Praying and Psychedelics Change the Brain in Similar Ways

Praying and Psychedelics Change the Brain in Similar Ways

It has been said by many who use or abuse substances, and even some addicts, that they were looking for spiritual experience and this is what started their using path. This can be especially true of those who use psychedelic substances such as LSD, “magic” mushrooms, or ayahuasca. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist and director of research at Philadelphia’s Jefferson Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine, shared with the Huffington Post research on how the brain reacts similarly to psychedelic substances and prayer.

Newberg described the similarities in broad terms in his interview with the Huffington Post:

“Newberg explained one study that examined the brains of nuns who engaged in “centering prayer,” which is meant to create a feeling one oneness with God. The nuns’ brain scans showed similarities to people who use drugs like psilocybin mushrooms, Newberg said, and both experiences “tend to result in very permanent changes in the way in which the brain works.”

It is very important that we understand exactly how it is that these drugs work. If individuals who use them are seeking spiritual experience, we may ask why. Many individuals are seeking release from pain or trauma, and it seems – although we caution that the definitive research has not been done on these drugs yet – that in therapeutic conditions and in reasonably small doses, spiritual experience can be attained using these drugs and many traumas may be able to be healed. These are not “false” experiences as some claim; they make genuine, seemingly positive changes to the brain.

Psychedelics deserve to be researched. As Newberg says:

“I always use the analogy about me wearing glasses: When I wake up in the morning, it’s a very fuzzy world. I put my glasses on and I see the world clearly,” he said. “It’s possible these kind of experiences [with drugs] are not artificial or false, but really enable a person and a person’s brain to experience the world in a much more fundamental way.”

Give the research some thought….

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