Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 960–978 | Cite as

Contemplative Meditation and Neuroscience: Prospects for Mental Health

Psychological Exploration

Abstract

Numerous studies show that personal spirituality developed through prayer positively influences mental health. Phenomenological and neuroscientific studies of mindfulness, an Eastern meditative prayer form, reveal significant health benefits now yielding important insights useful for guiding treatment of psychological disorders. By contrast, and despite its practice for millennia, Christian meditation is largely unrepresented in studies of clinical efficacy. Resemblances between mindfulness and disciplinary acts in Christian meditation taken from the ancient Greek practice of askesis suggest that Christian meditation will prove similarly beneficial; furthermore, psychological and neuroscientific studies suggest that its retention of a dialogical and transcendent praxis will additionally benefit social and existential psychotherapy. This paper thus argues that study of contemplative meditation for its therapeutic potential is warranted.

Keywords

Mindfulness Contemplation Askesis Social neuroscience Psychotherapy Existential Mental health 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neiswanger Bioethics InstituteLoyola University ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Ethics and Culture, School of MedicineUniversity of NavarraPamplonaSpain
  3. 3.ChicagoUSA

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