Abstract: The Neuroscience of Spirituality
The neuroscience of spirituality is a profoundly interesting subject. The boundaries of neuroscience on the one hand, mainly include those of chemistry, physics, biology, anatomy, physiology, neurology and endocrinology – realms of the measurable and where only evidence based practice is acceptable. So, how do we push the boundaries of neuroscience into another dimension – the realm of the immeasurable?
Apparently there developed at least twenty-seven different definitions of ‘spirituality’ over the years, which have little in common. This reality alone gives us enough evidence of the fact that there is no measurable evidence to be found, once you enter the realm of ‘spirituality’. Nothing about spirituality is really measurable or evidence based! Does neuroscience really have to take cognisance of spirituality? Does spirituality really have to take cognisance of neuroscience? Both realms of study may also ask whether it is even ethical to fuse their horizons somehow.
Although the ‘neuroscience of spirituality’ is a complex, challenging and somehow even controversial subject, it is absolutely relevant as far as the future of Christian Counselling is concerned. As practitioners in this field in particular, but also in the fields of mental health and wellness in general, it is our responsibility and probably also our duty of care to deal with certain pending questions in this regard.
During this seminar we will deal with the generic theme of spirituality, and focus on the ‘key factor’ that links neuroscience and most spiritualities. We will also deal with the following interesting questions: Is spirituality only a scull bound process or is it also a social construct? Does spirituality have a compromising or enriching effect on our environment? Does it have an effect on the way we think about what happens with us and around us? Does it have an effect on how we (should) react or respond to environmental change? How do the spiritualities our clients adhere to, impact their neurobiology? Does compromised or enriched spirituality have a severe impact on the mental health of our clients? Do the spiritual practices our clients are involved in, have an effect on the establishment and reformation of their neural networks? How do they affect their impulsive and smart brain? How do they affect approach, avoidance, surviving or thriving neural patterns?
We will also deal with the neuroscience and clinical implications of a few spiritual / Christian practices like gratitude, thankfulness, forgiveness, prayer and verbal encouragement, and what effect they have on the therapeutic relationship.