of prayer are difficult to determine.
This activity of observing brain changes is related to Mind Science, yes. Mind science (cognitive science) is used to describe how cognition occurs… specifically how thought becomes conscious. see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_Science
It is related that way – the brain is studied and the same techniques may be used to monitor brain activity. Mind science is a multidiscipline study that involves many fields of science.
For most of what I want to demonstrate, brain activity is enough. I just want to demonstrate that the brain works differently and develops differently in people that have an active prayer and meditation practice.
Here is an article that discusses how the brain images demonstrate spiritual activity (meditation or prayer). see: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/human-brain/brain-religion1.htm/printable
I posted a similar finding: https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/10/13/is-the-brain-spirituality-wired/
However, generally also, my posts depart from brain scans to determine what health benefits there may be by prayer and mindfulness/meditation. I have posted several related reports that demonstrate benefits… for instance: https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-entity-we-call-mind-may-not-be-as-neuroscience-says-just-a-manifestation-of-the-brain/ and https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/12/23/ripple-ing/ and https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/mindfulness-working-for-it-is-improving-us/ are a few.
I choose not to usually focus on how cognitive processes occur and where consciousness comes from. I did post some: https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-entity-we-call-mind-may-not-be-as-neuroscience-says-just-a-manifestation-of-the-brain/ and https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2014/01/14/developing-better-brains/
As far as I found, no one can demonstrate where thought originates. This is very frustrating to scientists more so than to me. I am sure that consciousness is not just a physical brain function although obviously the brain interprets signals and is involved.
I believe that we are spiritual beings in these physical bodies and that the more spiritually fit a person is the more the brain also is developed to support the increasing spiritual growth.
Thus, I’ll rarely want to involve findings of cognitive science (mind science).
I hope my answer is useful for you.
If I missed anything, please let me know.
no, I was curious the direction you were going with the post. Thanks for clarifying.:)
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A study done with Buddhist monks revealed that while they prayed during an MRI, parts of their brain lit up like a Christmas tree, more so than the one’s who didn’t engage in any kind of meditation.
Hunt FOR Truth said:
Yes, in fact I had planned to post more and they are included — see: https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/what-is-the-happiest-person-in-the-world-saying/ and https://hunt4truth.wordpress.com/2013/09/22/the-entity-we-call-mind-may-not-be-as-neuroscience-says-just-a-manifestation-of-the-brain/