Spiritual experiences rooted in one’s brain

December 18th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 18 (IANS) All spiritual experiences are truly rooted in our brain, according to the latest study. Experiences linked with selflessness are related to decreased activity in the right parietal lobe of the brain, says the study, among the first to use individuals with traumatic brain injury to determine this connection.

The parietal lobes can be divided into two functional regions. One involves sensation and perception and the other is concerned with integrating sensory input, primarily with the visual system.

“The brain functions in a certain way during spiritual experiences,” said Brick Johnstone, professor of health psychology at the Missouri University (MU) School of Health Professions.

“We studied people with brain injury and found that people with injuries to the right parietal lobe of the brain reported higher levels of spiritual experiences, such as transcendence,” he said.

This study, along with other recent neuroradiological studies of Buddhist meditators and Francescan nuns, suggests that all individuals, regardless of cultural background or religion, experience the same neuropsychological functions during spiritual experiences, such as transcendence.

Transcendence, feelings of universal unity and decreased sense of self, are among core tenets of all major religions. Meditation and prayer are the primary vehicles by which such spiritual transcendence is achieved, said a MU statement.

People with these selfless spiritual experiences are also more psychologically healthy, especially if they have positive beliefs that there is a God or higher power who loves them, Johnstone said.

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