Thursday, May 25, 2017

Prayer and the Brain

In most forms of prayer/meditation, the practitioner has a purpose (e.g., to calm the mind, to become more mindfully aware, to experience God or a spiritual event). Newberg said the act of prayer is a problem-solving device, designed to consciously explore a spiritual perspective or belief and to integrate that awareness into daily life. This requires increased activity in the attention area of the brain. Brain scans have shown activation of the frontal lobes, especially the prefrontal cortex just above the eyes, during prayer and meditation. In addition, activity in the parietal lobes (that interpret sensory information to create a three-dimensional representation of one’s surroundings) becomes deactivated, allowing one to become more connected with the object of his/her attention. Quantifying the world is so important to brain function that it even impacts religious rituals. For example, recommendations are for Hindus to pray three times a day, Muslims five times a day, Roman Catholics seven times a day, and an orthodox Jew one hundred times a day.

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