1) Spiritual practices, even when stripped of religious beliefs, enhance the neural functioning of the brain in ways that improve physical and emotional health. The brain is constantly changing, and two weeks of practicing a new behaviors (mindfulness/meditation) makes stable neurological cell changes, in 8 weeks habits. We are what we practice cognitively and behaviorally.
2) Prolonged practice (years) of contemplation on God and other spiritual values appears to permanently change the structure of brain circuits that control our moods and our experiential efficacy of our notions of God and self. Prolonged practice of comtemplation improves selective attention, goal attainment, and our sensory perceptions of God in all things.
3) Contemplative practices strengthen a specific neurological circuit--the PFC-Anterior Cingulate Cortex (ACC) that generates peacefulness, emotional control, social awareness, improved empathy, while slowing aging, and increasing compassionate action toward others.
4) Faith is the most important intentional component for enhancing brain health (both medical & emotional). Faith is def. as realistic, functional and imaginative optimism. The process promotes PFC-ACC and limbic right hemisphere balance in our brains. Faith can add a year to our life during a terminal illness. It improves mental and physical performance, goal attainment, and it enhances the efficacy of all medical procedures. Faith in one’s (or God’s) efficacy is also strongly associated with mental and physical hardiness (ability to cope with stress).
5) Peoples’ stated beliefs predict nothing about healthy brains, but loving religious practices (application of specific beliefs) are associated with emotional, social and physical health—and the Christian Fruits of the Spirit.
6) Authoritarianism that involves angry/fearful/aggressive religious experiences and practices actually harms compassionate areas of our brains; it ages our bodies; and it increases the chances of illness and dysfunctional behaviors. The "enemy is not authoritative religion; the enemy is anger, hostility, intolerance, separatism, extreme idealism, and prejudicial fear—be it secular, religious, or political.”
7) Spiritual practices that involve relaxation and controlled breathing enhance parasympathetic tone, which lowers the emotional and medical damage caused by stress. Being Christ-like inhibits the "Stress Response."
8) Spiritual practices that involve simple observation (a PFC activity), and the
observing of negative and positive emotions increases Anterior Cingulate activation, which decreases activity in limbic system involving anger, fear, and dysfunctional desires/cravings.
9) Intense, long-term contemplation of God and other spiritual values appears to permanently change the structure and strength of PFC- ACC systems, which are associated with the development of the Fruits of the Spirit. Long term meditation also increase right parietal, and right temporal brain systems, which give rise to our loving experience with God, self and others; Christ-like Meditation increases compassionate acts, and lessens emotional distress. To explore how your brain expresses the Fruits of the Spirit download the provided PDF Brain Based Fruits of the Spirit.
10) Two weeks of compassion and relaxation meditative practice strengthens PFC and ACC circuits that generates peacefulness, improved attention, emotional control, social awareness, improved empathy;
at 8 weeks it starts to slow aging, enhances memory capacity, and increases compassionate action toward others.
11) Mindfulness Practice: Involves the PFC and ACC, and improves spiritual compassionate detachment (non-reactive awareness, which lowers fear, anger and dysfunctional desires/cravings.)