Grant TypePost PhD Research Grant
Institutional AffiliationStanford U.
Grant numberGr. 9658
Approve DateApril 18, 2018
Project TitleBrahinsky, Dr. Joshua D., Stanford U., Stanford, CA - To aid research on 'Religion Under the Skin: How Does Christian Prayer Become Embodied?'
JOSHUA D. BRAHINSKY, Stanford University, Stanford, California, received a grant in April 2018 to aid research on ‘Religion Under the Skin: How Does Christian Prayer Become Embodied?’ This study asked how Christian prayer shapes the mind, brain and body. Existing ethnographic research suggested that charismatic evangelical Christians learn to use their minds to foster intimate, embodied experiences of an invisible other in ways that seem near sensory and non-agentic. Yet how and why this happens remains understudied. We proposed to explore evangelical prayer practices in dialogue with neurophenomenological work. Our goal was to combine ethnography and neuroscience to investigate specific processes through which prayer practice may foster intimate, embodied experiences of an invisible other in ways that seem near sensory and non-agentic. In doing so, we hope to encourage a relatively untouched field of study, that directly marks the lives of the nearly 600 million charismatic evangelicals throughout the globe. A preliminary data analysis suggests that while informants did not report increased audible or tactile connection with God as a result of a one-month prayer intensive, they did report more intense emotion, presence, being slain in the spirit, and greater ease of dropping in while speaking in tongues. That is, we did observe more non agentic experiences. We learned that speaking in tongues can be understood along a continuum affected by training. People also reported moments of intense focus, high arousal, and somatic release that are not found in other contemplative traditions.