The following article appeared several years ago in a Newspaper called the Sydney Morning Herald. It was endorsed by Bob Murray, PhD, and Alicia Fortinberry, MS, who founded the Uplift Program. The Uplift program is dedicated to the treatment of depression and the overall mental well being of all people. I have read a little of Bob and Alicia’s work, and find their ideas fascinating, as well as similar to some Christian concepts of community and prayer, or even meditation. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

If you suufer from depression, and are looking for help, visit their website, The Uplift Program.

'The Prayer Spot' Found

May 22, 2001

A couple of years ago researchers at the University of California at San Diego found the famous 'God Spot,' a part of the brain that reacts to certain spiritual/religious stimuli. Now scientists have gone even further to probe the biological underpinnings of prayer and other kinds of religious experience.

Professor Newberg, an assistant professor at the University of Pennsylvania whose work appears in Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, takes images of the brains of people during peak religious experiences -- deep prayer and religious meditation.

A pattern has emerged from Professor Newberg's experiments. There is a small region near the back of the brain that constantly calculates a person's spatial orientation, the sense of where one's body ends and the world begins. During intense prayer or meditation, and for unknown reasons, this region becomes a quiet oasis of inactivity. "It creates a blurring of the self-other relationship," said Professor Newberg, "If they go far enough, they have a complete dissolving of the self, a sense of union, a sense of infinite spacelessness."

Professor Newberg and other scientists are finding that people's diverse devotional traditions have a powerful biological reality. During intense meditation and prayer, the brain and body experience signature changes, as yet poorly understood, that could yield new insights into the religious experience.

An example is a National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical trial at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore that will study the effects of group prayer sessions among black women with breast cancer -- the first such study. Already, scientists say, the young field has provided evidence that these meditative states -- which rely on shutting down the senses and repeating words, phrases or movements -- are a natural part of the brain; that humans are, in some sense, inherently spiritual beings.

"Prayer is the modern brain's means of connecting to more powerful ancestral states of consciousness," said Gregg Jacobs, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. With meditative states, people seem to turn off what Professor Jacobs called "the internal chatter" of the higher, conscious brain.

Eventually, researchers hope to identify a common biological core in the world's many varieties of worship.

We have been saying for a long time that humans were inherently spiritual beings. This will not come as news to Fortinberry-Murray practitioners. Bob Murray, PhD.

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