Tag: wellness

Experiencing encounter with God helps improve mental health: Study

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According to Advaita (non-dualism) philosophy, realising Brahman (God) within oneself is the ultimate goal of every human being. And Brahman is described in Hindu scriptures as all-pervading, all-knowing, infinitely loving, infinitely intelligent, eternal being.

Like in any religious canon, ancient Hindu scriptures have a few laid out paths to pursue this goal which are mainly followed by those entrenched in religious beliefs. However, scriptures also mention external aides to attain the blissful state of realising Brahman. The juice of Soma creeper is one such aid often mentioned in the Vedas.

Now, a new study published by the journal PLOS ONE suggests that the psychological impact of experiencing an encounter with God after injecting with a psychedelic drug is almost same as in the naturally occurring God encounter.

According to the study conducted by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, those who had experienced an “encounter with God”, either spontaneously or induced by drugs, reported that they had had “communication with something that is conscious, benevolent, intelligent, sacred, eternal and all-knowing.” They also claimed the experience was “personally meaningful and spiritually significant” leading to positive changes in terms of life satisfaction, purpose and meaning.

However, majority of those who underwent such experience spontaneously identified the entity encountered as God, while most of those who experienced psychedelic-occasioned encounter called it Ultimate Reality.

The researchers recorded their findings based on an online survey, gathering data from 4,285 individuals. They grouped the participants into two categories – Non-drug and Psychedelic.

While significant numbers of participants in both the groups said the encounter was visual, auditory, and tactile, most of them claimed it was extrasensory. Nearly 90% of them claimed to have an emotional response in the encounter while about 75% received a message, mission, or insight and 20% acquired predictions about the future.

Both groups claimed the experience was vivid, but it was more so for Non-drug group. Similarly, both the group experienced transcendence of time and space, but it was intermediate for the Non-drug group, while mystical experience was complete for the Psychedelic group.

Most significantly, a majority from both the groups rated the encounter “to be among the top 5 most meaningful and spiritually significant experiences of their lifetime”, while 34% of Non-drug and 42% of Psychedelic indicated “the experience was the single most spiritually significant experience of their life”.

Interestingly, most of those who called themselves as atheist before the God encounter did not remain so afterwards. Also they claimed “a desirable change in contemplative, prayer, or meditation practice, a desirable change in understanding religious traditions of others, and decreased fear of death”.

In essence, experiencing an encounter with Godcan enormously lift the person’s psychological and spiritual make up, whether it is naturally occurring or chemically induced.

Lead researcher of the study Roland Griffiths sums it up in these words: “Although modern Western medicine doesn’t typically consider ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ experiences as one of the tools in the arsenal against sickness, our findings suggest that these encounters often lead to improvements in mental health”.

Be sad than angry in old age

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Aging brings along innumerable problems, one by one. With declining physical mobility and mental agility, most aged find it difficult to carry on with their regular activities as before. Emotionally, the impact of aging differs from person to person. Some may just resign to aging process by progressively reducing their activities, while some may get agitated for being unable to do what they want to do.

Old age also brings changes interpersonal and social relationships of a person. Some may get abandoned or ignored by their family members while some may become lonely after losing their dear ones. Even such scenarios impact different people differently. Some become sad, while some angry.

However, a new study by Concordia University claims anger is more damaging than sadness vis-à-vis physical health in old people. It was found that anger can result in chronic illness whereas sadness could help the aged adjust to the new challenges thrown up by aging.

The study involved analyzing data from 226 elderly people aged between 59 and 93. The participants were divided into two groups – old age (59-79 years) and advanced old age (80 years and above). The researchers examined how angry or sad they felt via questionnaire and measured inflammation via blood samples. Generally, inflammation helps protect the body and facilitates healing. But long-lasting inflammation may result in chronic illnesses in old people.

It was found that those who experienced anger daily had higher levels of inflammation as well as  chronic illness in the advanced old age group. However, it was not the case with those in the younger group as well as those who reported sadness.

According to the researchers, anger being an energizing emotion can help motivate people to work towards life goals. As such, younger seniors seem to be able to use anger as fuel to tackle emerging age-related losses and challenges, which can keep them healthier. Anger becomes problematic only when people get too old.

Hence, even if old, try to be as happy as possible and try to keep anger under check.