How Enlightenment Changes the Brain — And How You Can Become Enlightened

Enlightenment is a traditionally mystical and slippery concept, but when it is subjected to the rigors of empirical analysis, there is a lot to be learned about our brains and ourselves.

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Enlightenment is a traditionally mystical and slippery concept, but when it is subjected to the rigors of empirical analysis, there is a lot to be learned about our brains and ourselves. Dr. Andrew Newberg, who has put enlightenment through a battery of scientific tests, says there are actually two kinds of enlightenment: lowercase-e enlightenment, which changes our opinions about the world, and Enlightenment, which changes our essence, i.e. how we think of life, death, God, etc.

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Are We Hard-Wired for Religion?

The brain - no matter how it got there - does have this profound ability to engage in religious and spiritual experiences.

When we look at how the brain works it looks like the brain is able to very easily engage in religious and spiritual practices, ideas and experiences.  All the brain scan studies that we've done show that there are multiple parts of the brain that seem to get involved. 

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Neurotheology: The Experience of Getting Outside of Your Brain

Neurotheology is a way of trying to understand the subjective nature of the mind. 

To me one of the most interesting aspects of the spiritual experiences that we've studied is that if people get deep enough into the practice they feel as if they have kind of gotten outside of their brain. 

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Your Beliefs Make You Healthy. You Just Need to Believe in Them.

I would encourage everyone to sit down in the morning before you really do anything and for a few moments write down your core values.

Research that has shown the potential benefit of being a religious or spiritual person is a population-based answer. In other words, the overall population does a little bit better, but that has no implication for each individual.

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