The Neurotheology of Breathwork

Uncategorized Aug 14, 2018

I’ve recently been fascinated by the work of Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neuroscientist who founded a field of study called, “Neurotheology”, the science of mystical spiritual experiences and the brain. Dr. Newberg takes brain scans of those in intense states of enlightenment, such as meditating monks, praying nuns, mystics visualizing something sacred and others and has discovered profound similarities in brain states in those having transcendent experiences of awakening.

In his Ted Talk, he describes the 4 core elements of enlightenment experiences based on his brain scans:

  1. A feeling of the extreme emotional intensity from activating the limbic system.
  2. A sense of incredible clarity and understanding from the lobes of the brain rewiring and rebalancing. 
  3. Sense of all-pervading unity, oneness or connection as activity decreases in the parietal lobe, which gives us our sense of self in orientation to the world around us.
  4. Surrender, letting go and transformation as activity in the frontal lobe melts away.

Here’s what’s so amazing: Dr. Newberg has found is that these experiences transform the way people think and behave in a permanent way. Normally the brain changes slowly, but these practices with moments of ecstasy and mystical enlightenment create shifts in seconds that may otherwise take a lifetime.

Does any of this sound familiar to any of your breath lovers? Yeah, for me too. Emotional intensity, clarity, oneness and transformation are all common effects of breathwork sessions!

As you already know, I already did a mini-study, creating a series of brain scans with three subjects with Dr. Dani of Zen Brain Lab to test out my new Feel More Ecstasy Online Breathwork Course (coming soon!) and found some incredible results. Dr. Newberg’s findings make me curious to learn even more about what’s really going on in our brains and how Breath of Bliss can be modified in creative ways that can increase the possibility of these enlightenment experiences. 

So I wrote Dr. Newberg a letter and asked him if he's done any research on connected breathing and if he may be willing to take I AM PASSION for a test drive in his lab… I’ll keep you in the loop if/when I hear back from him!

Until then, I hope next time you experience a positive, overwhelming experience that seems to take over your entire being during a breathwork, you know that you're likely increasing neuroplasticity in your brain, rewiring connections and fundamentally changing your ability to experience and see the world in a new way.

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