Dr Andrew Newberg
is regarded as one of leading pioneers in the field of neuroscientific
study of religious and spiritual experiences, increasingly referred to
as – neurotheology.
His research work focuses on the nature of religious and spiritual practices and experiences and specifically how brain function is associated with various mental states, especially the relationship between brain function and mystical or religious experiences.
Andrew Newberg - "Demystifying the Human Brain: SPECT Scans, Neurotheology, and the Aging Brain."
Andrew Newberg's work provides further compelling
evidence for the neurological underpinning of the core theme of this
site, namely how to think and how to not think.
In "Thinking Styles Assessment" we reviewed the work of Dr Katherine Benziger and her evidenced based neurological insights into how our brain structures predicate our thinking style.
Benziger's model recognises that the brain has four specialised areas
responsible for different brain functions. Significantly we each
have natural strengths in only one of these specific areas. Benziger outline the importance of using
your natural preferred thinking style, and what happens when you don't.
In "Why we think the way we do" I attempted to introduce you to "why we think the way we do" from the perspective of the physiology and neurology - the "hardware" - of our minds.
I outlined why I feel that a basic understanding of the neurology of what is going on inside our heads when we engage in meditative and other spiritual practices is important:
The relevance of this understanding of the neurology of left-brain/ right-brain balance is that it is the crux of the whole "balanced" or integrated approach to life.
When we engage with these meditation practises, all that we are doing is re-shaping or re-programming the physical neurological connections between the left and right lobes of our brains via the corpus-callosum to achieve the lived experience of a physiologically better balanced brain!
In my own view, based on the evidence, at the current stage of evolution of the "average" or "normal" human brain - the "left brain" and the "right brain" do not communicate easily or much at all. The same is also true for the "the emotional centre" and "the reptile brain" or the survival instinct).
So the evidence suggests that this fundamental lack of
brain balance, is the underlying evolutionary and neurological reason
why we experience life the way we do and why we all suffer so much, it's
also the root cause of our personal internal conflict and inner
resistance or immunity to change.
At a macro level, it is why as humans we inflict so much appalling suffering on each other.
Attempting to address this imbalance lies at the root of most meditative practises - although it is rarely presented in these terms.
Andrew Newberg discussing the brain scans of people with heavy past traumas who had successfully undergone a therapeutic treatment [Details here.]
A further reason why understanding Andrew Newberg's work matters is that it explains:
(1) Why we find meditation practises so hard to do with any consistence or very much persistence.
(2) Why it takes us so long to derive significant and lasting personal change and benefit from these practises as we are quite literally re-wiring or re-routing the neurological pathways in our brains.
And this is why I feel that the use of some form of binaural meditation tool is so very helpful as it makes this "rewiring" process so much easier (just put on the head phones!) and quicker.
I have discussed this in more detail and shared my own specific experiences of this in my "Meditation Programme" product review.
Ted Talk - "Finding Our Enlightened State"
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