Finding God's Spot
Journey of Healing from Mental Illness
WELCOME TO TODAY'S WORSHIP SERVICE BY THE SWEDENBORGIAN ON-LINE COMMUNITY
October 10, 2010
Journey to the God Spot:
Healing from Mental Illness
Light a candle
23For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.
25And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
4054. The brain, like heaven, belongs to the realm of ends which are uses, for whatever flows in from the Lord is an end looking towards the salvation of the human race. This is the end which reigns in heaven, and also which as a result reigns in the brain, for the brain, where man's mind is seated, looks to ends in the body, that is to say, so that the body may serve the soul and that the soul may be eternally happy.
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, believe they have found the ‘God Spot’, an area of the brain with becomes hyper sensitive and stimulated during moments of deep religious reflection. Located within the frontal cortex, this area is concurrent with where Eastern Religions perceive the ‘Third Eye’.
A new field has developed called neurotheology: it combines study of the brain and theology.
People in prayer and meditation show brain change: a study of Tibetan Monks and Franciscan Nuns as they engaged in deep meditation and prayer found that the parietal lobe, the area associated with time and space, showed very little activity. With limited neuronal activity, the parietal lobe is unable to distinguish the boundary between the external world and the physical self. This could account for the mediators reporting a ‘sense of unity’ with the universe and a ‘mingling with God’ during intense trance (Newberg et al 2001, p7).
Researchers have learned that meditation causes real changes in the brain; it can lead one to the "God spot" of deep peace, love, and healing.
Increasingly "neuro theologians" are learning that many forms of meditation, prayer, and experience with the arts can lead us to this spot.
Art therapists are finding that drawing, singing, dancing and other arts can lead us to God's spot.
This past week has been mental illness awareness week. We are honoring the ways God's healing works in mental illness. There is a lot of theory about how prayer, meditation, and the arts change the brain to bring about wholeness. But let's look at a real life story of how God has helped a family become whole through a journey with mental illness.
Phyllis is a mother in her 50's, living in California with her husband and teen-aged so, Erik. They have four children [ages 35, 30, 21, and Erik who is 19.] She registered with our community this past Thursday, and we invited her to join the chat that evening. She logged in and joined our lively discussion about mental illness and healing. She shared her own family's journey with us. I was quite moved by it, and asked her to tell me more about it. She wrote a beautiful account of a journey through pain to healing. She has offered to share her story with us in today's message, and will join us on Thursday during our chat to talk more with us.
[if you are registered with the web community and logged in, you can view the family photos for Phyllis' family.]
..... was always a happy-go-lucky kid.
However, his senior year of high school we and the staff at his high school began to notice a change in Erik. He began to develop a shorter and shorter fuse and would become angry with the other students as well as the staff.This was so unlike him. He also wore a beanie 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We just figured he was a teenage boy and it was his favorite beanie.
Around Christmas 2009 he was asked to remove his beanie for a picture. He became very anxious and wanted to leave. We realized then there was definitely something more going on. He finally told us that he hated his ears. They stuck out, kids made fun of him, and he was ugly. There wasn't any truth to any of this but it was very real to him. He was struggling in school and we told him that, as a graduation present, we would pay for otoplasty (ear pinning) if it was that important to him. We figured even though we weren't seeing it, it was worth it if it was affecting his life to that degree. He had the otoplasty and everything was great....for about three weeks. Then when he would look in the mirror, which was all the time, he was unhappy with the job the surgeon did, his ears still were huge, and he needed otoplasty revision. I made the comment to him, "If you do anything more to your ears, they will look like Michael Jackson's nose." When I said that a little bell went off in my head. I remember reading about some strange disorder it was believed that Michael Jackson suffered from. So, I began googling Michael Jackson, disorder, anything I could think of. It finally took me to a website about Body Dysmorphic Disorder. When I read the symptoms I told my husband, "Oh my gosh, this is Erik!" The disorder had begun to take over his life.
His ugliness was all he could talk about and he was miserable. He was having an especially rough day when, on August 31st, 2009 he came into my bedroom shaking and crying and told me he could not live his life like this! I had to believe he was serious. I took him to Behavioral Health and he was admitted because he was suicidal. We were totally blind sided by all this. I had e mailed or phoned anyone and everyone whose name came up associated with the disorder, which I will refer to as BDD from here on. The day that he was admitted a psychiatrist from Stanford who specializes in the disorder called me and provided a wealth of information. He recommended a book called "The Broken Mirror" by Dr. Katherine Phillips which is basically the BDD bible. With his help and the info in the book I was able to understand more about the disorder as well as the proper treatment
When he was released from mental health I insisted that they add BDD to their diagnosis of major depressive disorder and anxiety. Then our quest for help began. Since I was new to this mental illness scene, I thought any psychologist could treat the disorder and any psychiatrist could prescribe the proper medication. Wrong!!!!!! He was drugged to the point he slept all the time and the therapist didn't have a clue how to get through to him. As a mother, I felt totally helpless and I have to say, it was the toughest thing I have ever had to deal with. I wanted so much for him to get better but I couldn't fix it. There was one time, a few months into his treatment, that I looked at my husband and said, "Are we ever going to get our son back? Have we lost him in this world of his forever?"
Then, I began to pray! See, it is times like this when you play Let's Make a Deal with God. I was raised in a Presbyterian Church, attended a Catholic Church for the last ten years, and recently, a Hindu Temple. In between I have attended services at just about every denomination that exists in the world today. I have a copy of, and am reading, many Holy Books. As a result of my quest for knowledge, I began to realize that there isn't any "one true church" but many paths to the same destination. There are many more similarities, than differences, and I chose to focus on the similarities.
So, I asked for God to heal my son. I also prayed that he could guide us to the proper mental health professionals.
Sometimes, when I would prayed, I would pray so hard and so often that I wondered if anyone was even listening to me. Then I realized that I simply wasn't "believing". I was hoping that God would heal my son, and I was asking Him to, but deep inside I had my doubts and I wasn't "believing". That is when I decided to put all my eggs in one basket and all my faith in God. Once I began to do that, I no longer viewed the bumps in the road as anything more than a speed bump. It slowed things down a bit but once we got over that little bump it was full speed ahead. He still has a ways to go but his progress has been amazing. I am so thankful that we were able to diagnose his condition so early , while he was so young and provide the best possible care for him.
At first, when I would pray for God to heal Erik, I would pray repeatedly asking for the same thing. Like I said, sometimes I wanted to say, "Hey, is anybody listening?" I seriously started searching the bible for answers. I read Mark 11: 23-26 and Matthew 21:12 and started thinking maybe I am being selfish here, always asking God for something. Why do I keep asking him for the same thing? Am I really not expecting an answer? Maybe there is something in all of this that is being asked of me but I'm not listening. I just keep asking away. Then I started to change the way I prayed. It was more like a conversation with God. Conversations are best when there are two participates and both also listen.
Music has certainly played a part. One of the songs I discovered and listen to often because it had new meaning for me was Josh Groban's, You Lift Me Up. What also is interesting is that Erik began listening to jazz and classical music. That came out of nowhere! He always listened to what typical teenagers listen to but when he first began treatment his taste in music also began to change.
Michael Buble and Josh Groban are two of his favorites now. He didn't even know who they were before.
Anyway, this is our story. There is hope for those suffering from mental illness. You need to seek out mental health professionals who are knowledgeable about your particular disorder. Don't be afraid to ask questions and don't hesitate to make a change if necessary, and there is a good chance it will be necessary. Not everyone is an expert in everything. Therapy will probably be one of the hardest things you will ever do but with proper treatment, it works! It is so worth it! Sometimes it takes several tries to get the care that is best for you. Roll up your sleeves and learn everything you can about the disorder. You will need to be armed and dangerous when you take on the challenge. Look at it as a challenge. Every day there are challenges and they can be turned into something positive or negative. Go with the positive!!!! Most of all..........PRAY! Pray and believe! I have had many people comment on how I was able to take charge of this with Erik from the diagnosis to obtaining the proper treatment. I am convinced I really didn't have anything to do with it. Or, rather, I could not have done it on my own. Thank God for answered prayer. Thank God for leading us to all the right people and allowing all the pieces of the puzzle to come together as it needed to happen. So, the best advice I can give is......Pray, Believe, then let go and let God!
Don't give up! Don't ever give up!
HOW THIS CONNECTS WITH SWEDENBORG:
All of this, of course, is what our Swedenborg wrote about over 300 years ago. He believed that all of heaven was like a Grand Person, with each part of the body playing a special role. The brain is particularly important:
"By the human mind are meant its two faculties, which are called the understanding and the will. The understanding is the receptacle of the light of heaven, which in its essence is wisdom, and the will is the receptacle of the heat of heaven, which in its essence is love."
It was important to Swedenborg to allow opposites to work together:
science and religion
matter and spirit
wisdom and love
humanity and God
What we consider dualities are, in fact, a holographic whole. Within that whole, they are "distinguishably one." Each quality continues to exist in its uniqueness, and they blend into a wholeness that cannot exit without both of them.
This concept is a perfect way to understand the human brain. We have two parts to our brain: right and left. To be whole, we have to embrace each side. Yet, we live in a culture that honors the left brain and ignores the right. Sometimes, it takes a stroke or brain injury or mental illness to push a person into their right brain where creativity lives. We cannot find our "God spot" of love and peace without using the right side of the brain. People like Erik can show us the pathway there.
Through prayer, love, and music; Phyllis has helped her son to connect to his God spot; and it is there that he finds wholeness and healing. And Phyllis and Erik show us that each of us can get there, too; no matter what challenges we face in life.
Extinguish your candle.
Close the Bible
Go in peace, staying connection with the God spot in your brain ... and in your life.
There are many places that tell stories of these healings in peoples lives:
Jill Taylor's story from A Stroke of Insight
TED [a video about her story]
To learn more about Erik, and to share your own thoughts, log in to the Discussion Forum.
Phyllis will join us for a chat on Thursday at 9 PM Eastern [6 PM Pacific] in the Fellowship Lounge.