Teilhard de Chardin was a Jesuit priest, philosopher, and paleontologist who pondered the meaning of life and our relationship with the Divine.
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What does it mean to be Spiritual Beings having a human experience, and how does this affect our daily lives?
Spiritual psychology is based on the idea that we are all Spiritual Beings going through a human experience.
We are already Spiritual Beings, not human beings attempting to be Spiritual.
Meaning, before we were born into this physical realm, we existed in spiritual form. We are, first and foremost, immortal Souls. We can reconnect with this understanding in the calm times of our busy lives.
Who said that we are spiritual beings having a human experience?
“We are not spiritual creatures having a human experience.” “We are spiritual creatures going through a human journey.”
Most of us have heard these remarks from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher. And there's something about this concept that resonates with most of us on a primal level.
Something deep down in our guts or hearts, possibly on an unconscious level, recognizes that we are made up of more than just the sum of our ideas, feelings, and current life situation. We have a sensation of being more than simply our small “me.” And, even if we can't fully access the knowing of it directly, the concept that we humans are vaster than our finite and individualized egos seems relieving to most of us.
How common are spiritual experiences?
According to polls, there's a 50-50 chance you've experienced at least one spiritual encounter an overwhelming sense that you've touched God or entered another realm of reality.
So, have you ever pondered if such experiences were all in your brain or if they genuinely happened? According to scientists, the answer might be both.
Jeff Schimmel is the man to talk to if you're looking for proof that religion is all in your head. The 49-year-old writer was raised in a Conservative Jewish household in Los Angeles. But he didn't believe in God until he was touched by something outside of himself.
Schimmel had a benign tumor removed from his left temporal lobe about a decade ago. The operation went off without a hitch. But, unbeknownst to him, he began to have mini-seizures soon after. In his thoughts, he could hear conversations. People around him would occasionally appear slightly surreal, as if they were animated.
Then there were the visions. He recalls looking up at the ceiling twice while lying in bed and seeing a swirl of blue, gold, and green hues that gradually settled into a shape. He was baffled as to what it was.
How do I get a spiritual experience?
What options do I have now?
- Consider meditating. Check to see whether a regular class is offered in your area, or download the Smiling Mind app for a guided meditation.
Is spiritual a religion?
Spirituality is a topic that is frequently discussed, but it is frequently misinterpreted. Many individuals confuse spirituality and religion, and as a result, they bring their religious ideas and prejudices into debates about spirituality. Although spiritualism is emphasized in many religions, you can be “spiritual” without being religious or a member of an organized religion.
What happens to the brain during spiritual experiences?
Spiritual practices have long been hallmarks of mutual aid groups like Alcoholics Anonymous. Spirituality can be a crucial component of addiction rehabilitation because it can be a key method for a person seeking recovery to connect to something outside of themselves. Researchers and trend watchers have found that Americans are becoming less religious while yet identifying as more spiritual. Spiritual participation can help people achieve a “sense of unity with something larger than themselves,” according to the study's authors. Scientists used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to examine exactly how spirituality activated or deactivated certain regions of the brain, changing how people perceive and interact with the world around them, in a recent brain study directed by Dr. Mark Potenza at Yale called Neural Correlates of Spiritual Experiences.
Spirituality, according to Dr. Christina Puchalski, Director of the George Washington Institute for Spirituality and Health, is “the aspect of humanity that refers to the way individuals seek and express meaning and purpose, as well as the way they experience their connectedness to the moment, self, others, nature, and the significant or sacred.” Importantly, the study's authors endorsed a wide range of personal definitions of spiritual experience, such as attending a religious service at a place of worship, connecting with nature, practicing mindfulness meditation, and praying in silence.
Spirituality and religious practices are important in many people's lives; 81 percent of adults in the United States identify as spiritual, religious, or both. Despite the fact that the majority of adults in the United States engage in some type of spiritual practice, little is known about what happens in specific areas of the brain during these spiritual experiences. Although studies have related various brain measures to characteristics of spirituality, none have attempted to investigate spiritual experiences directly, especially when employing a broader, modern understanding of spirituality that is not necessarily religious. This study examined neuronal structures and systems that are activated when we participate in spiritual practice using an unique type of brain imaging called functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). When individuals were asked to recall spiritual experiences, the fMRI was able to detect activity in the brain by detecting variations in blood flow to various regions of the brain.
The large range of spiritual experiences that individuals can find personally meaningful is a possible difficulty in this study. The study's authors attempted to address this by asking participants to describe a circumstance in which they felt “a deep connection with a higher power or a spiritual presence” using a tailored guided-imagery fMRI approach. Their stories were put into a script, which was then recorded and played back to the subject during the fMRI scan. The brain activation recorded during a participant's recall of a spiritual encounter was compared to measures conducted while they listened to narrations of neutral and stressful situations.
The fact that the participants were entirely in charge of their narratives was crucial to the researchers' ability to find patterns in brain activity across a wide range of spiritual experiences.
The Inferior Parietal Lobe, which is related with perceptual processing, is shown in blue.
Lower levels of activity in some areas of the brain were linked to spiritual experiences:
- The IPL, or inferior parietal lobe, is a region of the brain that deals with perceptual processing and the notion of self in time and place.
- The emotional and sensory processing centers of the brain, the thalamus and striatum
This research adds to a growing body of knowledge about spirituality and its relationship to brain processing. These findings suggest that spiritual encounters alter perception and can help to mitigate the negative consequences of stress on mental health. The areas of the brain responsible for stress were shown to be less active in this study, whereas the parts responsible for social interaction were more active. A sense of belonging to someone or something bigger than oneself, as well as community involvement, have been shown to help people recover from substance use disorders and other behavioral health concerns.
Marc Potenza, MD, PhD, is a Psychiatrist who specializes in Behavioral addictions, and his work at Yale in this essential area is a welcome addition to the field's researchers. Spiritual Engagement in Drug Use Disorder Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery: Neural Correlates of Spiritual Experiences has promising implications for spiritual engagement in substance use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery. Participants were scanned while reminiscing about their own unique spiritual experience, but the results were consistent across the board. This means that in order to reap the advantages, a person does not need to engage in a specific sort of spiritual practice, but rather can engage in whichever version of participation is most compatible with their particular views. This encourages patients to engage in a variety of spiritual activities as part of their treatment and rehabilitation programs.
Spirituality helps alleviate stress and create emotions of closeness, according to this study, which established a means to assess and illustrate what many recovery and treatment communities have known for years. Fellowship and treatment programs can empower individuals in recovery to use spirituality as a proven method to improve their mental health by learning what parts of the brain are affected during spiritual practice.
What are examples of spiritual experiences?
A spiritual experience is defined as an occurrence that is beyond human comprehension in terms of how it may have occurred in the first place. Situations like avoiding death in an otherwise deadly situation or incomprehensible monetary gain are examples of these types of encounters. Another example is looking back in time to see how things unfolded in ways you could never have imagined. While you may not have had a “burning bush” encounter, you should be aware that spiritual experiences are not one-size-fits-all. Here are some suggestions to help you determine if you experienced a spiritual encounter or not.