Book review: How God Changes Your Brain

by Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman


I see this as two books in one: first, a basic look at the malleability of our brain and how it can be trained–specifically, how spiritual practices rebuild neural paths within our brain–and second, a practical guide to basic meditation.

I give the first half five stars. I didn’t read all of the second half. Guess that means I should drop my rating one star. It’s not that I’m not interested in meditation, because I’m thoroughly convinced of its spiritual and mental value; it’s that, like 95% of the rest of you, I ignore what’s good for me in favor of what I enjoy. And I enjoy learning about the brain.

This isn’t an evangelical book. It won’t direct you to Christianity or Eastern religions or any other belief system. Nor is it ragging on the evils of religion, as the title might make you think. It’s a very positive-minded book about the value of prayer, meditation, and belief. “God” does change your brain, because repeated mental exercise and directed thinking rebuilds neural paths for a healthier, happier life. If–as is my observation–Christians in general live happier, healthier lives than non-believers, there is a solid, scientific reason for that. The Christian brain is wired for spiritual well-being.

I emphasize Christians only because Christianity is my heritage. This book is written for skeptics and believers alike, and definitely worth reading.