Meditation Makes You Smarter

by Peter Panagore

There is no perfection in meditation there is only practice. Meditation has practical and measurable benefits. 21st-century science has caught up with this five thousand year old practice that first spread to our western world in the 20th-century. The measurables include a thickened frontal lobe and cognitive improvements in memory function among the elderly after short-term practice.*

Meditation makes you smarter. For thousands of years the psychological and spiritual benefits of meditation have been experienced and documented in the east. These psychological benefits include reduced stress, anxiety, depression, irritability and moodiness, and increased creativity, intelligence, learning ability, moral reasoning, memory, feelings of vitality and rejuvenation, emotional control, self-esteem and alertness, and improved relationships and concentration. Spiritual meditation opens your temple inner door, again, and again and again. Your temple leads to the inner courtyard of God.

Your heart is a temple of God and meditation opens your temple door. Have you ever wanted what the Near-Death Experiences have? The knowing? Knowing comes with seeing the inner courtyard, but meditation is the nearest door to the door of death inside your temple. This inner door, this inner temple already exists in every one, inside of you and me, and meditation is a key that opens that door.

Meditation Makes You Smarter

There is no perfection in meditation, there is only practice. The idea of perfection and the difficulty of controlling the mind stops too many people from practice. It is not about success or perfection. It is about practice, showing up, day after day for fifteen minutes. You have fifteen minutes, don’t you? Meditation has been handed down, taught and practiced, for the last 175 generations, essentially unchanged with limited large school variations. The human brains of homosapiens haven’t changed a whole lot in 5,000 years. Humans, people like you and me, tend to only do what works, because we are practical in that way. If it works we keep it; if it doesn’t, we throw it out. Meditation is handed down because it actively, and now measurably, helps with living a better life.

My Catholic School religion teacher, in the spring of my senior year, taught one class on the day after he returned from learning meditation in a nearby Trappist monastery. They’d been tuning up their practice by studying with Shunryū Suzuki also called Suzuki Roshi. He was a zen monk who popularized meditation in the west.

Back when I began my daily practice, in 1977, the bully boys began calling me “peace Panagore” because in American culture, back then, meditation was considered woo woo, crazy man, and nutso! None of that mattered to me, because the benefits of my daily practice of meditation accrued quickly, steadily and remained steadfastly. What matters most in meditation is showing up daily. It does not matter if your meditation works today or does not work today. What matters is the practice and with practice comes mastery. This is true of guitar playing and mathematics. Those 10,000 hours of practice that lead to mastery, as named and popularized by Malcom Gladwell, work for mediation, too.

I don’t expect perfection in my practice. Some days, some weeks, my mind is wild, and if I have three breaths of single mindedness, of inner stillness, of silence, of being the quietude, and sitting in the peace, then all of my meditations are successful, because of that one day. And that one moment of timeless stillness, peace and silence, arrives often enough, with practice. The brain grows stronger and the frontal lobe thickens making meditation easier. It is physiological. Why does the frontal lobe thicken? It thickens because that is the location of your language, it is therefore the location of your chant, of your prayer, of your practice. Your third eye. Your pineal gland. Your sixth and purple chakra. “The eye wherein I see God, God sees me,” wrote Meister Ekhart. The single eye, said Jesus.

Peter Panagore in zazen in 1986.
Peter Panagore in zazen in 1986.

The frontal lobe is where your single-mindedness begins. All you must do to begin is begin, and begin tomorrow again, and then daily. One breath at a time, holding your word, your sentence, your mantra, you chant on top of your breath, and breath. Focus your mind and breathe to your words. When your mind wanders, do not fight, just return to your breath and chant. I chant the ancient Jesus prayer. As prayer, meditation opens wider your inner channel, making you a more open and empty vessel, and lets the Light in and through. Meditation is ungrasping all things by holding one thing. It strips oneself of oneself, and let’s God in.

Meditation works as an access door for atheists and for believers, but added for believers is the opening of inner temple door. Why does it open the door for believers? Belief in God gives you the key. Why? I don’t know. It just does, and sometimes, meditation spontaneously opens the temple door to a much surprised atheist, too. That inner peace is real and God loves us all.

Peter Baldwin Panagore earned his BA in English from the University of Massachusetts and a M. Div from Yale University. He was ordained in the United Church of Christ and served churches in suburban Connecticut and Maine. He is the writer, on-air talent, and host of a daily two-minute broadcast on Tenga in Maine, reaching an audience of 350,000 a week. He is the fifth minister of First Radio Parish Church of America (founded in 1926). Visit him at




A Conversation with The Linns

Enjoy the conversation below with Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis Linn & Matthew Linn about near-death experiences and their book, The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences.

What is a near-death experience?

A near-death experience is an experience in which people who appear to be dead or in danger of death leave their body, find themselves fully conscious in another realm, and then return to this life. The stages of an NDE may include:  separation of consciousness from the physical body; heightened senses; intense feelings of peace and love; passing into or through a tunnel; encountering a brilliant and loving light; encountering other beings, such as mystical beings or deceased relatives and friends; an altered sense of space and time; a review of every moment of one’s life in which there is no judgment and only love; visiting unworldly realms; an experience of universal knowledge; encountering a boundary or barrier; returning to one’s body, often with a new sense of the purpose of one’s life.

How common are near-death experiences?

Near-death experiences are common, well-documented, and similar across cultures throughout the world.  Current estimates are that between four and fifteen percent of the world’s population have had an NDE.  Therefore, almost everyone has either had one or knows someone else who has had one.

Why do you think people are so interested in near-death experiences?

The general public has been interested in near-death experiences since the publication of Raymond Moody’s book Life After Life in 1975. In the years following, these experiences have been studied extensively and many more books have appeared on the topic. Interest in them has only grown, in part because modern resuscitation techniques have allowed more people to return to life and have also given NDEs increased credibility in the medical community.

At one level, some of the fascination with NDEs may be because they often result in great leaps in personal growth. At another, deeper level, we believe NDEs remind us of where we came from. Many people who have had NDEs report recognizing the realm in which they find themselves, and describe it as their “real home,” the home they knew before their life on earth and the home to which they will return.

What are the typical effects of a near-death experience?

NDEs often result in great leaps in personal growth. For example, even sociopaths may return from an NDE with a conscience and a capacity for genuine love. The after effects of NDEs have been carefully researched and typically include loss of the fear of death, healing of deep hurts, increase in self-esteem and compassion for others, a sense of union with all things, an increased sense of social justice and concern for the environment, and a clearer sense of how to fulfill one’s purpose in life.  People who have had NDEs typically change their vocation by moving away from a focus on material success and moving toward service to others and care for all life.

How has writing this book affected you personally?

Writing this book has confirmed our memory of coming from the place described by people who have had near-death experiences, and given us a more abiding perspective on the gift of our life here.

We always knew there was life after death, but writing this has also helped us look forward even more to returning to the place from which we came, and meeting loved ones who have already gone on.  Thus, any fear of death we had has diminished.

We are also more aware that everything counts and nothing is lost.  Often when we are making a decision about how to handle a situation, we ask ourselves, “Am I doing the most loving thing, and how will I feel about this decision look during my life review?”

Most of all, writing this book has helped us own our true size, as we grow in the awareness that comes to many NDErs that we ourselves are the Light and we are love. 

Who is this book for?    

All three of us are introverts, and parties or other social gatherings can be an ordeal for us.  Our usual strategy is to find at least one person we know well, and stay near that person.  Since we began writing this book, we have found ourselves walking into a room full of people and discovering that we could have a meaningful conversation with anyone there.  As soon as someone asks us what we are doing currently, and we tell them we are reading and writing about near-death experiences, their eyes widen, their attention seems to focus, and they start asking questions.  Almost always, they know someone who has had an NDE, and surprisingly often they have had one themselves.  Even the skeptics seem fascinated.  So, we believe this book is for anyone.

This book is also for people in caring professions such as nursing, medicine, hospice, counseling and psychotherapy, ministry, spiritual companioning, education, etc.

The NDE transcends culture and religion, while encompassing the fundamental teachings of all religions, so much so that Dr. Ring has called it “the universal donor.”  Therefore, we have written The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences in a way that we hope will have universal appeal.   We believe the NDE, with its consistent message of love and peace, is an important source of healing for our world at this time.  We want this book to be part of that healing.

Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis and Matthew Linn work together as a team, integrating physical, emotional, and spiritual wholeness. They have taught courses on processes for healing around the world. They are the authors of 23 books, including 2 books for children and those who care for them. These books have sold over a million copies in English and have been translated into more than 20 languages. Dennis and Sheila live in Colorado with their son, John. Matt lives in a Jesuit community in Minnesota. Visit them at


Our May Titles Are Here!

Our May titles are here! Happy reading!

The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences

Sheila Fabricant Linn, Dennis Linn & Matthew Linn

“Everything in this book, no matter the subject, is available, usable. I love the “now-ness” of this, the alive-ness. You don’t have to die to experience the truth about yourself, where you’re from or where you’re going once you leave this life behind. Surprise. . .this is not a book about near-death, not really, it is a book about YOU, the real YOU.” —P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D., researcher of near-death states, author of such books as Near-Death Experiences: The Rest of the Story, Future Memory, Dying to Know You: Proof of God in the Near-Death Experience, and Children of the Fifth World

The Gifts of Near Death Experiences: You Don’t Have to Die to Experience Your True Home brings a fresh and exciting perspective to understanding near-death experiences. Everyone can benefit from learning the wisdom so clearly and eloquently expressed in this book. With each turn of the page you will find a treasure trove of insights, inspiration, and practical pointers that will really work in your life. This outstanding book is expertly written, remarkably easy to read, and enthusiastically recommended.” —Jeffrey Long, M.D., author of the New York Times bestselling Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences

The Gifts of Near-Death Experiences will help you develop your own spiritual practice of meditation that can crack open your inner-door so that you too may glimpse beyond into God’s Love and Light and live a life of love.” —Peter Baldwin Panagore, author of Heaven is Beautiful.

9781571747433Near-death experiences (NDEs) are common, well-documented, and similar across cultures throughout the world. Current estimates are that between 4 and 15 percent of the world’s population have had an NDE. Some of the fascination with NDEs comes from the fact that they often result in great leaps in personal growth. These leaps are characterized by the loss of the fear of death, the healing of deep hurts, an increase in self-esteem and compassion for others, a sense of union with all things, and a clearer sense of how to fulfill one’s purpose in life.

This is a book that teaches readers how to reap the benefits of NDEs without having to experience trauma. In the course of their many workshops around the world, the authors have discovered that when one immerses oneself in accounts of NDEs, one can experience love, hope, healing, and a sense of purpose.

This is the only book that systematically encourages the reader to create a spiritual and psychological healing practice based on NDEs. Each chapter includes an account of a fascinating NDE, followed by a series of questions, meditations, exercises, and video links. The reader is encouraged to contemplate these stories and their own lives. It is truly a profound guide to both living and dying.

(Hampton Roads Publishing)

Totem Animals, Plain and Simple

Celia M. Gunn

“Animals are not only beholders of great beauty, but they are also beholders of ancient wisdom.” —Molly Friedenfeld

9781571747488The idea of spirit guides speaking through animals and birds dates back to ancient times. Today, if we’re open to watching and listening to our totem animals, we can develop beneficial relationships withthem. We can also recognize that when a totem animal appears to us in a special way, it’s offering insight into what’s happening in our lives.

This helpful book will give you a greater understanding of more than 60 totem animals and their unique meanings in an A to Z encyclopedic listing, lead you through the steps for accessing a chosen spirit, and help you explore the role of animal spirits in cultures around the world.

Additional Titles Publishing in May

The Mastery of Self (Hierophant Publishing, May 23, 2016)


Lost Powers (Atlantis Rising)



Our April Titles Are Coming!

April is always a great time of year. Spring (finally!) makes it’s appearance on the east coast, warmer weather sets in and we can finally be outside. And what goes great with being outside? Reading a book! With seven titles coming out in April, there should be something for everyone. With titles ranging from surviving three near-death experiences, to raising a husband, learning how to grow older better and finding out the truth behind your sun sign, you’ll have plenty to read until our May titles come out!

9781573246361How to Survive Life (and Death): A Guide for Happiness in This World and Beyond)

Robert Kopecky

An Emmy-nominated art director for television, Robert Kopecky never dreamed he’d end up writing a book about how to survive life and death. But what else could he do? Over the years, Kopecky had not one but three near-death experiences. He discovered exactly what lives on the other side of our fears about dying–and living. And he had some stories he knew we’d want to hear. Even some very funny ones.

Read this book and you’ll find yourself uncoiling, relaxing your shoulders, taking deeper breaths. You may even feel like you’re floating as you begin to shed the weight of a lifetime of social and existential anxiety. And you’ll find the calm determination to live your life accordingly.

(Conari Press)

9781573246354How to Raise a Husband: A Whole Bunch of Ways to Build a Strong and Happy Marriage

Tonilyn Hornung

Completely nag-free, How to Raise a Husband offers a unique approach by incorporating the honesty of six experts (real wives) with one unifying voice (the author’s) to assist and entertain, all the while providing deep and valuable insight into the less-talked-about issues of marriage. From honest communication to knowing the difference between when to compromise and if you are compromising yourself, and how to know when it’s appropriate to wear your Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader uniform, How to Raise a Husband gives practical advice and encouragement on marriage that will unite women across the globe.

(Conari Press)

9781571747037Getting Older Better: The Best Advice Ever on Money, Health, Creativity, Sex, Work, Retirement and More

Pamela D. Blair, PhD

Pamela Blair, a psychotherapist in her 60s, has a few things to say about aging. Open this book to any page and find one of over 100 brief, kickstarting essays and journaling questions for moving into your third act with a sense of adventure and possibility. Blair offers dozens of practical and motivational ideas for handling everything from health and libido to the death of a spouse, money, legacy, and more.Let Pamela Blair will guide you through the thoughts and feelings about aging that may be dragging you down. Let her point the way to a different, optimistic and clear eyed, way of getting older—better.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)

Bad Birthday.inddBad Birthdays: The Truth Behind Your Crappy Sun Sign

Sarah Christensen Fu

Revealing the truth (whether you like it or not) about your star sign, Bad Birthdays uncovers the true quirks, oddities, and unpleasantries that characterize your unlucky sign of the zodiac and rule your destiny. When it comes to love, do you think that watery Pisces are naturally romantic lovers? Think again—if you’re unfortunate enough to have a relationship with a Plagued Pisces or a Contemptible Cancer, you’re in trouble. Reference the relationship sections to rate your compatibility with other star signs, or at least highlight where the cracks are going to show.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)

The State Is Out of Date: We Can Do It Better 9781938875069

Gregory Sams

Does anyone really think that politics is working–aside from those in power and behind it? What if living together in peace and harmony is a more natural condition than that we experience in today’s conflict-driven culture? We are community animals with built-in empathy, good at organizing things and helping each other out. The most essential and reliable features of our culture arose without top-down planning by a state that has one basic objective–to stay in power. We have enjoyed enduring civilizations in the past governed wholly from the bottom-up, without need of a shepherd and sheepdogs. We can do it again – and are more connected than ever before.

(Disinformation Books)

9781573246316The Language of Healing: Daily Comfort for Women Living with Breast Cancer 

Pat Benson and Linda Dackman

This wise little book of 150 meditations is like a breast cancer support group. It is exactly what a woman recuperating in her hospital bed or during any of the other milestones of treatment and recovery might need—the advice and wisdom of other women who have preceded her in confronting breast cancer.

Gathered here are moving reflections, anecdotes, and practical information for women concerned with or diagnosed with this disease. Built upon the experiences of women of all ages–women who have undergone all types of breast surgery and treatments from lumpectomy and mastectomy to radiation and chemotherapy; women who are single, married, divorced, widowed, straight, gay–the reflections touch upon topics as universal as fear and grief and as intimate as sex.

(Conari Press)

9781571747112Children of a Living Universe: Discovering Our Legacy Will Change Our Future 

Paul Von Ward

Children of a Living Universe is a call to action unlike any other you may have encountered. According to cultural historian and cosmologist Paul Von Ward, the time has come for human beings to reassess just about everything we believe about our ancestry and global past. Drawing upon forgotten prehistory, clues from the world’s esoteric traditions, and new research in consciousness, Von Ward asserts we are more powerful beings than either science or religion has led us to believe. He exhorts us to embrace a bold, new model of human existence, one that explains our celestial origins, multidimensional capacities, and destiny as conscious co-creators of a self-learning and self-correcting universe.

(Hampton Roads Publishing Company)