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Andrew Newberg, head of the Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, explains in his new book “How God Changes Your Brain,” how not only the religious, but even atheists can enjoy the benefits of faith.

The key, he says, ‘lies in the concentrating and calming effects that meditation or intense prayer have inside our heads’.

‘Brain scanners show that intense meditation alters our gray matter, strengthening regions that focus the mind and foster compassion while calming those linked to fear and anger.’

Apparently it does not matter whether a person is a believer in the metaphysical or an atheist just repeating a verse from the scriptures- the outcome can be the same -‘ a growth in the compassion that virtually every religion teaches and a decline in negative feelings and emotions.’

Newberg is a medical doctor and professor of radiology, psychology and religious studies. He has written this book with Mark Robert Waldman, a therapist at the Center.

The authors say that even 10 to 15 minutes of meditation seem to have “significantly positive effects on cognition, relaxation and psychological health,

However, Newberg’s research shows that ‘the short prayers most believers say, leave little trace on the brain because they are not as intense as meditation’.

Newberg, who grew up in a Reform Jewish family and has studied many religions, said his work might help both believers and atheists understand religious feelings, which he said were “among the most powerful and complex experiences people have.

The two most powerful forces in all of human history have been religion and science,” he said.

These are the two things that help us organize our world and understand it. Why not try to bring them together to address each other and ultimately our world in a more effective way?”

Something to think about, certainly!
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