While I was in Canada recently I started to read a fascinating book entitled How God Changes Your Brain. I enjoyed it so much that I ordered a copy and am thoroughly enjoying reading it and reflecting on its relevance. Interestingly, the authors Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman are not writing from a Christian perspective. Andrew is a neuroscientist, Mark is a therapist. They are more interested in the impact that spiritual practices have on our physical and emotional health than on our spiritual development.
That does not reduce its importance however. I think they say some wonderful things for all people of faith to think about. They provide some very practical exercises for all of us to consider.
So here is some of what they say (quoted from the back cover of the book):
Prayer and spiritual practice don’t just reduce stress, but meditation for as little as 12 minutes a day can slow down the aging process.
Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety and depression and increases feelings of security, compassion and love.
Intense prayer and meditation lastingly change numerous structures and functions in the brain, altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
Fundamentalism can be personally beneficial, but the prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain.
I know that some people find books like this threatening because they interpret them to say that God is just a chemical reaction going on in our brain. For me however they are exciting because they confirm the activity of God in my life – if God is truly at work in our lives then we should expect that his activity in our brains should create discernable changes. What do you think,