Is DNRS New Age?

While I have heard many of the same basic questions about DNRS over the past few years (which I have answered in the FAQs page), there is one that I am starting to hear more. While most questions are simply neutral, expected ones, like what the program entails and who it's for, this question I'm hearing lately seems to be more in the realm of fear and accusation:

"Is DNRS New Age?"

Let's first talk about why people ask this question. I would say that there are two main situations in which this question arises:

one  Someone considering doing DNRS is worried about doing something wrong: taking part in something that is not godly, specifically something that is New Age. 

two  Someone knows nothing about the program, is mystified by bits they have heard from me or someone else, and asks dismissively and even accusingly, "Isn't that New Age?"

First, let's answer the question, and then we'll go into the mindset behind why the question is asked and why that's even something to address in a post.

No, DNRS is not New Age. Here's why. 

In case you are new to it, let me explain that the Dynamic Neural Retraining System is one clearly outlined, easily adoptable program for how to retrain your brain out of a state of illness to a state of health, from an illness and/or trauma-induced state of a malfunctioning limbic system (that's your brain) to a limbic system of accurate, healthy function. 

There are other programs for retraining your brain. DNRS is just the one I used. And more than that, you don't need a program in order to change/retrain/rewire your brain--whatever word you like. It's just that having a clear, accessible game plan for how to rewire your brain from a limbic system impairment is super helpful and faster than drawing up a plan yourself when you just want to heal already. 

Any variation of the phrase "changing your brain" seems to mystify people purely out of unfamiliarity with this very basic concept that should be taught from the early years of schooling, and it turns them off, makes them doubt, and even scares them. Because we humans find anything new to us to be scary (most often inaccurately so) simply because it is unfamiliar. But more on that in a bit.

But first, here's why you don't need a program (or anyone) to teach you how to rewire your brain:

All brain retraining programs are based on the proven scientific principle of neuroplasticity, our brain's ability to change--and the fact that it does change, constantly, in both positive and negative ways. Did you learn that the mushy yellow food you liked as a toddler was called "banana"? Your brain changed to do that. Did you learn to tie your shoes as a kid? Your brain changed to do that. Did you learn how to drive smoothly without jerking back and forth from the brake to the gas and back again? Your brain changed to do that. Did you learn a new language in college? Your brain changed to do that. Did you finally break a bad habit, like biting your nails? Your brain changed to do that. Did you realize you respond with anger very quickly in various situations and train yourself to stay more calm before reacting immediately with anger? Your brain changed to do that. Do you now like something you used to dislike, or dislike something you used to like? Your brain changed to do that. Did you consciously tell your toddler brain, "Okay, brain! Time to learn that bananas taste good!" Of course not. It's natural. It's how our brains work because a brain that changes is purely and simply how God made our brains.

As you can see by now, you don't have to follow a special program to change your brain. It's already changing anyway. But we can also consciously help our brains change in positive ways. Does that sound weird to you? How about this: You have legs. They're there, undeniably. You can learn to use them in more-than-the-bare-basics positive, healthy ways, like dancing and running and biking, or you can just let them exist, in use just as you go about your day. You can train them to the advantage of a healthier, happier life or just use them to survive. Is it wrong to learn to run and run well? I'm pretty sure no one would say yes to that. So is it wrong to learn to think well? Your brain is just as much part of your body as your legs.

Now, one common response to DNRS not being New Age is likely going to be, "Well, it's not in the Bible!" First of all, do you know how much we assume as part of basic, everyday life that isn't in the Bible? How about cars, bikes, rocking chairs, glasses, hairdryers, vacuums, electricity, computers, literally any machine, on and on.... But unlike all of those that we accept without question, neuroplasticity is in the Bible. A lot. Here's just a couple of examples--verses that we long-time Christians have learned to skim over instead of realize what is clearly being said:

"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8).

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God" (Romans 12:2).

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).

Why would any of these verses not be taken at face value? Renew your mind--your brain. Think on good things. Replace anxiousness with gratitude. These are basic neuroplasticity principles. Because God made neuroplasticity when He made literally everything else. And notice: these verses don't only make clear that our brains change and can intentionally be changed--we are commanded to do the changing: think on this, be transformed, do not think about that but instead think about this. And when you rewire from that pathway to this one, God will give you peace. 

That sounds an awful lot like responsible stewardship of being aware of your brain pathways and changing them as needed.

So we've covered that DNRS is based on the basic, neutral, wonderful scientific fact of neuroplasticity that God lovingly made us with and that it's actually a biblical concept to value and attend to changing your brain as needed. Now, if explaining what DNRS is is not sufficient, let me explain what DNRS is not. 

The Pew Research Center describes the eclectic, seemingly subjective umbrella-like term of New Age as this: "Including belief in reincarnation, astrology, psychics, and the presence of spiritual energy in physical objects like mountains or trees." Basically, it appears to be anything mystical or "spiritual" without God as God of all.

Literally nothing about DNRS has anything at all to do with any of that. Neuroplasticity is not an esoteric idea, an abstract theory, or a mystical modality. See it in action here (more links below). Additionally, it is not something that leaves out God, because it only exists because of God. And the fact that most people have never heard the term "neuroplasticity" does not make it any less real, true, or good. 

It is true that DNRS was not designed as a God-focused, Christian-based program. It's not affiliated with any kind of religion (that doesn't make it all-roads-lead-to-God either). And nothing about it can be misconstrued as any kind of religion, worship, or ritual. DNRS is also not a form of worshiping yourself or your brain. Can people make running marathons into an idol? Sure they can. Anything can become an idol. But that fact does not inherently make running marathons--or retraining your brain--wrong. And of course, it can be assumed that people with a wide range of beliefs do DNRS, so there are surely people who are New Age subscribers who do it; there are doubtless also New Agers who run marathons, but no one tries to claim the two are connected.

As said before, while DNRS is not a Christian (or any kind of religious) program, neuroplasticity is only possible because of God. He is at the heart of DNRS without it being expressly designed through a Christian lens, and you can absolutely incorporate prayer and worship into it (as you could while training for and running a marathon), and many do.

Why is it a problem that anyone would assume DNRS to be New Age?

So why would it bother me at all that anyone would think DNRS to be New Age? Because the fact that it is in the forefront of people's minds to ask about is indicative of many things in today's society, particularly among Christians. And what is revealed by the question is as important to address as answering the question as I have above.

We have come to fear everything that is new, unfamiliar, or confusing to us--even when we know absolutely nothing about it--to the point of condemnation as evil or New Age.

Why is that an issue? Think about how many things would be automatically disqualified from use or consideration in our lives if the cut-off point was new, confusing, or unfamiliar. Was tying your shoes once new, confusing, or unfamiliar to you? Was reading once new, confusing, or unfamiliar to you? Was Jesus Himself once new, confusing, or unfamiliar to you? Literally everything you know to be second nature was once new, confusing, or unfamiliar to you at one time. And you learned about it instead of rejecting it, deeming it New Age, condemning it, and running from it.

So why is it suddenly wrong to consider anything that is new, confusing, or unfamiliar once we become adults? Have we officially arrived once we turn 21 and there is nothing new to learn? Have we exhausted the annals of all science, history, and knowledge once we have that degree in hand? Let me tell you this: I have a four-year degree from a very strict university with very high standards. And I have learned more about life, the world, science, health, and everything in the years since I graduated than I did in those four years.  

In addition, we have let satan take our God-made, God-given land and now eschew any square foot of it as evil by association.

Christians, I need you to hear me when I say this (and if you find the idea of retraining your brain unpleasant you really may run from this): good and evil are constantly at war. As long as satan still lives, evil is meddling in everything it can, in ways that are deeper, more complex, more deceitfully attractive, and more nauseatingly disgusting than we can easily imagine. And in this war of good and evil, one of the many sieges clearly underway is against our entire mindset around God and what He made. This has been under attack for a long, long time. The enemy is gross, but he's not stupid. It is apparent to anyone paying attention that the enemy has appropriated things or even parts of things that God made very good (let's say, the stars for instance), made up godless versions, and gotten the world to accept and even love them, while capitalizing on Christians' rabid fear of dipping a toe into the stolen land. And thanks to that fear, we condemn every God-made gift that the enemy has taken and twisted and anything not accepted by the majority: namely, anything that is new to us, unfamiliar, or confusing. And if we didn't hear it from the pastor, it must be evil.

We are forfeiting multiple basic good gifts of God, like how He made our brains, simply because the enemy has convinced us that anything we have any remote trouble grasping or believing must be evil, and likely that popular term of "New Age." And the devil is happy about that, we can be sure. Brainwashing complete. Gifts seized. Gifts condemned.

God gifts His children with the Holy Spirit. (By the way, how is the Holy Spirit not labeled as "New Age"? It includes that taboo word "spirit." Oh, because it's in the Bible? Okay. But tell me this: which of the three in the Trinity isn't really talked about and is all but ignored in modern-day Christianity? The Holy Spirit. Bring it up and people get uncomfortable. Why would that be? Maybe because "spirit" and "spiritual" are just two more words the enemy has appropriated, attached to other associations, and scared Christians away from by mere connotation?) But back to the Holy Spirit--God gifts His children with that. That is how we have any sense of what is good and evil: discernment. It is the job of a good steward to have discernment. So here's a good rule of thumb I think we could use with things that we know nothing about and also things we do learn about but are still unsure on:

Can you find God in it?

Yes, God is at the heart of DNRS because 1) DNRS does not entail worship of any false god or religion and 2) DNRS is a neuroplasticity practice; God made neuroplasticity, and therefore He is at the heart of it, whether someone doing the program ever realizes that or not. Can you do DNRS and ignore God completely? Sure. Can you get a degree and ignore God completely? Sure. Does that make getting a degree inherently evil?

In conclusion, when someone asks if DNRS is New Age, here is what they are really saying:

Christian wanting to do DNRS: "[I'm afraid to take part in something evil, and I worry about this because we Christians have forfeited all kinds of wonderful God-given gifts and they've now become adulterated in our minds by association with the world.] Is it New Age?" 

Random Christian who's heard only pieces about DNRS: "[I only believe what I can physically see and I've never heard anything about neuroplasticity before. I don't understand DNRS, so it makes me uncomfortable. If it's true that it's legitimate and good, then I may have to face the fact that God has given us basic gifts that I have somehow never heard about and also face why that could be.] Isn't that New Age?"

Here is the bottom line: If you have "heard things" about DNRS--or anything--that have led you dismiss it as New Age (or anything evil) based on rumor alone, learn about the thing in question before dismissing it. That is not wrong and hurts no one--it's actually part of being a healthy, discerning good steward.

When your knee-jerk response to anything new, confusing, or unfamiliar to you is that it must be evil or New Age, pause and ask yourself why you think that. Is that judgment based on fact? On fear? On discernment? On proof? 

Remember that fear is never a place to make a decision from. Confusion isn't a place to make a decision from. Knowledge is the place to make a decision from. And the only way you can gain knowledge from which to make a sound decision is to learn about the subject in question instead of dismissing it as New Age and running the other way.

God has given us great gifts that equip us to thrive and serve Him well, that direct us to Him if we'll just pay attention, and that glorify Him mightily. Let's not throw them in the garbage for any reason, even if we have to take back the land we let the enemy steal and pry them from his hands.

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More to see:

The Science Behind DNRS | all my DNRS posts | the DNRS website

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and nothing I say is to be taken as medical advice. I speak only of my personal experience.


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