Spiritual Well-Being Predicts Psychological Well-Being

Spiritual Well-Being Predicts Psychological Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Spiritual wellbeing means the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life through a person’s connectedness with self, others art, music, literature, nature, or a power greater than oneself.” – Ritika Srivastava

 

There is a lot of pressure on university students to excel. This stress might in fact be counterproductive as the increased pressure can actually lead to stress and anxiety which can impede the student’s physical and mental health, well-being, and school performance. Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. This suggests that student spirituality may be associated with their psychological well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Cross-sectional study of the relationship between the spiritual wellbeing and psychological health among university Students.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8049307/ ) Leung and colleagues recruited university students and had them complete measures of spiritual well-being, including measures of personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental well-being, depression, anxiety, and perceived stress.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spiritual well-being, including measures of personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental well-being, the lower the levels of depression, anxiety, and perceived stress. They also found that participants who indicated that they had religious beliefs had higher levels of depression, anxiety, perceived stress, and spiritual well-being.

 

These findings are correlational and as such no conclusions regarding causation can be reached. The fact that spiritual well-being was higher in students with religious beliefs but depression, anxiety, and perceived stress were higher suggests that the results were not due to a causal connection. In this case having higher spiritual well-being was not associated with better psychological well-being. Nevertheless, the results clearly show that spiritual well-being is highly related to higher levels of psychological well-being The results also suggest that religiosity is related to poorer psychological well-being. There are no data on the reasons for the relationships but perhaps reverse causation is involved such that higher levels of psychological distress may reduce students’ psychological well-being and prompt them to seek out religion.

 

So, spiritual well-being predicts psychological well-being.

 

whole health requires care and attention for not only your physical body but also your mind and spirit. The benefits of spiritual well-being are numerous – from more compassionate relationships to a deeper sense of inner peace. – Advent Health

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Leung, C. H., & Pong, H. K. (2021). Cross-sectional study of the relationship between the spiritual wellbeing and psychological health among university Students. PloS one, 16(4), e0249702. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0249702

 

Abstract

University students’ spiritual wellbeing has been shown to be associated with quality, satisfaction, and joy of life. This study tested the relationship between spiritual wellbeing and symptoms of psychological disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety and stress) among Chinese university students in Hong Kong. Cross-sectional data were collected from N = 500 students (aged 17–24; 279 women). The participants were asked to complete the Spiritual Health and Life-Orientation Measure (SHALOM) to evaluate the status of their spiritual wellbeing in the personal and communal, environmental, and transcendental domains, and the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale-21 (DASS-21) to assess their emotional states of depression, anxiety and stress. All domains of spiritual wellbeing were negatively associated with psychological distress. Hierarchical Multiple Regression showed that together the three domains of spirituality explained 79.9%, 71.3% and 85.5% of the variance in students’ depression, anxiety and stress respectively. The personal and communal domain of spiritual wellbeing was the strongest predictor of psychological distress.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8049307/

 

Emotionally Touching Moments of Wonderous Awe Promotes Wellbeing

Emotionally Touching Moments of Wonderous Awe Promotes Wellbeing

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

And if a person is religious, I think it’s good, it helps you a bit. But if you’re not, at least you can have the sense that there is a condition inside you which looks at the stars with amazement and awe.” Maya Angelou

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth, well-being, and mental health. Spirituality can also promote the occurrence of wondering awe which are emotional reactions to touching experiences. Wondering awe can induce internal changes in the individual. So, it is important to examine the relationships of wondering awe, spirituality, and well-being.

 

In today’s Research News article “Wondering Awe as a Perceptive Aspect of Spirituality and Its Relation to Indicators of Wellbeing: Frequency of Perception and Underlying Triggers.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A ) Büssing and colleagues recruited adult participants online and had them complete measures of Awe and Gratitude, spiritual experiences, well-being, and frequency of meditation and prayer. A separate group of participants wrote descriptions of situations where they experienced moments of wondering awe.

 

They found that women had significantly more experiences of awe than the men and older participants had more than younger participants. Christians had higher scores than non-religious participants but less than other denominations. They also found that the greater the frequency of awe the higher the well-being of the participants and the greater experiences of the sacred in daily life. The participants with the highest frequencies of awe were older, had the greater frequencies of spiritual practices, and the highest well-being and were more likely to meditate than pray. The descriptions of experiences of awe and gratitude were used to identify the triggers that elicited the experiences, and these were nature, persons, unique moments, and aesthetics, beauty, and devotion.

 

These findings are correlative. So, no conclusions about causation can be definitively reached. But it is clear that these experiences of wonderous awe and gratitude most often occur in women, older individuals, and those with religious orientations and they were associated with the individual’s well-being and experiences of the sacred. They were most often triggered by environmental conditions.

 

It is important to study these emotionally touching moments of awe and gratitude as they are associated with inner change in the individual. They can trigger new attitudes, insights, and behaviors. Importantly, they are associated with the person’s overall well-being. Future research might attempt to trigger more experiences of wonderous awe by immersing participants in the situations that tend to elicit awe and gratitude and examine their impact on the individual’s health, well-being, and spirituality.

 

So, emotionally touching moments of wonderous awe promotes wellbeing.

 

We can all experience feelings of awe as we ponder how everything that we witness is created and aligned in such a way that our lives unfold the way they do.” – K. Barrett

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Büssing A (2021) Wondering Awe as a Perceptive Aspect of Spirituality and Its Relation to Indicators of Wellbeing: Frequency of Perception and Underlying Triggers. Front. Psychol. 12:738770. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770

 

Background: Spirituality is a multidimensional construct which includes religious, existentialistic, and relational issues and has different layers such as faith as the core, related attitudes and conviction, and subsequent behaviors and practices. The perceptive aspects of spirituality such as wondering awe are of relevance for both, religious and non-religious persons. These perceptions were related to perceiving the Sacred in life, mindful awareness of nature, others and self, to compassion, meaning in life, and emotional wellbeing. As awe perceptions are foremost a matter of state, it was the aim (1) to empirically analyze the frequency of wondering awe perceptions (i.e., with respect to gender, age cohorts, religious or non-religious persons) and (2) to qualitatively analyze a range of triggers of awe perceptions.

Methods: Data from 7,928 participants were analyzed with respect to the frequency of Awe/Gratitude perceptions (GrAw-7 scale), while for the second part of the study responses of a heterogeneous group of 82 persons what caused them to perceive moments of wondering awe were analyzed with qualitative content analysis techniques.

Results: Persons who experience Awe/Gratitude to a low extend were the youngest and had lowest wellbeing and lowest meditation/praying engagement, while those with high GrAw-7 scores were the oldest, had the highest wellbeing, and were more often meditating or praying (p<0.001). Gender had a significant effect on these perceptions, too (Cohen’s d=0.32). In the qualitative part, the triggers can be attributed to four main categories, Nature, Persons, Unique Moments, and Aesthetics, Beauty, and Devotion. Some of these triggers and related perceptions might be more a matter of admiration than wondering awe, while other perceptions could have more profound effects and may thus result in changes of a person’s attitudes and behaviors.

Conclusion: Emotionally touching experiences of wondering awe may result in feelings of interconnectedness, prosocial behavior, mindful awareness, and contribute to a person’s meaning in life and wellbeing and can also be a health-relevant resource. These perceptions can be seen as a perceptive aspect of spirituality, which is not exclusively experienced by religious people but also by non-religious persons.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.738770/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A

 

Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

Psychedelic Drugs are Theorized to have Aided in Human Social Evolution

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“psychedelics have profound cognitive, emotional, and social effects that inspired the development of cultures and religions worldwide.” – Michael J. Winkelman

 

Psychedelic substances such as peyote, mescaline, LSD, Bufotoxin, ayahuasca and psilocybin have been used almost since the beginning of recorded history to alter consciousness and produce spiritually meaningful experiences. Psychedelics produce effects that are similar to those that are reported in spiritual awakenings, a positive mood, with renewed energy and enthusiasm. It is easy to see why people find these experiences so pleasant and eye opening. They often report that the experiences changed them forever.

 

It is not known why the use of psychedelic substances have been so widely used throughout human evolution. Natural selection suggests that the use of these substances must confer some adaptive advantage, or their use would have ceased. What exactly are those advantages is a source of active debate in the scientific community. In today’s Research News article “Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A ) Arce and colleagues provide an evidence backed theoretical argument regarding the role of psychedelic substances in the evolution of humankind.

 

There is substantial evidence that early hominids routinely ingested fungi including mushroom that contained psychedelic substances. Early recorded history includes description of psychedelic uses in Mesoamerican societies. Indeed, psychedelic use has been recorded in early societies in Africa, Asia, Europe, Middle East, South America, Artic and Subarctic, and Central America. This suggests that there must be some instrumental effect of these substances that enhances the survival of humans.

 

Psilocybin and related psychedelics do not have physically toxic side effects. So, they can be ingested safely. The only evident problem is a change in cognition that could open “the possibility for errors in judgment, false perceptions, distortions, and illusions that could undermine an individual’s capacity for alertness, strategic thinking, and decision-making”. But early humans learned to use these substances in particular circumstances, such as rituals,  where the consequences of altered cognition could be minimized.

 

In their favor, psychedelic substances have been shown to improve coping with stress which was likely high in early hominid development. In addition, psychedelic substances have been used throughout history for the treatment of diseases and in recent years have been found to be effective in promoting recovery from a cancer diagnosis, relieving depression, and even in smoking cessation.

 

Psychedelic substances have traditionally been used in groups particularly around rituals and religious ceremonies which would improve social bonds, group cohesion, and pro-social behavior. This would facilitate social cooperation that was essential for early hominid group survival. Psychedelic substances have also been shown to enhance creative thinking and problem solving which would be of great use in adapting to changing environments.

 

These findings and arguments suggest that ingesting psychedelic substances may have been adaptive for humans increasing their chances of survival and procreation. It seems counterintuitive that ingesting substances that for the short term may make the individual less responsive and capable in the environment could actually improve survival. But that is what psychedelic substances appear to do. In this way ingesting psychedelic substances may be adaptive and thus be promoted in evolution.

 

So, psychedelic drugs are theorized to have aided in human social evolution

 

psychedelic drugs. By simulating the effects of religious transcendence, they mimic states of mind that played an evolutionarily valuable role in making human cooperation possible – and with it, greater numbers of surviving descendants.” – James Carney

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rodríguez Arce JM and Winkelman MJ (2021) Psychedelics, Sociality, and Human Evolution. Front. Psychol. 12:729425. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425

 

Our hominin ancestors inevitably encountered and likely ingested psychedelic mushrooms throughout their evolutionary history. This assertion is supported by current understanding of: early hominins’ paleodiet and paleoecology; primate phylogeny of mycophagical and self-medicative behaviors; and the biogeography of psilocybin-containing fungi. These lines of evidence indicate mushrooms (including bioactive species) have been a relevant resource since the Pliocene, when hominins intensified exploitation of forest floor foods. Psilocybin and similar psychedelics that primarily target the serotonin 2A receptor subtype stimulate an active coping strategy response that may provide an enhanced capacity for adaptive changes through a flexible and associative mode of cognition. Such psychedelics also alter emotional processing, self-regulation, and social behavior, often having enduring effects on individual and group well-being and sociality. A homeostatic and drug instrumentalization perspective suggests that incidental inclusion of psychedelics in the diet of hominins, and their eventual addition to rituals and institutions of early humans could have conferred selective advantages. Hominin evolution occurred in an ever-changing, and at times quickly changing, environmental landscape and entailed advancement into a socio-cognitive niche, i.e., the development of a socially interdependent lifeway based on reasoning, cooperative communication, and social learning. In this context, psychedelics’ effects in enhancing sociality, imagination, eloquence, and suggestibility may have increased adaptability and fitness. We present interdisciplinary evidence for a model of psychedelic instrumentalization focused on four interrelated instrumentalization goals: management of psychological distress and treatment of health problems; enhanced social interaction and interpersonal relations; facilitation of collective ritual and religious activities; and enhanced group decision-making. The socio-cognitive niche was simultaneously a selection pressure and an adaptive response, and was partially constructed by hominins through their activities and their choices. Therefore, the evolutionary scenario put forward suggests that integration of psilocybin into ancient diet, communal practice, and proto-religious activity may have enhanced hominin response to the socio-cognitive niche, while also aiding in its creation. In particular, the interpersonal and prosocial effects of psilocybin may have mediated the expansion of social bonding mechanisms such as laughter, music, storytelling, and religion, imposing a systematic bias on the selective environment that favored selection for prosociality in our lineage.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.729425/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1750137_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20211012_arts_A

 

Spirituality is Related to Reduced Depression but Negative Religiosity is Associated with Suicidality

Spirituality is Related to Reduced Depression but Negative Religiosity is Associated with Suicidality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The trouble is that just as it is hard to feel connected to other people while depressed, it is difficult to feel connected to God. A leap of trust and faith is frequently needed to be spiritual while depressed.” – Healthtalk.org

 

Depression and other mood disorders are the number-one risk factor for suicide. More than 90% of people who kill themselves have a mental disorder, whether depression, bipolar disorder or some other diagnosis. So, the best way to prevent suicide may be to treat the underlying cause. For many this means treating depression.

 

Spirituality is defined as “one’s personal affirmation of and relationship to a higher power or to the sacred. There have been a number of studies of the influence of spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Spirituality may help to provide meaning and prevent suicide. But there is scant research on the relationship of spirituality and religiosity and suicide.

 

In today’s Research News article “Comparison of religiosity and spirituality in patients of depression with and without suicidal attempts.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8221206/ ) Dua and colleagues

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies recruited 2 groups of patients both with depression and suicidal ideation and one with an additional suicide attempt. They also recruited age and gender matched healthy control participants. They completed measures of the depression, impulsivity, hopelessness, anxiety, irritability, mania, suicide severity, centrality of religion and spiritual attitudes.

 

They found that the depressed groups did not differ in purpose, hope, and organized, nonorganized religious activities and intrinsic religiosity. On the other hand, patients with suicidal ideation generally had a family history of suicide. Patients who had attempted suicide were significantly higher in hopelessness and suicide ideation and lower on social support than patients who had nor attempted suicide. They also had significantly higher levels of negative religious coping. Compared to the healthy controls the depressed groups were significantly lower in religiosity. They also found that the lower the levels of religiosity the greater the levels of suicidal ideation and the higher the number of suicide attempts. But, in the suicide attempters higher levels of ideological religiosity was associated with greater severity of suicide ideation.

 

These are interesting but correlative findings and as such causation cannot be determined. Nevertheless, the results suggest that spirituality, although associated with lower depression, is not significantly related to suicide ideation or attempts. On the other hand, negative religious coping, ideological religiosity, and low religiosity were. In other words, being religious, in general is not a problem. But adhering to the ideology or using negative religious coping are associated with suicidality.

 

Negative religious coping involves struggling with religion, questioning, guilt, and perceived distance from and negative views of god. This type of coping does not provide support in times of psychological distress and in fact may exacerbate feelings of hopelessness. Regardless, it appears that non-spiritual uses and ideas about religion and god my be associated with more thoughts about suicide and an increased likelihood of attempting suicide.

 

So, spirituality is related to reduced depression but negative religiosity is associated with suicidality.

 

Whether your depression manifests itself as a loss of appetite, decreased sense of self-worth, lost productivity, feelings of helplessness, prolonged worry or any other symptom, spirituality can absolutely help an individual along their journey toward purpose.” – Pyramid Healthcare

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Dua, D., Padhy, S., & Grover, S. (2021). Comparison of religiosity and spirituality in patients of depression with and without suicidal attempts. Indian journal of psychiatry, 63(3), 258–269. https://doi.org/10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_246_20

 

Abstract

Aim:

This study is aimed to compare the religiosity and spirituality of patients with first-episode depression with suicidal ideation and those with recent suicidal attempts. Additional aim was compare the religiosity and spirituality of patients with first-episode depression with healthy controls.

Methods:

Patients of first episode depression with suicidal ideation and healthy controls were assessed by Centrality of Religiosity Scale (CRS), Duke University Religion Index (DUREL), Brief Religious coping scale (R-COPE), and Spiritual Attitude Inventory (SAI).

Results:

Patients with depression were divided into two groups based on the presence (n = 53) or absence (n = 62) of suicidal attempts in the previous 14 days. Both the patients with and without suicide attempts were matched for depression severity. Both the patient groups did not differ in terms of religiosity and spirituality as assessed using CRS and SAI. Both depression groups had lower scores on religiosity as compared to healthy controls as assessed on CRS. The two groups also had a lower score on the “sense of hope” which is a part of SAI, when compared to healthy controls. Compared to patients without suicide attempts (i.e., ideators group) and healthy controls, subjects with suicide attempts more often used negative religious coping. Total numbers of lifetime suicide attempts in the attempt group were associated with the ideology domain of the CRS.

Conclusion:

Compared with healthy controls, patients with depression have lower levels of religiosity and spirituality. In the presence of comparable severity of depression, higher use of negative religious coping is associated with suicide attempts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8221206/

Spirituality Modifies Coping with Covid-19 Evoked Psychological Distress

Spirituality Modifies Coping with Covid-19 Evoked Psychological Distress

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“COVID-19 . . . patients are suffering greatly from spiritual distress as well: existential distress, struggles with uncertainty, despair, hopelessness, isolation, feelings of abandonment by God or others, grief, and the need for reconciliation.” – GW School of Medicine

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged the mental and physical health of the population. It has created intense stress for frontline workers but also for people simply isolating at home. Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. Perhaps, then, spirituality can be helpful in relieving stress and improve coping with the mental and physical challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

In today’s Research News article “Coping with COVID-19: An Examination of the Role of (Non)Religiousness/(Non)Spirituality.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140577/ ) Abbott and Franks recruited adults over the internet and had them complete measures of coping strategies, psychological distress (anxiety, depression, and perceived stress), religiousness, spirituality, and pandemic related trauma.

 

They found that the higher the levels of pandemic related trauma and dysfunctional coping, the higher the levels of psychological distress experienced by the participants. Trauma was found to be both directly and indirectly associated with psychological distress via dysfunctional coping. This was true for religious, non-religious, and high and moderate spirituality participants but not for low spirituality participants.

 

These results are correlational and as such caution must be exercised in forming conclusions regarding causation. But the relationship is clear between the trauma created by the pandemic and psychological distress, people who are traumatized experience high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress. The trauma is also related to dysfunctional coping suggesting that traumatized individual tend to engage in maladaptive coping strategies. Dysfunctional coping involves coping with difficulties by behavioral disengagement, denial, self-distraction, self-blame, substance use and venting and these strategies are associated with heightened levels of trauma. Finally, the analysis suggests that pandemic related trauma is associated with psychological distress directly and also indirectly by being associated with higher levels of dysfunctional coping which in turn is associated with higher levels of distress.

 

These results suggest that religion and spirituality are helpful in coping with trauma produced by the Covid-19 pandemic. But not with those having low levels of spirituality. Spirituality generally implies a feeling or belief in something beyond the physical. Conversely, low spirituality would imply a focus solely on the physical. So, the results suggest that trauma does not affect coping’s effects on psychological distress when there’s a belief that only physical forces are involved. This then suggests that spirituality increases the individual’s attempts to deal with trauma with coping strategies.

 

So, spirituality modifies coping with covid-19 evoked psychological distress.

 

“during a major crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to make sure that everyone is getting spiritual care.” – Eric Hall

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Abbott, D. M., & Franks, A. S. (2021). Coping with COVID-19: An Examination of the Role of (Non)Religiousness/(Non)Spirituality. Journal of religion and health, 60(4), 2395–2410. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-021-01284-9

 

Abstract

Psychological distress and coping strategies employed during collective trauma events may vary for theists and atheists, as well as others along the (non)religious spectrum. The present study explored these differences via data collected from a US-based sample during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistical models suggested relationships between maladaptive coping and distress for all participants and potential differences in coping and, in turn, distress between participants high and low in institutional religiousness and individual spirituality. Additionally, all participants, though especially nonreligious participants, appeared less able to engage in adaptive emotion-focused coping strategies. Implications for future research are provided.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8140577/

 

Yoga Practice is Positively Related to Spirituality

Yoga Practice is Positively Related to Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“This ancient science goes far beyond the mere physical aspects, by way of deepening the connection between mind, body and most important of all, the spirit.“ – Himalayan Yoga Institute

 

Yoga developed in India millennia ago as a deep spiritual practice. It developed as a contemplative practice that unified body and mind. Yoga was known to have physical benefits, but the most important benefit was seen to be spiritual development. But as yoga emerged and was practiced in the west it was secularized. This was for good reason, as western society was not ready to accept an ancient eastern spiritual practice. As a result, to the vast majority of westerners, yoga is an exercise to improve appearance and  physical fitness. It is a means to mold the body to look good, as a health promoting practice, and as a strategy to help lose weight. It is unclear whether the association of yoga with spirituality is still present in western societies.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Relationship Between Yoga and Spirituality: A Systematic Review of Empirical Research.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.695939/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1699247_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210805_arts_A ) Csala and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the association of Yoga practice with spirituality. They identified 30 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research found that yoga practice produces increases in the spirituality of practitioners. They report that the regularity of yoga practice is positively related to the increased spirituality. In western cultures the most frequent reasons for yoga practice are physical, particularly health and appearance. But as practice continues s spirituality becomes more and more the goal of practice regardless of the original intent. In addition, they report that yoga practitioners are spiritual as opposed to religious. Practitioners emphasize direct conscious experience.

 

Hence, in the west, regular yoga practice leads to increased spirituality regardless of the original intent of engaging in yoga practice. This suggests that components of yoga practice have characteristics that lead to increased spirituality. This could well be the present moment focus involved in yoga practice. This improved spirituality may be, at least in part, the mechanism by which yoga practice leads to greater physical and psychological well-being.

 

So, yoga practice is positively related to spirituality.

 

Yoga is not a religion (though those who are unfamiliar with it sometimes misunderstand it as such). Yoga is a practice, and a philosophy. It is a lens through which to understand the world and your place in it. And if you do have a religion, or spiritual practice of any kind, it gives you a set of practical tools that can help to deepen your faith.” – Katie Malik

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Csala B, Springinsfeld CM and Köteles F (2021) The Relationship Between Yoga and Spirituality: A Systematic Review of Empirical Research. Front. Psychol. 12:695939. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.695939

 

Objective: Both yoga practice and spirituality are associated with beneficial mental health outcomes. Within yoga research, however, spirituality is still a widely neglected area. The present systematic review aims to explore empirical studies, which do, in fact, investigate the relationship between yoga and spirituality in order to provide an overview and future directions for research on this topic. The review examines whether available empirical research supports an association between yoga practice and spirituality and, if so, which specific aspects of spirituality are associated with yoga practice.

Methods: The systematic review followed the PRISMA guideline (Prospero registration number: CRD42020155043). Empirical studies written in English, German, or Hungarian language were selected from a database search in Google Scholar, PsycINFO, and Science Direct. A total of 30 studies met the final inclusion criteria.

Results: According to the quantitative and qualitative studies reviewed, yoga practice seems to be positively associated with spirituality. This association concerns various aspects of spirituality, such as spiritual aspirations, a search for insight/wisdom, an integrative worldview, a sense of meaning and peace, faith, hope, compassion, and happiness within. To harness the potential spiritual benefits of yoga, regular practice appears to be essential. Yoga practitioners seem to have both physical and spiritual motives for practicing. At least in Western societies, however, physical intentions are more prevalent than spiritual ones. The meaning of spirituality for yoga practitioners is also discussed. Due to risk of bias of the majority of the reviewed studies, however, outcomes must be taken with caution.

Conclusion: Yoga practice may be positively associated with several aspects of spirituality. For more evidence, further investigation of the topic is suggested. Particularly, we propose the inclusion of holistic forms of yoga practice and a comparison of Eastern and Western approaches to yoga.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.695939/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1699247_a0P58000000G0YfEAK_Psycho_20210805_arts_A

 

Spirituality and Religion are Associated with Better Well-Being in Medical Residents

Spirituality and Religion are Associated with Better Well-Being in Medical Residents

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Most internal medicine residents have positive attitudes toward spirituality, religion, and medicine. They do not have adequate knowledge or skill to care for patients in this area.” – Gina M. Piscitello

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners and patients mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health. But there is still a need to investigate the relationships of spirituality with psychological well-being in patients and medical residents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Spirituality and religion in residents and inter-relationships with clinical practice and residency training: a scoping review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166631/ ) Chow and colleagues review and summarize the published research on the relationship of spirituality and religion to the psychological well-being of patients and medical residents. They identified 44 published studies.

 

They report that the research found that medical residents believed that spirituality and religion were important to patients and made a difference in the outcomes of treatment. Over half of the residents identified themselves as spiritual or religious. The higher the degree of spirituality but not church going of the residents’ the greater sense of accomplishment and overall health and the lower the levels of burnout and depression. They report that although the patients rarely brought up spirituality and religion and the residents rarely inquired, when the medical issue was very serious and life threatening, it was brought up 72% of the time. They also report that the curriculum for medical residents rarely included spirituality and religion topics.

 

The findings suggest that the majority of medical residents recognize the importance of spirituality and religion for their patients and that it positively relates to treatment adherence and clinical outcomes, but the issues were rarely addressed. Spirituality and religion were important personally to the majority of the residents and were related to better well-being and lower burnout. But there was little instruction in the curriculum about these issues and there was great reticence to bring it up with patients. This suggests that training curricula for medical residents should include greater incorporation of spiritual and religious issues and how to incorporate them into patient care.

 

So, spirituality and religion are associated with better well-being in medical residents.

 

Although religion and spirituality continue to be contested and controversial topics in our society, the existing evidence highlights patients’ desires to have some level of spiritual interaction with their healthcare providers.” – James Behan

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chow, H., Chew, Q. H., & Sim, K. (2021). Spirituality and religion in residents and inter-relationships with clinical practice and residency training: a scoping review. BMJ open, 11(5), e044321. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2020-044321

 

Abstract

Objectives

With the increased emphasis on personalised, patient-centred care, there is now greater acceptance and expectation for the physician to address issues related to spirituality and religion (SR) during clinical consultations with patients. In light of the clinical need to improve SR-related training in residency, this review sought to examine the extant literature on the attitudes of residents regarding SR during residency training, impact on clinical care and psychological well-being of residents and SR-related curriculum implemented within various residency programmes.

Design

A scoping review was conducted on studies examining the topic of SR within residency training up until July 2020 on PubMed/Medline and Web of Science databases. Keywords for the literature search included: (Spirituality OR Religion) AND (Residen* OR “Postgraduate Medicine” OR “Post-graduate Medicine” OR “Graduate Medical Education”).

Results

Overall, 44 studies were included. The majority were conducted in North America (95.5%) predominantly within family medicine (29.5%), psychiatry (29.5%) and internal medicine (25%) residency programmes. While residents held positive attitudes about the role of SR and impact on patient care (such as better therapeutic relationship, treatment adherence and coping with illness), they often lacked the knowledge and skills to address these issues. Better spiritual well-being of residents was associated with greater sense of work accomplishment, overall self-rated health, decreased burnout and depressive symptoms. SR-related curricula varied from standalone workshops to continuous modules across the training years.

Conclusions

These findings suggest a need to better integrate appropriate SR-related education within residency training. Better engagement of the residents through different pedagogical strategies with supervision, feedback, reflective practice and ongoing faculty and peer support can enhance learning about SR in clinical care. Future studies should identify barriers to SR-related training and evaluate the outcomes of these SR-related curriculum including how they impact the well-being of patients and residents over time.

Keywords: medical education & training, Education & training (see medical education & training), mental

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8166631/

 

Worldview and Existential Search are Related to Stress Responding

Worldview and Existential Search are Related to Stress Responding

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Faith is one way many people cope with difficult events to promote mental well-being. However, faith can be a complicated part of a person’s identity.” – Jamie Aten

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

An individual’s worldview is inversely related to existential search and strong existential search is an indicator of an insecure worldview. An insecure worldview may influence the relationship of religion and spirituality with stress responding.  Hence, there is a need to investigate the relationships of worldview, religion, spirituality with stress responding.

 

In today’s Research News article “Worldview Under Stress: Preliminary Findings on Cardiovascular and Cortisol Stress Responses Predicted by Secularity, Religiosity, Spirituality, and Existential Search.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7068247/ )  Schnell and colleagues recruited college students and selected students who professed being religious, spiritual, atheist, or agnostic. They completed measures of atheism. spirituality, religiosity, existential search, anxiety, depression, blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary cortisol. They were measured for their responses to social stress by giving a speech in front of two researchers with video cameras.

 

They found that religious participants had significantly better responses to social stress as measured by systolic blood pressure and heart rates while atheists had significantly worse responding. In addition, they found that the higher the levels of existential search the higher the levels of stress responses. Spiritual students had significantly higher levels of existential search.

 

The results of this study suggest that people with different worldviews (religious, spiritual, atheist, or agnostic) have different responses to stress with religious students the best and atheists the worst. The results also suggest that the differences may be due to differences in existential search. A sample question from the measure of existential search is “As far as my worldview is concerned, I am in constant development.” This suggests that having a settled worldview reduces stress responding. Spirituality is characterized by high existential search suggesting that these individuals see themselves as in a process of continual development and this appears to be the reason for their stress responses. Atheism is thought to be a settled world view. But the individual has no higher power to look to for help when stressed. This may be why they have the highest levels of stress responding; it’s all up to themselves.

 

These results are interesting but do not reveal causation as the kinds of individuals drawn to the different worldviews may also be the kinds of individuals who differ in stress responding. This is a question that is impossible to resolve as worldview cannot be manipulated to establish causation. Nevertheless, individuals who differ in worldview, differ in stress responding, perhaps underlying the different relationships of religiosity and spirituality with health and well-being.

 

So, worldview and existential search are related to stress responding.

 

Research has shown that religion and spirituality can help people cope with the effects of everyday stress. One study found that everyday spiritual experiences helped older adults better cope with negative feelings and enhanced positive feelings.” – Elizabeth Scott

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Schnell, T., Fuchs, D., & Hefti, R. (2020). Worldview Under Stress: Preliminary Findings on Cardiovascular and Cortisol Stress Responses Predicted by Secularity, Religiosity, Spirituality, and Existential Search. Journal of religion and health, 59(6), 2969–2989. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-020-01008-5

 

Abstract

This study reports preliminary findings on the hypothesis that worldview can predict cardiovascular and cortisol responses to social stress. Based on theory and previous findings, we assumed that worldview security would provide a basis for stress resilience. Accordingly, religious and atheist individuals were expected to show higher stress resilience than spiritual and agnostic participants. Likewise, dimensional measures of religiosity and atheism were hypothesized to predict decreased, and existential search—indicating worldview insecurity—was hypothesized to predict increased physiological stress responses. Subjects included 50 university students who completed online questionnaires and took part in a standardized social stress test (Trier Social Stress Test). Systolic and diastolic blood pressure (SBP/DBP), heart rate (HR), and salivary cortisol (SC) were assessed at baseline, immediately after stress testing, and during a forty-minute recovery period. Worldview comparisons revealed lower cardiovascular stress responses among religious than among atheist and spiritual participants and particularly high baseline SC among spiritual participants. Across the entire sample, existential search showed substantial positive correlations with SBP, HR, and SC stress parameters. The findings suggest that worldview security might partly explain the health benefits often associated with religion.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7677289/

 

The Well-Being and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients are Related to Spirituality

The Well-Being and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients are Related to Spirituality

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Many patients with cancer rely on spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to help them cope with their disease. This is called spiritual coping.” – National Cancer Institute

 

A cancer diagnosis has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they survive cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality may be useful for cancer patients to cope with their illness and the psychological difficulties resulting from the disease. Thus, there is a need to study the relationships of spirituality on the well-being and quality of life of cancer patients.

 

In today’s Research News article “Association between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynecological cancer in China.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7793354/) Chen and colleagues recruited women with primary gynecological cancer and had them complete measures of quality of life with cancer, global health, spiritual well-being, anxiety, and depression.

 

They found that the higher the levels of spiritual well-being the higher the levels of global health and quality of life and the lower the levels of depression and anxiety. Multiple regression analysis revealed that religion, depression, anxiety and quality of life were the strongest predictors of spiritual well-being.

 

These findings are correlational and as a result causation cannot be determined. Regardless, the results clearly show that spiritual well-being is significantly related to better health and quality of life and lower psychological problems in women with primary gynecological cancer. These findings are similar to those seen with other forms of cancer that spirituality is associated with the patient’s quality of life and well-being. This raises the possibility that promoting spirituality in cancer patients may improve their physical and psychological well-being. It remains for future research to explore this possibility.

 

So, the well-being and quality of life in cancer patients are related to spirituality.

 

Consistent associations between spirituality, spiritual well-being, and health outcomes found in published studies highlight the importance of providing spiritual care to enhance cancer patients’ spiritual well-being and address their spiritual needs.” – Yi-Hui Lee

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Chen, J., You, H., Liu, Y., Kong, Q., Lei, A., & Guo, X. (2021). Association between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynaecological cancer in China. Medicine, 100(1), e24264. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000024264

 

Abstract

The physical and psychological condition of patients with gynaecological cancer has received much attention, but there is little research on spirituality in palliative care. This study aimed to investigate spiritual well-being and its association with quality of life, anxiety and depression in patients with gynaecological cancer. A cross-sectional study was conducted in China in 2019 with 705 patients diagnosed with primary gynaecological cancer. European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer quality of life instruments (EORTC QLQ-SWB32 and EORTC QLQ-C30) and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used to measure spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression. Univariate and multiple linear regression analyses were performed to examine associations between spiritual well-being, quality of life, anxiety and depression. Functioning scales and global health status were positively correlated with spiritual well-being (P < .05). Anxiety and depression were negatively correlated with spiritual well-being (P < .05). Depression (−0.362, P < .001) was the strongest predictor of Existential score. Anxiety (−0.522, P < .001) was the only predictor of Relationship with self. Depression (−0.350, P < .001) and Global health (0.099, P = .011) were the strongest predictors of Relationship with others. Religion (−0.204, P < .001) and Depression (−0.196, P < .001) were the strongest predictors of Relationship with someone or something greater. Global health (0.337, P < .001) and Depression (−0.144, P < .001) were the strongest predictors of Global-SWB. Well spiritual well-being is associated with lower anxiety and depression, and better quality of life. Health providers should provide more spiritual care for non-religious patients and combine spiritual care with psychological counselling to help patients with gynaecological cancer, especially those who have low quality of life or severe symptoms, or experience anxiety or depression.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7793354/

 

Spirituality is Associated with the Long-Term Psychological Health of Cancer Survivors

Spirituality is Associated with the Long-Term Psychological Health of Cancer Survivors

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“spiritual or religious beliefs and practices create a positive mental attitude that may help a patient feel better and improve the well-being of family caregivers. Spiritual and religious well-being may help improve health and quality of life.” – National Cancer Institute

 

Surviving cancer has a huge impact on most people. Feelings of depression, anxiety, and fear are very common and are normal responses to this life-changing experience. These feeling can result from changes in body image, changes to family and work roles, feelings of grief at these losses, and physical symptoms such as pain, nausea, or fatigue. People might also fear death, suffering, pain, or all the unknown things that lie ahead. So, coping with the emotions and stress of a surviving cancer is a challenge and there are no simple treatments for these psychological sequelae of cancer.

 

Religion and spirituality become much more important to people when they survive cancer. It is thought that people take comfort in the spiritual when facing mortality. Hence, spirituality may be useful for the survivors of cancer to cope with their illness and the psychological difficulties resulting from the disease. Thus, there is a need to study the relationships of spirituality on the long-term psychological health of cancer survivors.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Influence of Daily Spiritual Experiences and Gender on Subjective Well-Being Over Time in Cancer Survivors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500286/ ) Rudaz and colleagues garnered data from the longitudinal Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study

of adults that was collected in 2005 and again in 2015. They selected participants who reported having survived cancer and extracted data on spiritual and religious coping, daily spiritual experiences, life satisfaction, positive emotions, and negative emotions.

 

They report that for both men and women the higher the levels of spiritual experiences at baseline the higher the levels of religious coping, life satisfaction, and positive emotions, and the lower the levels of negative emotions at baseline and 10 years later. In addition, they found that spiritual experiences at baseline moderated the association of life satisfaction at baseline with life satisfaction 10 years later such that participants with low life satisfaction at baseline had a greater increase in life satisfaction 10 years later when they were higher in spiritual experiences. Also, they found that for men but not women that spiritual experiences at baseline moderated the association of positive emotions at baseline with positive emotions 10 years later such that men with low positive emotions at baseline had a greater increase in positive emotions 10 years later when they were higher in spiritual experiences.

 

These results are correlational and as such causation cannot be determined. But they show that cancer survivors having high levels of spirituality is associated with better psychological health and this is maintained over time. They also show that spirituality is associated with better psychological health 10 years later in cancer survivors who were low in life satisfaction and positive emotions. Hence, spirituality is important for the psychological health of cancer survivors and this lasts over decades.

 

So, spirituality is associated with the long-term psychological health of cancer survivors.

 

“Patients reporting greater overall religiousness and spirituality also reported better physical health, greater ability to perform their usual daily tasks, and fewer physical symptoms of cancer and treatment.” – Science Daily

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rudaz, M., Ledermann, T., & Grzywacz, J. G. (2019). The Influence of Daily Spiritual Experiences and Gender on Subjective Well-Being Over Time in Cancer Survivors. Archive for the psychology of religion = Archiv fur Religionspsychologie, 41(2), 159–171. https://doi.org/10.1177/0084672419839800

 

Abstract

Cancer survivors are at risk for poor subjective well-being, but the potential beneficial effect of daily spiritual experiences is unknown. Using data from the second and third wave of the Midlife in the United States (MIDUS) study, we examined the extent to which daily spiritual experiences at baseline moderate the association between subjective well-being at baseline and approximately 10 years later in cancer survivors (n = 288). Regression analyses, controlled for age, educational attainment, and religious/spiritual coping, showed that daily spiritual experiences moderated the association between life satisfaction at baseline and follow-up. Specifically, high spiritual experiences enhanced life satisfaction over time in cancer survivors with low life satisfaction at baseline. Also, daily spiritual experiences moderated the association between positive affect at baseline and follow-up, though this moderating effect was different for women and men. No moderating effect emerged for negative affect.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7500286/