What happens in the brain during religious experience?

Mark Waldman, along with his colleague, Andrew Newberg, M.D., has shown how a variety of different spiritual practices, including devotional prayer and meditation, can change the function and structure of the brain. Meditation and contemplative prayer can reduce stress, and relieve anxiety and depression. These practices can also enhance memory and cognition, as well our capacities for empathy, compassion, and love. Waldman’s work demonstrates how simple techniques that anyone can use – young or old, religious or secular – may yield improvements in health and human happiness.

Mark Robert Waldman is a therapist and an Associate Fellow at the Center for Spirituality and the Mind, University of Pennsylvania, where he conducts research with Andrew Newberg on the neurological correlates of beliefs, morality, compassion, meditation, religious experiences, and spiritual practices.

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