Science and Spiritual Practices

Transformative Experiences and Their Effects on Our Bodies, Brains, and Health

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Book Description

A biologist draws on science and psychology to validate the benefits of 7 common religious practices—from meditation and gratitude to rituals and pilgrimage.

“I have personally adopted many of [these] practices . . . and experienced more love, joy, empathy, gratitude, and equanimity as a result.” ―Deepak Chopra

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier. In this pioneering book, Rupert Sheldrake shows how science helps validate 7 practices on which many religions are built, and which are part of our common human heritage:
• Meditation
• Gratitude
• Connecting with nature
• Relating to plants
• Rituals
• Singing and chanting
• Pilgrimage and holy places

Sheldrake summarizes the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices, and suggests ways that readers can explore these fields for themselves. For those who are religious, Science and Spiritual Practices will illuminate the evolutionary origins of their own traditions and give a new appreciation of their power. For the nonreligious, this book will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all.

About the Author

Praise For This Book

"I have personally adopted many of the practices Rupert describes in his book and experienced more love, joy, empathy, gratitude, and equanimity as a result. We are all indebted to Rupert, who has tirelessly brought us deep insights from both science and spirituality." ―Deepak Chopra

“Rupert Sheldrake once again acts as a bridge builder between science and spirituality . . . Psychological and scientific studies are cited to underpin his findings, and an engaging account of his own life path helps to create a very accessible and authentic tone for the reader . . . It’s a testimony to his courage and integrity that he continues to harness the horses of both science and spirituality to pull the chariot, and he drives his vehicle well.” ―Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America

"For readers wishing to follow his path, Sheldrake offers advice on seven ways in which we can begin to appreciate the transcendent world of the Spirit . . . We learn how to connect with the more-than-human world of nature; to respect plants and explore the benefits of small orchards; to value rituals and experience pilgrimages; to enjoy the power of music through chanting. All these practices can deepen the meaning of our lives and open our minds to a universe flooded with consciousness." ―Church Times

“A simultaneously grounded and inspiring approach to appreciating the benefits of both science and religion.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“With accessible suggestions, clear arguments, and an encouraging tone, Sheldrake makes a good case for reincorporating bygone spiritual habits.” ―Publishers Weekly

"Rupert Sheldrake is not only a consummate scientist, but is a person alive to the spirit. I am personally grateful for the writing and publication of Science and Spiritual Practices, and not only endorse it wholeheartedly, but look forward to the support and depth it will bring to my own life.” ―Marc Andrus, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of California

"Science and Spiritual Practices is a breakthrough. It is a promise and sign of hope in a dire time, an apocalyptic time, but a potentially revelatory time also . . . Is it true that the modern age of antagonism between science and religion, psyche and cosmos, can be healed? Is it true that this is happening right now? That spiritual experience is available to believers and unbelievers alike? Read this important book and find out for yourself." ––Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Progressing Spirit

"I love this book! For its clarity, its first-person stories and applications, its science and experientially based facts, its timeliness, its humor, its blunt questions and challenges put to the guardians of die-hard scientific materialism, its breadth of topics and depth of insights historical, philosophical, religious, and spiritual. Few living scientists have the courage and the chops to ask the questions Rupert does, research them, and deliver answers in language all can understand. Be prepared as you read this book for an exciting and free-ranging ride, a sort of scientific pilgrimage journeying into spiritual practices and how they have benefited and can benefit humanity." ―Matthew Fox, author of Original Blessing

"This is a refreshing and reflective work, a great contribution by a scholar whose intellectual life has been dedicated to showing connections among practice and polity, science and Spirit. His Science and Spiritual Practices reminds us clearly that everything is connected." ―Jeffrey Patnaude, author, teacher, priest

"Urgent, vital, gently devastating, and an exhilarating read. Buy it, read it, and give it to all your friends and all acolytes of scientism. Sheldrake will help us stay alive and be more alive. We all need his help." ―Charles Foster, Fellow of Green Templeton College, University of Oxford, and author of Being a Beast