With this view of what the spiritual body is (the higher brain functions), it may be a little surprising what some of the necessities are for keeping the spiritual body healthy. These involve keeping the pre-frontal cortex faculties in good condition.
- Hatha Yoga or Tai Chi or gymnastics or similar gentle physical exercise which will keep the sensory cortex and proprioceptive sense active. Physical exercise has been shown to keep the neurons in the sensory area of the prefrontal cortex active and this brain area is enlarged compared to people who don’t. If you start losing neurons in your prefrontal cortex how can you possibly use your higher brain faculties? This is why almost all serious Yoga and Meditation schools include physical exercise and stretching as a core element of their teaching.
- Service, volunteer or charity work. There are many opportunities in modern society to get involved in helping others. This helps develop empathy for others.
- Meditation – you don’t need to spend all day meditating, but if you don’t invest any time at all in meditation, how are you going to quieten the DMN and allow the salience network to switch over to the executive network? A half hours practice once a week isn’t going to work either. Daily practice is necessary. The time each person can dedicate will vary, but periods of less than 30 minutes is unlikely to be sufficient.
- Retreats – many people like to get away for a week or two once or twice a year. Either to an ashram or spiritual retreat centre, or just get away to a quiet place for reflection and generally doing “nothing” other than “being”.
- Study – spiritual study, thinking, reflection on the highest questions; life, the universe, why we are here. Not debating or arguing, but reflecting on difficult questions and re-framing situations so as to get a fresh perspective and understanding from a different point of view. Trying to solve complicated problems or complex situations is also an excellent way of exercising the higher brain functions.
For spiritual reading, some suggested spiritual texts are given below. These are short and conducive to a short read followed by a period of reflection.
- Bhagavad Gita
- Srimad Bhagavatam
- Gayatri Mantra
- Shakespeare’s Sonnets or an alternative interpretation
- The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam