You’ve probably heard of Dr. Andrew Newberg’s work on meditation, even if you didn’t realize it — he’s the scientist who did the ground breaking studies of Tibetan monks meditating that showed how dramatically it changed the brain. He went on to study nuns praying and Sikhs chanting and found similar brain states as those of meditation. His ground breaking work led to the development of a new field of science called “neurotheology,” which studies the relationship between the brain and religious experience.
His more recent research has shown that meditating for as little as 12 minutes a day for eight weeks can reduce depression, lower stress and cortisol levels and dramatically improve memory and brain function. From www.theawareshow.com , Lisa Garr’s neuroscience website, she writes:
“Andrew has been asking questions about reality, truth, and God since he was very young, and he has long been fascinated by the human mind and its complex workings. While a medical student, he met Dr. Eugene d’Aquili, who was studying religious experiences. Combining their interests with Andrew’s background in neuroscience and brain imaging, they were able to break new theoretical and empirical ground on the relationship between the brain and religion.
Andrew’s research now largely focuses on how brain function is associated with various mental states–in particular, religious and mystical experiences. His research has included brain scans of people in prayer, meditation, rituals, and trance states, as well as surveys of people’s spiritual experiences and attitudes.”
In addition to lowering stress, meditation is also known to play a key role in developing spiritually, as well as for enhancing one’s psychic abilities. Ancient traditions have described the link between using altered states such as prayer and meditation to increase spirituality and communicate with other levels of awareness.