THE BIOLOGY OF BELIEF: –
Science and religion argue all the time, but they increasingly agree on one thing: a little spirituality may be very good for your health. – Spirituality predicts for better disease control. A large body of science shows a positive impact of religion on health. The way the brain works is so compatible with religion and spirituality that we are going to be enmeshed in both for a long time.
When people engage in prayer, it is the frontal lobes that take the lead, since they govern focus and concentration. During very deep prayer, the parietal lobe powers down, which is what allows us to experience that sense of having loosed our earthly moorings.
Faith and health overlap other ways too. One of the staples of both traditional wellness protocols and traditional religious rituals is the cleansing fast, which is said to purge toxins in the first case and purge sins or serve other pious ends in the second. Jews fast on Yom Kippur, Catholics have lent, Muslims observe Ramadan, and Hindus give up food on 18 major holidays. Done right, these fasts may lead to a state of clarity and even euphoria. This in turn can give practitioners the blissful sense that whether the goal of food restriction is health or spiritual insight, it’s being achieved. When the body is deprived of calories, first the liver and then fat compensate for the deficit, providing energy for needy cells. This altered body chemistry can affect the brain, leading some to feel an otherworldly connection.
Faith and Health: –
Religious belief is not just a mind question but involves the commitment of one’s body as well. People who maintain a sense of gratitude for what is going right in their lives have reduced incidence of depression, which is itself a predictor of health. People who believe their lives have meaning live longer than people who don’t. Given the generally higher incidence of obesity, hypertension and other lifestyle ills among African Americans, the church is in a powerful position to do a lot of good. The body is a temple, and the connection can be made between the physical body and religious and spiritual well-being.
Common Faith: –
A Hindu believes there are many paths to God. Jesus is one way, the Qur’an is another, and yoga practice is a third and so on. None is better than any other, all are equal. The most conservative Christians have not been taught to think like this. They learn in Sunday school that their religion is true, and others are false. Jesus said, “ I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through me.” Americans are no longer buying it. At present 65 percent Americans believe that “Many religions can lead to eternal life” Also the number of people who seek spiritual truth outside church is growing. 30% of Americans call themselves “Spiritual, not Religious”. You are not picking and choosing from different religions, because they are all the same. It’s about whatever works. If going to Yoga works, great – and going to Catholic mass works, great. And if going to Catholic mass plus the Yoga plus the Buddhist retreat works, that’s great too. That means whatever gives the peace in mind called spirituality is good.