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Pastoral Psychology

, Volume 60, Issue 3, pp 477–489 | Cite as

The Art of Contemplative and Mindfulness Practice: Incorporating the Findings of Neuroscience into Pastoral Care and Counseling

  • Kirk A. Bingaman
Article

Abstract

This article draws on recent neuroscientific research evidence that demonstrates the plasticity and malleability of the human brain to make the case for greater use of contemplative and mindfulness practices in pastoral care and counseling. It explores the negativity bias of the brain as it has evolved and argues that mindful awareness practices have the ability to work against this bias in favor of less fearful and anxious perspectives on life, including interpersonal relationships. Contending for a higher evaluation of Christian practices than beliefs, it specifically targets the doctrine of original sin as a contributor to this negativity bias, and advocates the use of Christian meditative practices, especially the Centering Prayer, as a means to foster brain resculpting that is integral to the experience of becoming aware of oneself as a new creation.

Keywords

Spiritual practice Neuroscientific research Neuroplasticity Neuroimaging Brain resculpting Mindfulness meditation Obsessive compulsive disorder Stress Spiritual mantras Mindful awareness Psychoneuroimmunology Mental functions Interpersonal relationships New creation Negativity bias Original sin Centering prayer 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Graduate School of Religion and Religious EducationFordham UniversityBronxUSA

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