Scientific studies have continued to link religious experience to activity in the brain. But now the new area of interest is the right parietal lobe, discovered to be the home of the ego.
According to scientists, the higher the activity in this part of the brain, the more subjects identify a sense of self. A ‘sense of self’ creates an awareness of who we are, what we do, and how we are perceived. This in turn develops our ego, however deluded it may often be.
Who was it that once said “the ego is the greatest trickster”? It tells us exactly what we want to hear and what we want to believe.
With this in mind, it comes as no surprise that scientists are now discovering that those who walk a more spiritual path, with lessened ego, have reduced activity in this “ego” part of the brain.
Those of us unlikely to turn into monks, but who wish to quiet the mind and lessen the ego, have a few options at our disposal. Art.
Studies show that experiencing art and nature reduces ego activity. But lovers of art, music, and environments void of modernism, have known this for some time. Perhaps we didn’t know the scientific name for it, or exactly what the mechanics of the mind were, but we felt the sense of quiet and peace that came with it. A spiritual experience in its own right and more powerful than any echoed words of preachers from pulpits.
However, everyone hasn’t had quite the same experience.
Others, not exposed (or not exposed enough) to such treasures, have found it unsettling to be in environments dominated by nature, or when exposed to music that is not mainstream junk, to art that is so powerfully felt that it cannot be expressed in words.
The reason for this may be because that part of the brain, that right parietal lobe, home of the ego, is so strongly defined that not only has it become a measure by which we assess our surroundings, but it’s become the only thing we know (or think we know): I, me.
This “I, me” has become our reality. Anything away from “I, me” destabilizes a fictitious sense of what’s real – a feeling that is cemented into firm belief by synaptic connections every time the “I/me” thought is fired off. Over time, the brain solidifies in it’s thinking and new ways of thought create physical neural re-routes that are difficult for a mind that’s already set in one thought mode. As such, when immersed in nature, an area void of direction or influence, a space void of ego, the mind begins to panic. Anything that quiets this sense of “I” causes a state of restlessness because we are far removed a from one of the most the ego – a toxic element that entombs us in a false sense of security.
If it hasn’t already been done, it would be interesting to research the effects of those with strong right parietal lobe activity and how the brain responds to heavy and continued exposure to elements that lead to spiritual experiences – such as art, music, nature.
I have a feeling it would be a lot of like rehab for most, even to those of us who feel like we’re Shaolin masters with our yoga and daily online meditations and words of wisdom.
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