Disconnect, for a moment, from the argument of whether prayer is real. That’s for another time and another place. The fact remains that it is an ancient, powerful, and widely practiced behavior. What is it about the human brain that encourages so many to appeal to a higher power? And what is happening inside the brain when people pray?
When we look at prayer through the lens of neuroscience, we can make an interesting observation: Talking to God is not really different from talking to one’s friends and neighbors.
The brain’s evolution was a highly social process and involved complex problem solving. Yet, invisible entities are not a force of natural selection. Check out this fMRI study of religious folks, and you’ll see that religious people’s brains view prayer as communication with an actual physical entity.
Believer or not, it’s good conversation fodder for your next cocktail party. For sure, it appears that religion is far more than illusion for the religious.
“Staying true” to myself (or, more representative of my parlance, “KEEPING IT
REAL”) is a concept I have struggled with for all of my life in a way that — and I’m only guessing based on the reactions of the small amount people (including therapists) that I’ve talked about this with — few have. I…
A skeleton in the Capella Sansevero, an ancient Italian church which has been turned into a private museum of anatomical petrification. The skeleton was given an injection before death which somehow preserved all veins, arteries and capillaries. (Photo by Evans/Three Lions/Getty Images). Circa 1955
SATURDAY MAY 19th 2012
“We have something to look forward to. The first day of nothing.” –Retarded man to crackhead girlfriend on bus.
This weird little balding man dressed in a tucked in smart plaid shirt, reminiscent of Tom Noonan in Manhunter sits ahead of me on the bus, regretting his mistake of not taking the open seat next to me. He keeps looking back, wishing for a better view of my feet. You see, about 5 minutes ago before we boarded, he had attempted small talk by telling me he liked my sandals. He asked if they were comfortable and I said they were fine. This excited little man then proceeded to express to me that he had recently taken a reflexology course in New York and he mused that feet were “somewhat of a fetish”, “especially female gladiator type feet”, and my shoes reminded him of such. He now sits in the empty seat after dashing to retrieve it when it was left open, and he is on a phone call desperately trying to get off of it in order before the attractive and sweaty 20 something basketball player sits next to him and blocks his view of what he’s going to jerk off to later: my magic gladiator sandals.
Behind me a transsexual explains to a a bearded lumberjack about transgendered issues and he is genuinely interested. They have just met and this lumberjack is genuinely interested in understanding the different terminology involved to give proper respects to this other person. It’s a normal conversation that could just be about a cup of coffee.
I just hiked up to the Observatory to watch the eclipse. There was a really attractive guy sitting with his adorable dog and I asked to pet the dog. I pet it for a minute then thanked him and left. He totally gave me space to have a conversation but I just left. I think I was just scared I wasn’t hot enough. Stupid. I spend so much time just watching couples and families interact with eachother and thinking of them as animals. So simple, so happy.
The prefrontal cortex is a higher brain function that is only recently evolved- develop it. It is WILLPOWER. Utilizing the “stop thinking about this” or during meditation “coming back to the breath”- the simple realization and practice of changing your focus to focus better actually develops the brain. This is evolution, we developed this part of the brain in order to make better decisions and live in a productive society.
The realization of Prefrontal cortex function. We are almost all the same biologically. We are not special and don’t really have special magical feelings. If my prefrontal cortex was physically altered, my entire “personality” could change. Nothing is that unique. Sexuality is a function that we all have, and “love” is just a product in order to keep reproduction valid. Move past the fantasy-like feeling that “love” delivers, and understand that is is not specific to you- it is a series of chemical reactions that occur in order to secure you with another human being in order to keep the species alive. That’s cool though. You know why? Because of that creepy guy on the bus. That is magic.
Why am I so fascinated with bacteria, parasites, fungus, viruses and disease? I constantly read about biochemical warfare, insects, and every dangerous microcosm that functions in the universe. Perhaps it is because they are so small, and so intricate. The attraction is born out of fear, and slowly transforms into wonder. It’s like the ear from Blue Velvet. There’s an underbelly to everything, dark and looming beneath the surface.
Disease transmission through insects fascinates me, and drives me to relate it to the film Magnolia for some reason right now. A chain of events, all interconnecting and relating to each other. Karma. Coincidence. Everything leads to something.
“Seventeen years before Katrina, the Foremosan Termite lost its most dedicated foe. Jeffrey LaFage, a Louisiana State University AgCenter entomologist, was out for dinner in the French Quarter in 1989 to celebrate the start of his new program to eliminate termites from the Quarter. As he walked through the Quarter with a friend after dinner, a robber approached them both and show and killed Jeffrey. His death set termite control in the area back by years”
“The seams of the flood walls that were supposed to protect the city of New Orleans were made of sugar cane waste, a treat that Formosean Termites cannot resist.”
-Wicked Bugs, Amy Stewart