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Neurospirituality in Deep Recovery

Neurospirituality, as we use it here, is the practice of Faith through sincerely held religious observance, that changes the brain. It includes various practices of prayer, contemplation, worship and caring connection (fellowship). It changes our neurologic connections and switches on and off brain circuits that benefit us in many ways. In short, it creates a more God-Shaped brain. Of course, we are not talking about the outside shape, but the way connections are made across different regions of the brain. It means the neural networks that develop and deepen have more and more in common with the way God is. It is a transformation of the mind on a neurobiological level! Participating in the divine nature through these practices creates a more God-shaped brain.

The opposite is true too. If you nurture bitterness and live in the past, your neural connections will grow stronger in those regions and weaker in others. Your longing for the past will only grow, along with your sense of nostalgia and loss. If your tastes are grotesque and immoral, your behavior will follow, and your mind will close and darken along that path. Darkness indeed! When you live in anxiety about the future, your neural connections will grow more dense there, and the emotional center of your brain will tell your glands to release hormones that deepen your state of anxiety. We don’t want these neural networks to become our unhappy home.

Neurospirituality is a recognition of what already exists: sincerely held religious practice hacks brain function, producing new neural connections, deepening new neural networks in healthy, life-giving ways. In this way, the divine image becomes reactivated in us. Let’s see how that works with the passage below:

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be made known to all people. The Lord is near. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. 9 And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” [1]

As you are used to reading it, it sounds like one more list of religious obligations to perform. But read as a blueprint for neurospiritual change, it becomes a roadmap to the God-Shaped Brain. This is how we participate in the Divine Nature God intended for us.

[1] W. Hall Harris III et al., eds., The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Php 4:4–9.

Taken from The Deep Recovery Course, Matt Mirabile, pg 69, 2023

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