Deepak Chopra, a physician, is the author, most recently, of "Brotherhood: Dharma, Destiny and the American Dream"
Prayer and meditation both come with user's manuals written by sages, seers and saints. The manuals point to a higher reality. In a skeptical age, it has taken brain scans and stress research to confirm that prayer and meditation are real. There is no doubt that both are useful, with observable physiological effects. On that basis alone, they can bring the benefit of inner calm and homeostasis, and most probably aid in the healing response, without needing belief.
Silence is an ambiguous issue in this area. For a believer, no audible answer to prayer is required; God is still listening, even though the conversation has silence at the other end. Meditation turns silence into something valuable on its own. Our brains change with every thought, because thoughts form a feedback loop that every cell eavesdrops on. In the tradition of meditation, silence also forms a feedback loop. A wordless voice says, “Here is peace.” Cells can eavesdrop on that message, too, and when they do, pathways in the brain are changed just as surely as when we respond to thoughts, sensations and emotions.
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