Is Your Brain Really Spiritual?

The most spiritually intense life experiences have the capacity to momentarily remove a person from the realm of time and space. It is inevitable that people will want to be in pursuit of a spirituality which not only brings harmony and serenity to the soul, but also enlightenment of the spirit. Spirituality is the nourishment of the soul, the soul thirsts for it; and when unable to find it, searches for it in drunken materials. Nevertheless, spirituality can be experienced by any human being, whether religious or layman. Scientists at Yale University have discovered the exact spot in the human brain that activates when people experience spirituality. According to Marc Potenza, professor of psychiatry at Yale University, the “parietal cortex” in the human brain is the area associated with spirituality. Thus, the neuropsychological connection with spirituality does not make it an unattainable feat and is also essential for knowing how the brain works.

Spirituality, with its significant charisma, is culturally holistic and inclusive. Religion, on the other hand, is more of an institutionalized entity. Transcendence, which is the ability to transcend oneself, is also associated with spirituality. Likewise, enlightenment, from the Buddhist point of view, is the absence of suffering and desire, as well as the presence of absolute peace. Low levels of stress and anxiety are seen in people who experience enlightenment. The reason lies in the decrease in the activity of the frontal lobes, achieved during meditation. Frontal lobes working 24/7, constantly processing complex information and events, when you experience sub-zero activity during meditation practice or prayer, immerse yourself in the realm of l enlightenment where there is no stress, hassle or worry. Lower activity in the frontal lobe is linked to “a feeling of completely surrendering your willpower,” says Andrew Newberg, neuroscientist and author of The Metaphysical mind: deepening the biology of philosophical thought. When our egoistic mind completely submits to something infinite and greater than itself, it experiences enlightenment.

The general perception regarding the attributes that transfer genetically from generation to generation is very difficult to discuss in the case of spirituality. Geneticists themselves admit that genes don’t tell all the intricate details of human genetics. Thus, there is still a lack of data regarding the religious and spiritual beliefs transferred from parents to offspring. However, Dr. Dean Hamer, author of the book The divine gene: how faith is embedded in our genes complements “genetic variation” in subjects who experience moments of ecstasy and euphoria during spiritual activity. Yet the question of whether or not spirituality is genetically transferred is debatable and needs to be further clarified. On the other hand, the neural substrate of human beings supports spirituality and beliefs. Our brain is designed to recognize God, because if it doesn’t, suffering arises. We have “divine neurons” deep within our limbic system (also related to emotion), says Rhawn Joseph, a neurotheologian. The question then arises: can only theists have this neutral network in their brain to have these divine neurons? In the words of Professor Jordan Grafman, “There is nothing unique about religious belief in these brain structures. Religion does not have a “divine point” as such, but rather is integrated with a whole range of other belief systems in the brain that we use every day. In my opinion, based on the analysis, the “divine neurons” are present in everyone, theist or atheist, the key is to recognize and reach that particular place which brings spirituality and enlightenment. One can experience spirituality or enlightenment through meditation practices. Concentration has to slow down our brains speaking 24/7, which have a hard time thinking about all the problems that exist. As the study suggests that a human thinks about 6,200 thoughts per day. Not one, not two, 6,200 thoughts. And meditation practices offer a chance to immerse yourself in a thoughtless brain. Therefore, there is no doubt that our brains are hardwired to tap into the spiritual realm.

Religion has been around for centuries, and people’s belief in the higher and ultimate authority has given them a sense of belonging and security. In the United States, 80% of adults have some sort of religious or spiritual belief, according to a study published online in the Recovery advice. People without belief usually experience an existential crisis, devoid of meaning and purpose. Emptiness, emptiness and nothingness invade being; even the world itself seems aimless. The reason for this is their inability to identify the “godneurone” in their brain. So it’s no surprise that people kill themselves because of excruciating stress and constant worry. Neurotheological study is therefore important to elucidate concepts about the functioning of the brain. Researcher Akshat Jain and his teams working in this field of neuroscience will open a few more doors.

This world is a mundane place to live. Daily experiences of the world can strain the brain to an excruciating level. Therefore, the modern world is teeming with countless cases of stress-related disorders. Our means of survival and a meaningful life depend heavily on spiritual experiences. They have a “profound impact on people’s lives,” say researchers at Yale University. Religious, gurus, monks, nuns, mediators; all the calmness of these people and the means to take this world and its problems casually, is due to their years of meditation practice. In the words of James Allen, “Meditation is the secret to all growth in spiritual life and knowledge. Therefore, the question is not whether your brain is spiritual or not, but have you tapped into your brain to make it spiritual. To conclude with a quote from Amit Ray, “Suffering is due to disconnection with the inner soul, meditation makes that connection.”



The opinions expressed above are those of the author.


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