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Our research focus is on the healing effects of infrequently studied theistic contemplation. Our research has already shown promising results, which have been presented at major international secular and religious conferences, several recorded on our YouTube site.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Patients suffering from PTSD have reported experiencing the healing effects of practicing Centering Prayer. We taught Centering Prayer to the chaplains at the Houston VA hospital, which has several floors of PTSD patients. In collaboration with the head chaplain, we formulated a research protocol to teach Centering Prayer to volunteer patients and for the VA’s psychiatrists to evaluate if there were healing benefits. The VA psychiatrists and head chaplain were ready to proceed pending the availability of funding.

Parkinson's Disease
Parkinson's Disease

A research project has been proposed based on anecdotal evidence directly observed by the M.D. neuroscientists, Yanin Machado and Mauricio Chinchilla, who taught Centering Prayer as a last resort to four treatment-resistant patients. All experienced fewer freezes, less depression, no nightmares and increased sleep, appetite and interest in living.

Palliative and Hospice Care
Palliative and Hospice Care

As reported in conferences, our research shows promising results of Centering Prayer in lessening the fear of dying in palliative and hospice care patients. The first phase results are currently under peer-review for publication in the Journal of Religion and Health. Preliminary QEEGt and continuous EEG brain scans plus anatomical assessments justify increasing statistical significance with more subjects.

Depression and Bipolar Diseases
Depression and Bipolar Disorder

We negotiated a research agreement on behalf of the Institute for Spirituality and Health (ISH) with Baylor College of Medicine. The first successfully completed research project showed the neural correlates of the healing effects of discursive meditation on patients who suffered from depression and traumatic memories. Encouraged by this preliminary research and related research, we propose to study the healing effects of Centering Prayer on patients suffering post-partem, post-stroke, COVID quarantine, etc. depression. **


[1] Baldwin, Philip Neural Correlates of Healing Prayers, Depression and Traumatic Memories: A Preliminary Study. (Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 6 July 2016).

[2] Miller, Lisa Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and Spirituality - A Study in Adults at High and Low Familial Risk for Depression (JAMA Psychiatry, 27 March 2014).

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Historical Perspective

In 1999, Andrew Newberg, M.D. studied a group of Franciscan nuns who had been practicing Centering Prayer.  It was the first brain scan of Christian contemplative practitioners.  He discovered that there were significant neurological changes that differed from normal human brain functions.  The frontal lobes, known to be the seat of moral judgment and spirituality, had increased activity;  the limbic activity decreased;  and the combination generated a peaceful and serene state of consciousness.

Since that early work, there has been considerable research on the subject, much of which has been on non-theistic Tibetan Buddhist monks, yet comparatively little on theistic Christian practitioners.  As valuable as that research has been, it misses the opportunity available from the findings of research on the power of faith, which over 90% of the U.S. population has.  Though most researchers are Christian, they have difficulties getting enough practitioners, since the focus has been mostly on a small number of Tibetan monks; whereas, there is a much broader base of theistic interfaith practitioners with over 100,000 Christian contemplatives alone.  Research incurs a high cost of transporting equipment and researchers to the practitioners, rather than capitalizing on these local practitioners.  There seems to be a greater emphasis on theoretical neuroscience, as opposed to clinical applications.  The research is fragmented worldwide, rather than having a physical focal point, as could be the case in the Houston Texas Medical Center (TMC), which is the largest in the world, exceeding the next largest by four times.

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