How God Changes Your Brain

Notes taken by Nelson Silva.

By beholding we become changed

Looking unto Jesus we obtain brighter and more distinct views of God, and by beholding we become changed. Goodness, love for our fellow men, becomes our natural instinct. We develop a character which is the counterpart of the divine character. Growing into His likeness, we enlarge our capacity for knowing God. More and more we enter into fellowship with the heavenly world, and we have continually increasing power to receive the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of eternity. COL. 355

  • Scientists used to believe that neurons deteriorated with old age, but the mechanisms are far more complicated than that. For example, we now know that certain neurochemicals wear out, and this alters nerve cell activity and growth. Sometimes neural connections die off, and sometimes they become too active and overconnected, bringing chaos and confusion to our internal organizational maps. 

  • Brain-scan technology allows us to watch a living brain in action, and what we see is amazing. Each feeling and thought changes the blood flow and electrochemical activity in multiple areas of the brain, and it appears that we never repeat the exact same feeling or thought. In fact, the mere act of recalling a single memory changes its connec­tion to other neuronal circuits…..another interesting example of the enormous plasticity of the brain.

  • Going to church decreases your chances of dying by 30%  35%

  • anger cancels out parts of the brain that control emotional activity

  • sound, playing instruments and pleasant music deepens the emotional experience, enhances visual and auditory processing and improves attention and the processing of emotions

  • singing  plays an important role in memory formation and cognition 

The anterior Cingulate (inner negotiator) allows us to experience empathy and compassion. Enhances Cognition. communication and creativity

It’s a mediator and a regulator between the limbic system (anger & fear social awareness, intuition, and empathy) and the frontal lobe (Logic & reason): your logic, reason, attention, language skills, and voluntary motivation - Logic and reason subdue anger and fear

A strong frontal-anterior cingulate circuit also inhibits anxiety, depression and rage

  • Two natures - Rom 7: 15 “I don’t understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Which nature would you feed?

  • Produces the type of church member you want (Nice Saints)

Eight  Best Ways to exercise your brain (Food and sleep are also important)

8) Smile -  (Proverbs 15:13) 

Smiling stimulates brain circuits that enhance social interaction, empathy, and mood. In fact, smiling has such a powerful effect on the brain that if you just see a picture of a smiling face, you will invol­untarily feel happier and more secure. Conversely, frowning (or look­ing at frowning faces) stimulates feelings of anger, disgust, and dislike…… ( In one controversial study, Botox injections into frown lines appeared to alleviate subjective feelings of depression). However, we do recommend that you listen to "happy" music 

  • Whenever you have a spare moment during the day pray and smile, smile when you are using the elevator, waiting in line at the supermarket and you’ll notice that the people around calm down, you’ll feel better, you’ll exude empathy and people will respond with kindness

7) Stay intellectually Active - (Psalm 119: 9, 98, 105; 19: 7; 2 Tim 3:15-16)

Engaging in religious and spiritual issues and problems will also stimulate brain function. Reading scriptures, reflecting on meaning, discussing issues with friends, and seriously thinking about the deepest issues facing humanity are outstanding ways of activating complex cir­cuits in your brain.

6) Consciously relax (1 Kings 18:16-45 NIV - Elijah on Mount Carmel)

Calming music, by the way, has been shown to sharpen your cognitive skills and improve your sense of spiritual well-being.

5) Yawn

Yawn before giving an important talk, yawn before you take a test, and yawn while you meditate or pray because it will intensify your spiritual experience (see 183)yawn before you tackle a difficult problem, and yawn when you find yourself in a conflict with another person. If you do aerobic exercises yawn at various times and you may feel immediate improvement in motor coordination. Yawning will help reduce stress, literally in a matter of minutes

4) Meditate - Intensive prayer - (Psalm 119:11 You word I have hidden in my heart that I might not sin against you - Jesus all night prayer)

If you stay in a contemplative state for twenty minutes to an hour, your experiences will tend to feel more real, affecting your nervous system in ways that enhance physical and emotional health. Anti Stress hormones and neurochemicals are released throughout the body, as well as pleasure-enhancing and depression-decreasing neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. Even ten to fifteen minutes of meditation appears to have significantly positive effects on cogni­tion, relaxation, and psychological health, and it has been shown to re­duce smoking and binge-drinking behavior

  • The University Of Kentucky found that students who meditated before a test did better than those who exercise, took naps and even caffeine (which helps but not that much)

  • But religious and spiritual contemplation changes your brain in a profoundly different way because it strengthens a unique neural cir­cuit that specifically enhances social awareness and empathy while sub­ duing destructive feelings and emotions.

  • Our research with memory patients suggests that meditation can help maintain a healthy structural balance that will slow the aging process.

  • Meditation helps patients with depression, anger and Alziermer and parkinson

3) Aerobic exercise - (1 Timothy 4: 8)

  • Vigorous exercise strengthens every part of the brain and the body

  • Exercise can be viewed as a form of meditation because it involves sustained concentration and a deliberate regulation of body movements and breathing. Studies have even shown that it enhances relaxation and spiritual well-being.

  • Rebuild damage circuits caused by brain lesions and strokes. Improves cognition and academic performance; it repairs the neurological damage created by stress. It enhances plasticity. It boosts immune functions. It reduces anxiety. It can be used to treat depression and it is just as effective as antidepressants. In fact in older patients, exercise is equivalent to twelve sessions of psychodynamic psychotherapy. It slows down the loss of tissue as you age, protects you from Alzheimer’s disease and reduces your vulnerability to chronic illness. 

  • A forty-minute cardiovascular workout every other day is enough to keep your brain healthy.

  • Combine them. Yawn, pray, relax, and eat well (Low-fat vegetarian diet).

  • A church did a fitness and spiritual program. Participants had significant weight and waist reduction, total fat reduction and lower sodium intake.

2) Dialogue with others (Ecl 4: 12)A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Gen 2:18) It is not good for man to be alone; (Acts 2: 42) - They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Eph 4: 12 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Col 4: 6

Dialogue requires social interaction, and the more social ties we have, the less our cognitive abilities will de­cline. In fact, any form of social isolation will damage important mechanisms in the brain leading to aggression, depression, and various neuropsychiatric disorders

  • Universities are fighting the loneliness young people are experiencing

1) Faith (Without Faith you cannot please God. Mustard seed)

  • To be spiritually inclined you have to rely on faith

  • Faith is equivalent with hope, optimism and the belief that a positive future awaits us.

  • Highly optimistic people had greater activation in the same parts of the anterior cingulate that are stimulated by meditation. 

  • Faith is essential for maintaining a healthy brain, but if you exclude exercise and companionship, you are going to cripple your health

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