Psychologists Have Known What Religion Has Been Known For Many Years

Although I am growing up Catholic, for most of my adult life, I didn’t care about religion. Like many scientists, I believe it is built on opinion, conjecture, or even hope, and therefore has nothing to do with my work. That work runs a psychology lab that focuses on finding ways to improve the human condition, using the tools of science to develop techniques that help people meet the challenges given to them in life. But in the 20 years since I started this job, I’ve realized that most of what psychologists and neuroscientists have found is about how people’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors change-how they support when they are grieving, how they can be helped to be more moral, how they are allowed to find connection and happiness – echoing the ideas and methods that religions have used for thousands of years.

Science and religion are always in conflict. But if we remove theology-the views on the nature of God, the creation of the universe, etc.-from the day-to-day practice of religious belief, the hatred of the debate disappears. What we are left with is a series of rituals, customs, and sentimental consequences of various experiments. For thousands of years, these experiments, conducted in chaotic life as opposed to sterile labs, led to the design of what we call spiritual technologies-tools and processes that cause silence, movement, convincing, or otherwise misunderstanding the mind And the study of these technologies has revealed that certain aspects of religious practices, even when taken from a spiritual context, are able to influence the mind of the man in the measurable way that psychologists are always looking for.

My lab has found, for example, that training people in Buddhist meditation for a short period of time makes them more willing. After just eight weeks of study with a stigma of Buddhism, 50 percent of the assigned subjects meditated daily. spontaneously helping a stranger in pain. Only 16 percent of those who did not meditate did so. (Actually, the stranger is an artist we hired to use crutches and wear a removable foot cast while trying to find a seat in the crowd.) foreigners, however; it is also used by enemies. Another study showed that after three weeks of meditation, most people avoided taking revenge on someone who insulted them, unlike most who did not meditate. Once my tem observed the profound effects, we began to search for other connections between our past research and existing religious rituals.

For example, gratitude is something we have studied very closely, and an essential element of many religious practices. Christians always say grace before eating; The Jews thanked God with Modeh Ani pray every day on waking. When we study the act of gratitude, even in a secular context, we find that it is made more virtuous by people. In a study where people make more money by lying about the consequences of a flip coin, the majority (53 percent) cheat. But the number dramatically fell for the people we first asked to count their blessings. Of these, only 27 percent chose to lie. We also know that when there is gratitude to a person, to fate, or to God, people become more helpful, you are more generous, and even you are more patient.

Even subtle gestures – such as moving together in time – can affect the mind. We see synchrony in almost every religion around the world: Buddhists and Hindus are always together in prayer; Christians and Muslims always kneel and stand together during worship; The Jews are always circling, or shuckle, if simultaneous prayer. These actions are believed to have a deep purpose: to make a connection. To find out how it works, we asked pairs of unknown people to sit at a table away from each other, put on headphones, and then tap a sensor on the table in front of them each. they can hear a tone. For some of these pairs, the order of the tones is the same, meaning they simultaneously clap their hands. For others, this is unequal, meaning that the hand movements are not simultaneous. Afterwards, we created a situation where one member of each pair remained doing a long and difficult task. It’s not just those who move their hands simultaneously who report feeling more connection and compassion for their partner who is now working, 50 per cent of them have decided to lend the spouse – a huge increase to the 18 per cent who decided to help without moving.

The combined effects of simple elements like these – the ones that change how we feel, what we believe, and who we can trust – have accumulated over time. And if they are involved in religious practices, research has shown that they may have protective traits. often participation in religious activities reduces anxiety and sadness, increases physical health, and further reduces the risk of early death. These benefits do not come simply from general social contact. There is something specific to spiritual works on their own.

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