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How God Changes Your Brain: Breakthrough Findings from a Leading Neuroscientist Hardcover – 24 Mar 2009

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (24 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345503414
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345503411
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 2.5 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,327,281 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Sam Woodward TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Aug. 2009
Format: Hardcover
The title of this book may give some people the wrong idea. 'How God Changes Your Brain' discusses Newberg & Waldman's latest neuroscientific research into how the brain is affected by various spiritual practises - particularly meditation, prayer & contemplation of God or a positive secular image. The tone is objective & the authors are not interested in pushing either a religious or anti-religious agenda.

Whether or not God actually exists is not discussed. For the authors, whether someones' beliefs are factually correct is secondary to whether or not they are actually good for their physical & mental health. Which for the most part, they are - apparently different methods of meditation & prayer have different, yet universally positive, effects on our neurological functioning & physical & emotional health. According to the authors, "even minimal religious participation is correlated with enhancing longevity & personal health". Conversely, there is a chapter on the damaging effect of beliefs in a punitive, wrathful God (increased stress & paranoia) but the main message is a positive one.

A sizeable seciton of this book outlines practical exercises for enhancing various mental processes, which have been scientifically proven to work. These mainly consist of different forms of meditation but bizarrely include yawning - which is apparently so good for improving alertness & creating feelings of empathy that the authors recommend 10-20 forced yawns before meditaiton or prayer.

This an inspiring book on a number of levels. For instance, I personally don't believe in the literal existence of God & while this book has not changed my opinion, the authors' respect for people with different beliefs has rubbed off on me.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Betty Lean. on 17 April 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I found this a fascinating and informative book. The author is a practicing neurologist and has researched this subject of religion and mediation over a long period of time with a colleague, as regards how this state of mind improves ones cognitive pathways. They discovered that stimulation of the anterior cingulate slows down activity in the amygdala, which means we are calmer and more reasonable. It is well written and I would encourage any one who is interested in the brain to read it. I would think agnostics and atheist would find it of equal benefit.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr. H. A. Jones TOP 500 REVIEWER on 29 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
How God Changes Your Brain by Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman, Ballantine Books, New York, 2009, 364 ff.

The health benefits of spirituality
By Howard Jones

The health benefits of various forms of spiritual meditation have been known for many years - hence the popularity of yoga and other eastern meditative practices. Meditation generates endorphins and thereby reduces heart rate and blood pressure; it produces relaxed breathing and a general feeling of wellbeing. The associated mind-set promotes an attitude of beneficence towards our fellow man, and that can only be a good thing for all concerned. The well-being produced by spirituality is the subject of this book.

Andrew Newberg is an Associate Professor of Radiology and Psychiatry in the School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and Mark Robert Waldman is an Associate Fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the same university. Newberg earlier wrote a book with his mentor, Eugene d'Aquili, called The Mystical Mind, on the same theme and he has a number of books and papers on mind and meditation to his name.

The important point emphasised by Newberg in his books and lectures is that you do not have to believe in the God of western religion in order to be spiritual and to benefit from meditative practices: `Spiritual practices, even when stripped of religious beliefs . . . improve physical and emotional health.' It is important therefore to distinguish, as the authors do, between religion and spirituality. Even the term `God' is used here in a generic sense to denote the highest of our spiritual values. This `God' exists in the world, in our subconscious perception and in our conscious images and concepts.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By J. P. Marsh on 16 Oct. 2010
Format: Paperback
I found this book a mature well balanced read, bridging the findings of the mystics with neuro science. Thankfully the book distances itself from the myopic atheism of Dawkins and approaches the subject of spirituality with honesty and integrity. I found the authors findings are a little compartmentalised however, mapping certain meditational experiences within certain regions of the brain. If the reader is not careful then one could be lead into the conclusion that the spiritual experience is merely the by product of physiological processes. It is difficult to ascertain whether the authors attribute consciousness as a local phenomenon of the brain or not because of the acceptance of neuro plasticity, which the spiritual masters have advocated long before mainstream science addressed the topic. By accepting the premise that an individual can re wire themselves and so eventually start to create their own reality is the most empowering part of the book, but shys from actually embracing the more miraculous aspects of this premise.
The book includes quite a few meditation excercises, including "conscious yawning" detailing the benefits of each method. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in spirituality rather than religion and also satisfies those with a scientific orientation.
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