A highlight from 'Book Talk' Guest Dr. Andrew Newberg Author 'How Enlightenment Changes Your Brain'
Join us now. Welcome and who is really interesting book. It's called how enlightenment changes brain. The new science of transformation joined today by dr andrew newberg and he is her with the director of research at the mirna brennan center of integrity of medicine at thomas jefferson university hospital medical college. He joined us on the telephone today and the doctor. Good heavy with this. How are you today doing. Well thank you on your program. Chance to talk to a few minutes an opportunity to to to read through the book and Really kind of interesting Your research on this Enlightenment changing your brain it's not just I guess psychological physiological happens right absolutely we wanted to look at these incredibly powerful experiences the the most compelling experiences that people can have changed their lives to changed the way they think and of course they're changing your life and changing the way you think that it's gotta be changing your brain as well and we wanted to look at how we can put all that information together to help us understand the nature of these arguably the most important most powerful experiences human beings can have and see can help people find strategies and and and kind of a processed by helping them find their own paths towards this kind of experiences on their own kind of transformation or part of your research involved doing a brain scan studies right different Different people throughout the world. That must be kind of interesting. That's been kind of the the most fun thing that i've done in my career or we've we've had this Project of studying different practices religious and spiritual practices and experiences. Going on for fifteen twenty years looking at practices like meditation prayer. Speaking close sufis doing meditation. So that's really been. That was a very important essential element of this book. Which is what's going on in the brain. And how do we then relate that to the subjective experiences that people have during these enlightenment's states and that's the other very key piece of this book which is We realized that it's one thing to know. What's going on in the brain but we really have to understand how that happening to the person but they feel on the inside so we ran an online survey where we wound up with about two thousand people who provided narratives and descriptions of themselves and and other aspects of who they are but really the key was the the stories the narratives of these experiences. How they happen when they happen. What they experience so that we could put that information together with what we learn from our brain scanned and really starting to see a fairly consistent kind of pattern of corp patterns so to speak of these experiences and how they affect people how they affect the brains talk about the what. Enlightenment is literally and biggie right. Everybody has enlightenment moments. Say a ha or maybe understand something and then the big issues and maybe a total life. Transformation certainly understand something. You never did before that. That made sense accurate or absolutely. That's exactly right and we wanted to talk about the little this too because they give people a taste if you will of what. The biggie experiences are and as you mentioned it was a little experiences they could be kinda solve some big problem at work or relationship issue or maybe just discover like what what your career path should now the And but it at these. Are these small. Aha or eureka moment. That certainly changed the direction of somebody's life or surly said some light into a particular problem but they don't change the person to their core. That's the big enlightenment experience. Are these the experiences that would radically shift. Everything about the person that would lease can save. Even the religious and spiritual beliefs may change. They may have a change in the way in which they think about Life death meaning and purpose in life that may develop some calling in life of something that they need to do at all this comes about from the very radical kind of moment where everything that they've ever thought before is rearranged rewired and not only. Is there life rewired. But their brain is rewired as well the religious transformation i think of enlightenment as maybe being a religious thing although it doesn't have to be but the something actually do you know from your research. What triggers that since. It's a physiological as well why that happens at any particular time things you've mentioned which are very important so one is probably about eighty percent of the people that did our survey more religious or spiritual about twenty percent right nas. Three theus as these experiences can happen to everyone and anyone. I mean it doesn't you don't have to be a religious or spiritual person and you don't have to be scientists In fact go back a couple of hundred years. The age of enlightenment talked about enlightenment. Coming from rational thought and science not from Not from something religious or spiritual but ultimately when we started to look at how people had these experiences. What were the circumstances around them. We also learned something very important. Which is these experiences can come from a lot of different directions and they can just come out of the blue that can be spontaneous experiences and in fact one of my favorite ones is the experience that happened to a guy just driving his truck down the road and suddenly you know everything seems much more vivid and he saw the interconnectedness of all things and he had all these emotions welling up inside of him and that just happened on. You know other people. It happens to the church or during prayer or doing some kind of better teaser. Practice some people that happens during a loss you know green to suffering. Maybe the loss of of a spouse or child or maybe maybe just hitting rock bottom and thinking that there is meaningless so there's a lot of different paths towards enlightenment's we try to distill out after people. What those talents are. i mean. Obviously some pairs are better to follows another A near death. Experience may give you a sense of enlightenment but but you certainly don't want to You know you certainly don't want to you know hers. People work toward the near death experience. So part of what. We openly kind of look for are a more systematic way of helping people to find a path towards their own enlightenment. That's kind of work on by using this information to help people. And he talked about Certain sizes if that's the right word that people can do to To part of the brain is the right way to put them in. You can learn to hunt. Yes what we look at. His arm approaches have worked people. What are the things that we see as part of the core elements so for example. We talk about. I of have or has guides might many steps the need to think about taking off. Maybe the first step really is is just that ability to kind of open oneself up to this experience to say you know what this is something that i want. This is something that i wanna strive for. I want to be open to be willing to be able to change. That's a that's a very important first steps and then finding into practices. The rituals that might ultimately be useful for getting a person's brain to to kind of rev up so that when you have that moment of enlightenment where you just kind of give yourself to the experience and you just kind of let it all happen on you really have is very very powerful experience that happens to you and at moment that everything kinda shifts and everything kind of changes but but we give a lot of specific examples of practices that have worked for people in the past. We try to make them into kind of a denominational way and again you know we are data. Show that people from all different traditions and backgrounds can have these experiences so sometimes it's important to just kind of adapt a process to what works best for you and that in that sense there's an individualization to this process but there are these kind of global approaches that we try to provide our show people that can be useful in helping them figure out the best pass for themselves and you've been doing with research for a while is as up to becoming I guess You know part part of what Medicine wants to do. Psychiatry psychology in the medical field is a growing interest. There i believe it is you know. Sometimes people refer to this field as neuro theology You know it certainly the relationship between our