Lisa Miller is a Columbia University psychology professor and the founder of the school’s Spirituality and Mind-Body Institute.

Courtesy Lisa Miller

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Lisa Miller, a Columbia University psychology professor and founder of the school’s Spirituality and Mind-Body Institute, has uncovered scientific evidence that spirituality is correlated with success, and her work is turning heads at the highest levels of many major U.S. institutions.

Miller’s extensive studies using brain imaging, detailed in her new book, The Awakened Brain: The New Science of Spirituality and Our Quest for an Inspired Life, confirm what may seem intuitively true: People who feel spiritual, meaning connected to something greater such as nature, the universe, or a god through organized religion, are more likely to be happier, healthier, and higher functioning in both their personal and professional lives. 

Leaders at the Pentagon, global financial institutions, technology firms, and other institutions who recognize the limitations of traditional management practices in a changed workforce culture have been inviting Miller to advise on how to nurture spirituality within their ranks to foster greater strength and resiliency, and ultimately competitiveness.

PENTA: What is the connection between spirituality and success?

Lisa Miller: Through fMRI brain scans, it’s clear that the same part of the brain that activates when we feel spiritual is what allows us to bond and see dignity and value in other people. When we know ourselves at the spiritual core, we know each other and can see each other as fuller beings. We then trust each other and work better as a team. 

When you cross into spiritual awareness you can see that while we are magnificently diverse, we are one. So addressing spirituality also addresses ethical problems—I’m talking about three corrosives: racism/extremism, sexism, and suicide. The U.S. Army and some corporations have the guts to take these issues on; they recognize that the spiritual decision we make is going to be …….


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