Q. Is there any evidence that prayer/meditation does anything for the brain or body beyond personal superficial comfort?
A. Hundreds of studies and several books related to the benefits of prayer/meditation are available. Dr. Dale Matthews of Georgetown University evaluated 210 of the studies, all of which concluded that prayer / meditation was beneficial.
- Benefits have been identified to both the individual doing the praying and the person for whom it is being done (even when that person doesn’t know he/she is being prayed for).
- Dr. Herbert Benson (The Relaxation Response) stated that the positive physiological benefits have most often and most effectively been elicited through forms of prayer.
- Prayer / meditation may help a person upshift more quickly, especially if prayer is one of the strategies the individual uses to allay fear.
- Prayer / meditation has been shown to smooth the electrical conduction between the two cerebral hemispheres, and can strengthen immune system function.
You may want to refer to Brain References—Spirituality and the Brain for additional information.