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How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientistby M.D. Andrew Newberg
Synopses & Reviews
God is great–for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. That’s the finding of this startling, authoritative, and controversial book by the bestselling authors of Born to Believe.
Based on new evidence culled from their brain-scan studies on memory patients and meditators, their Web-based survey of people’s religious and spiritual experiences, and their analyses of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg, therapist Mark Robert Waldman, and their research team have concluded that active and positive spiritual belief changes the human brain for the better. What’s more, actual faith isn’t always necessary: atheists who meditate on positive imagery can obtain similar neurological benefits. Written in an accessible style–with illustrations highlighting how spiritual experiences affect the mind–How God Changes Your Brain offers the following breakthrough discoveries:
• Not only do prayer and spiritual practice reduce stress and anxiety, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.
• Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety, depression, and stress and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love.
• Fundamentalism, in and of itself, is benign and can be personally beneficial, but the anger and prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damage your brain.
• Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain–altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
How God Changes Your Brain is both a revelatory work of modern science and a practical guide for readers to enhance their physical and emotional health and to avoid mental decline. Newberg and Waldman explain the eight best ways to “exercise” your brain and guide readers through specific routines derived from a wide variety of Eastern and Western spiritual practices that improve personal awareness and empathy. They explain why yawning heightens consciousness and relaxation, and they teach “Compassionate Communication,” a new mediation technique that builds intimacy with family and friends in less than fifteen minutes of practice.
Unique in its conclusions and innovative in its methods, How God Changes Your Brain is a first-of-a-kind book about faith that is as credible as it is inspiring.
Reveals the controversial discovery that thinking about God — however we define the term — can improve cognitive functioning and physical health, interrupt the devastating effects of depression, Alzheimer's disease, and a host of stress-related disorders, and foster compassion towards others.
God is great--for your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Based on new evidence culled from brain-scan studies, a wide-reaching survey of people's religious and spiritual experiences, andthe authors' analyses of adult drawings of God, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and therapist Mark Robert Waldman offer the following breakthrough discoveries:
- Not only doprayer and spiritual practice reduce stress, but just twelve minutes of meditation per day may slow down the aging process.
- Contemplating a loving God rather than a punitive God reduces anxiety anddepression and increases feelings of security, compassion, and love.
- Fundamentalism, in and of itself, can be personally beneficial, but the prejudice generated by extreme beliefs can permanently damageyour brain.
- Intense prayer and meditation permanently change numerous structures and functions in the brain, altering your values and the way you perceive reality.
Both a revelatorywork of modern science and a practical guide for readers to enhance their physical and emotional health, How God Changes Your Brain is a first-of-a-kind book about faith that is ascredible as it is inspiring.
About the Author
Andrew Newberg, M.D., is the director of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. He is one of the founders of the new interdisciplinary field called neurotheology. He is an associate professor in the department of radiology, with secondary appointments in the departments of psychiatry and religious studies, at the University of Pennsylvania. His work has been featured on Good Morning America, Nightline, the Discovery Channel, the BBC, NPR, and National Geographic Television. He is the co-author of Why God Won’t Go Away, Born to Believe, and The Mystical Mind.
Mark Robert Waldman is an associate fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a therapist, the author or co-author of ten books, including Born to Believe (with Andrew Newberg), and was the founding editor of Transpersonal Review. He lectures throughout the country on neuroscience, religion, and spirituality and conducts research with numerous religious and secular groups. His work has been featured in dozens of newspapers and magazines and on syndicated radio programs.
Table of Contents
Author's note — Part 1: Religion And The Human Brain — 1: Who cares about God? — Prelude to a neurological and spiritual revolution — 2: Do you even need God when you pray? — Meditation, memory, and the aging brain — 3: What does God do to your brain? — Neural varieties of spiritual practice — Part 2: Neural Evolution And God — 4: What does God feel like? — Varieties of spiritual experience — 5: What does God look like? — Imagination, creativity, and the visual representation of spirituality — 6: Does God have a heart? — Compassion, mysticism, and the spiritual personalities of the brain — 7: What happens when God gets mad? — Anger, fear, and the fundamentalist in our brain — Part 3: Transforming Your Inner Reality — 8: Exercising your brain — Eight ways to enhance your physical, mental, and spiritual health — 9: Finding serenity — Meditation, intention, relaxation, and awareness — 10: Compassionate communication — Dialogue, intimacy, and conflict transformation — Epilogue: Is God real? — Personal reflection — Appendix A: Compassionate communication — CDs, workshops, and online research — Appendix B: How to participate in our research studies — Appendix C: Meditation and mindfulness — Books, CDs, and resources — Acknowledgments — Endnotes — Index.
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