How Prayer Changes Your Brain

Did you know that prayer and meditation can change the physical structure of your brain for the better?

Pretty amazing!

A Well-Worn Path

Our Rev. Edward has given a great analogy about changing a thought or habit: Imagine that you walk through a field of tall grass on your way somewhere every day. There is a well-worn path that you take each time without really thinking about it.
Then one day you decide to go a different way. The tall grass springs right back up behind you as you pass through. But if you keep going that new way every time, eventually you wear a new path clear of grass all the way through the field.
Your brain works the same way. And this isn’t just a metaphor. The way we think affects our brains. When we think a thought or have a habit – good or bad – that we repeat day after day, that’s the well-worn path that takes little thought or effort. That’s a good thing for routine tasks like remembering how to drive, not to mention eat, walk, and so many other things we do every day!

Making a New Path in Your Brain

But when that well-worn path is a bad habit, then reaching for that cookie or cigarette or whatever, happens without our conscious participation. Pretty soon the whole bag of chips is gone and you wonder “How did that happen?” in the same way you sometimes “wake up” while driving and find yourself at your destination.

So changing that bad habit takes effort. You need to think about it, and resolve to choose the new way over and over again until you have worn a new path through the field. I’ve seen video of a new thought being formed where neurons that were connected disconnect and re-wire to other neurons in the brain. Pretty cool! (If I find it, I;ll add the link.)

“Neurons that fire together wire together.” Donald Hebb

This is where affirmative prayer can help.

New studies in neuro-science show that getting into a Delta brain wave state can help reprogram subconscious thoughts. In the relaxed state of prayer, you can slip in under the conscious radar to install new mental software. An affirmative prayer can actually start to wear that new path in the brain’s field. You strengthen the connections in your brain through repeated prayer and meditation.
“You can use the mind to change the brain to change the mind for the better.” Rick Hanson, PhD

How About You?

Do you find that prayer helps you change your mental or physical habits?

If you would like support and guidance in some inner re-wiring, schedule a free 30-minute consultation with me to discuss whether spiritual coaching/ mentorship is right for you.

Grounding Meditation

Why would I want to know a grounding meditation? We all have times when we feel angry, anxious, confused, jealous, and so on. I don’t know about you, but I do not enjoy feeling that way. Wouldn’t it be great if we could flip a switch to turn that off?

Well, grounding is one way to give ourselves the space to make a choice. It simply means becoming present again to where we are in physical space. It’s like coming home. I find that if I take a moment to do this before speaking – even to myself – it makes a huge difference.

Our brain will tend to follow pathways that we have used before. That’s why habits are hard to break. That’s why it’s so easy to fall into speaking from those less-than-our-best places. For example, I find myself automatically cursing aloud to myself when I am clumsy, or when my computer acts up. I don’t need to analyze why I get frustrated by such a little thing. I can simply start PRACTICING a new choice. Continue reading “Grounding Meditation”

Using a Mantra to Focus the Mind

I’m assisting in a class called Beyond Limits class at the Center for Spiritual Living. This week, among other things, we talked about mantras as an option for meditating. A mantra is a repeated phrase that helps focus and occupy the mind. I like to use a mala, a string of prayer beads, because it also occupies my hands. An east-Indian mala has 108 beads. Twice the number in a rosary.mantra mala

I love repeat a mantra in my mind as I fall asleep. And I especially like it for getting BACK to sleep after the common 3am wake-up. The mantra focuses my mind on a positive phrase and feeling, the mala beads get me in my body and out of my 3am thinking brain. And the repetitive nature of the mantra often lulls me to sleep in that positive frame of mind. Continue reading “Using a Mantra to Focus the Mind”

What If I Just Can’t Connect To My Inner Knowing?

What If I Just Can’t Connect To My Inner Knowing?

Plug connectRecently I sat with someone to pray after service who deeply wants to feel to connect with her inner knowing or Spirit, but cannot believe that it’s true. She couldn’t let it in. She couldn’t let herself feel it. Since these are 5 minute meetings, I didn’t have time to ask how it got to be that way, but I knew exactly how it felt when I didn’t believe, when Faith was a fairy tale that couldn’t possibly be true.

Continue reading “What If I Just Can’t Connect To My Inner Knowing?”