- First, engaging in 12 minutes of personal reflection and prayer each day makes a profound impact on our brain. It strengthens a unique neural circuit that specifically enhances our social awareness and empathy and helps us love our neighbor by developing a heightened sense of compassion and subduing negative emotions. What is one of the most destructive feelings? Anger. What does anger do? It isolates us from other people. It cuts us off. It destroys community as we retract within ourselves.
- The second is neuroplasticity: Our brain isn’t fixed like a plastic mold, it’s nimble. Scientists once thought our brain grows and develops for several years and then reaches a point where it begins to decay and slowly erode. But we now know that brains continue to develop as a result of the experiences and behaviors we engage in every day. For example, Newberg says we can have memories that continue to take on new forms simply by the way we repeat them to ourselves. They actually become independent of the things we’re remembering.
- Third, because our brain will constantly change, we need to be mindful of whether we’re developing in good or destructive ways. The disciplines we engage every day, every week, every year, fundamentally shape the destiny of our life, and we need to be aware of the extent to which our behavior affects our brain.
- The fourth is that prayer and personal reflection help us maintain a healthy balance in life. I believe every one of us needs to spend a small portion of each day in personal prayer and reflection. I need it. You need it. No matter how busy we are, we’ve got to make space so we know our priorities and our values and can assess how well we’re living up to them. We need to ask ourselves daily, “What adjustments do I need to make to develop my life with God?”
Newberg describes eight things we can do to positively shape our brains. He begins with the value of maintaining personal religious faith and adds spending time each day in prayer and personal reflection. Also important is talking to others and being part of a community. Aerobic exercise helps our brain develop as well. So does yawning, which Newberg says focuses our attention. Another activity is listening to 12 minutes of relaxing music every day. Staying intellectually active and becoming a lifelong learner also benefit the brain. Finally, he says smiling builds community. People who smile attract others; those who frown or show anger push people away."
We pray that this information is one more bit of knowledge that will help you approach life with the daily discipline of prayer and Scripture reading. The article discusses how it has been proven to benefit you spiritually and physically, while producing greater empathy for others, and ultimately, unlocking your Godly destiny!