A prescription for prayer: an Atheist’s experience during an Evangelical mission trip
Anjuli Maharaj
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You wrote with delightful insight, “For some, the most effective prescription is a simple prayer.”

If I may build on that idea, “for all, the most important dimension is the healer’s prayerful openness to the needs of the patient, because that attitude enhances all of your knowledge and training.” I am not medically trained, but it was that disciplined attitude of openness and seeking developed in my prayer life and applied to my interactions with people that eventually led me to a very simple method of healing our son’s schizophrenia. Having always been interested in behavior, I used my training in research to uncover the reasons for some of his significant behaviors I observed that psychiatry and medicine had overlooked. I timed his intervals of greater and lesser confusion, first, in a counting task, and discovered they were regular at two-minute intervals.

In an age that looks for chemical solutions that may harm more than heal, I discovered how the physics of sound affects the ears, especially the right ear, to control the neurology of the brain. Alfred Tomatis estimated that, after oxygen and glucose, 90 per cent of the brain’s need for energy is derived from sound. How does that work? I discovered that right-ear-driven left-brain dominance in the integrative processes of the cerebral hemispheres defines the individual’s capacity for learning, including the learning of self-control. Audio deficits in the right ear define the range of sound deprivation that causes mental illnesses, with the exception of depression, which usually is determined by audio deficits in the left ear. Dr. Guy Bérard, a French otolaryngologist, identified the frequency deficits for the range of depression — and he healed about 97 per cent of his suicidal patients with his version of the Tomatis Method. Correcting audition properly “imbalances” the brain’s function so that the left half maintains its dominance.

From my experiences in healing Daniel, I deduced that high-frequency music therapy strengthens the stapedius muscle so that it can control the stapes’ transmission of the higher frequencies of sound into the inner ear and on to the brain. The right ear disproportionately feeds the left-brain. Furthermore, the asymmetry of the vagus’ recurrent nerves (being longer for the left-ear’s share of the communication neural pathway) gives preference to the more efficient right-ear-to-left-brain cybernetic loop, i.e., the right ear creates left-brain dominance — or fails to do so.

Much of what you have ever wanted to know about behavior, normal or aberrant, cascades from that paradigm. Some of the “mysteries” guarded and defended by religions are explained by this neurological paradigm, although my fellow Christians are not much interested in regarding their practices in that light. For me, being able to analyze a poem enhances rather than detracts from my appreciation of the work; similarly, understanding the neurology of some spiritual experiences enhances rather than detracts from my practice that produces those experiences.

Prayer — for both the one who prays and the one who is prayed for — does amazing things for the brain, one of which is re-setting the tensions between the hemispheres so they can integrate more efficiently at higher speeds, which affects the efficient functioning of many body systems. I hope I have helped to bridge that false dichotomy between religion and science, mind and body, energy and matter.

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