Prayer’s Effect On The Brain

If you believe in God then you will have a better understanding of this story. Several months ago I was diagnosed with tremors. Because this disorder I experience facial movements that I’m unaware of and have no control over. My family and friends were concerned about me. Usually after I post this weekly Blog, I make a cooking video. After reviewing some of these videos I realized that my tremors were getting more noticeable and I needed medical attention.

My grandson Jacob’s drawing of the wires and battery
The droopy face drawing

The Neurologist

Since our daughter Sonja switched careers and is now in the medical field, she was able to schedule an appointment with one of the best doctors in this field. The doctor gave me a battery of simple hand movement tests, and made me get up and walk up and down a long hallway. He announced that it was not Parkinson’s, so both Mike and I were relieved with the great news. He ordered an MRI and though it took several weeks to get the results, it showed no indication that my brain was compromised. When we had our last virtual meeting he gave me several options to reduce the tremors. The first option was to make two small incisions on the top of my head connected with two tiny wires that would feed into a battery that would be placed on the  right side of my upper breast. Option two was botox, but this type of botox would make half of my face droopy.

My Body, My Brain

I’m already taking medication to help with the tremors. This same  doctor prescribed half a pill to be taken in the evening. The half a pill was working out well for me because I suffer from pharmacopoeia. If I dislike taking medicine, I certainly would not want any type of surgery, especially making holes in my head and dropping a pea-sized battery down my chest. So the first option was, “No thank you!” The second option was botox, which sounded great until the doctor went into detail about the procedure.  I would never place myself in that category of women who after having had much work done on their faces they start to resemble lions. So the only other option was to raise the medication to a full pill daily.

How We Are Wired

Mike graciously  informs me when I get triggered. It’s usually when I’m upset or in deep concentration. Though I can’t control the tremors, I can when it is brought to my attention. I can redirect my thoughts and stop them. God has been in the midst of all of this ordeal. I know that when I pray or go into deep mystical prayer my mind is at ease. I feel the peace of God that is inexpressible. I believe that our brains and hearts work together to bring us to a level of spirituality that draws us so close to God that all else becomes secondary.

Through his extensive studies Dr. Andrew Newberg, a leading neuroscientist, has discovered that engaging in 12 minutes of prayer and personal reflection daily have a profound impact on our brains. They strengthen the neural circuit that enhances our social awareness and empathy; it helps us to love our neighbors by developing a sense of compassion and repressing negative emotions. We know what anger does; it isolates us and distorts how we receive others. According to Newberg, anger releases neurochemicals that destroy that part of the brain that controls our emotional reactions.

Our brain was made to last a lifetime; if you have been blessed with brain health you will notice that it keeps giving. I am 70 years old, but my brain is still retaining new information. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve walked into a room and completely forgotten why I went there in the first place. I started to speak out loud the purpose of my intention. For instance, we keep paper towels, canned foods, etc. in the garage. Before I go into the garage I announce out loud, “I’m going to the garage for paper towels.” This action is helping my brain to retain what I was thinking.

According to Dr. Newberg our brain is constantly changing, so we need to develop good behaviors. Our behavior, good or bad, will shape our destiny. Dr. Newberg also said that it is important to listen to 12 minutes of relaxing music every day. Recently, on our drive home from Santa Barbara, we were listening to Bohemian Rhapsody. For almost an entire week I could not get that song out of my head. I’d start to pray the Rosary and that song would taunt me in the back of my head. I had to pray this mindless song out of my brain!

Our brains were created by God; therefore there is a special part of our brain that is used to edify God. Neuroscientists and neurotheologists are working together to discover if there is a “God Spot.” They have concluded that prayer and meditation stimulate multiple parts of the brain. News Flash! I’m not a neuroscientist, but I could have offered that information freely.

The study of near-death experiences is still a beautiful mystery that continues to baffle the minds of neuroscientists. My sister Jo experienced this when she went into labor with her third son Torie. After arriving at the hospital and being examined by a nurse, she was told to go home because she was not in labor. She almost died on the way home, so by the time she returned to the hospital she had lost five pints of blood. Both Jo and her baby were in dire straits. While lying in the hospital bed, Jo experienced something supernatural. A blinding white light appeared over her head. She explained that a-force like tunnel took her up. She spoke to God and said, “Lord, I know I’m going to die, please take care of my boys.” She clearly heard a man’s voice say, “It’s not your time.” People who have experienced near-death experiences have been transformed for the better.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, I thank You for a sound mind. I pray for all those who suffer from memory loss. Lord, help them through this battlefield, and equip their caregivers with supernatural patience and love. Lord, I continue to pray for all those You have placed in my heart. Amen.

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