Monday, October 12, 2009

Notes from the inside flap of a book

The last time I was at the library, there was a book waiting on me to check out. It is titled How God Changes Your Brain, and it was written by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman. I first saw this book on my last trip to Springfield, Missouri at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore, not far from where my parents live. I browsed the book and decided to checked it out from the library once I returned to Sand Springs.

The following words are from the notes on the jacket's inside flap:

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 improves personal awareness and empathy. They explain why yawning heightens consciousness and relaxation, and they teach "Compassionate Communication," a new meditation technique that builds intimacy with family and friends in less than fifteen minutes of practice.

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