Wednesday, July 15, 2009

How Your Right Brain Nurtures Your Spirit

It isn’t for want of spiritual resources that many Christians find themselves starving. It is for want of spiritual experiences with God: real, moving, transforming engagements. The trouble is, that’s not how we approach Christian nurture. Most of our spiritual food comes by way of sermons, books, and Bible studies that speak to the mind but often miss the heart, the place of divine encounter.

Words are the primary form of communication in each of these mediums--the language of the left brain. The left brain uses words to understand and digest experiences. But the left brain cannot experience—God or anything else. The left brain can only interpret our experiences but the right brain does the experiencing.

That’s why right brain activities like art contemplation, imagining prayer and sensory exercises are so valuable as spiritual practices. They open up the right side of our brain to help us perceive and experience God. They access our soul and awaken our spirit to the presence of God. Our right brain positions the heart for divine encounter.

Consider the following statements:
We act on what we believe.
We believe only what is real to us.
What is real becomes real through experience.

Does this make sense to you? Does it also explain why information about God doesn’t transform us? We don’t act on what is not real to us.

Why not give your right brain a try? Let me provide a suggested exercise:

  • Sit quietly in a comfortable posture and take in several deep breaths; seek to quiet your mind as you listen to your breathing and relax your body.
  • Continue to take in several deep breaths, only this time, imagine the color of the air you are exhaling.
  • After you envision the color, ask God to reveal what this color reflects about your inner life—a joy you cherish, a sadness you carry, or a worry you harbor.
  • Invite God into your experience of this emotion.
  • Afterwards, write in a journal about your experience, using the color of your breath.

P.S. If this post intrigues you, then check out a workshop I am offering called The Art of Faith: Awakening Your Senses to the Wonder of God

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