Is the term “Born Again” simply a way to designate a person who is committed to their faith or is there more? There seems to be the connotation of letting go of the “old you” and actually living as a changed being. Again, is this metaphorical or is their more than meets the eye to this process. As you might have guessed… it’s the latter. Read on to learn more!
I’m writing a book that pulls together many of the thoughts behind the “Oneness Approach”. This journey began on my grandmother’s lap while she read her bible. It came with adolescent questions about how important my faith was and how to share it while helping others. During my medical and psychiatric training, it took on another flavor as we could finally study the functional inner workings of the brain. I traveled across America teaching clinicians about the purpose of faith in their relationships with their patients. I was asked to start a website so that people could learn more and now, a book!
Being "Born Again" and Neurological Changes
In my research, I came across Dr. Newberg and Mark Waldman’s book, “How God Changes Your Brain.” I shared a podcast with each of them a while back and really enjoyed their commitment to studying the brain changes associated with meditation and prayer. As I was reading I couldn’t help but see the possibility of neurological changes associated with being “born again”.
As always, you shouldn’t look for scientific proof of your belief in God. That would make science your God and believe me that wouldn’t work. We in science, change our minds as frequently as we change our socks. Yet, we are always looking to “prove” something is true! (lol)
I believe that it does work the other way. I think you can use your faith to guide the efforts of your research. First, you have billions of people in various forms of prayer and meditation for thousands of years. It would be nice to study the potential risks and benefits of such efforts. The positive findings on the effects of prayer and meditation on nearly all aspects of life have been astounding. Second, if you believe in God, then you know that he/she wired us. With that understanding, we can study prayer and meditation in a way that investigates potential benefits we haven’t yet explored - so let’s look at a few findings!
Benefits of Prayer and Meditation
- Sustained periods of Prayer/Meditation result in enriched function of the parietal lobe of your cerebral cortex. This correlates with a more distinct and resilient sense of self.
- Your hypothalamus is the subconscious relay station of the brain that provides your sense of what is real and what is not.
- In sustained intense prayer about God, your sense of self and your sense of God merge according to your belief e.g. that you are a child of God.
- Therefore, your old sense of self during prayer becomes more resilient and changes to become a new creation based on your faith.
- Your thalamus will perceive this new reality both internally and externally as it doesn’t perceive any difference.
- This change in your sense of self is associated with a permanent change in the function of your thalamus. You have two separate thalami, one for each side of the brain. Their function is usually quite symmetrical. Under sustained prayer efforts of greater than ten years their function becomes asymmetrical. What’s more, this asymmetrical function is present whether you are praying or not.
- In other words, you live with a new reality. Your old sense of self has been replaced by a sense of your relationship to God. This sense is carried during, before and after you pray, allowing you to be born again and in a state of praying continuously.
More to come!
To learn more about the neurological benefits of prayer, meditation and faith, subscribe to my podcast as these are topics we frequently discuss.