Although I. Growing up as a Catholic, for most of my adult life, I didn’t give much importance to religion. Like many scientists, I assumed that it was built on opinion, conjecture or even hope, and was therefore irrelevant to my work. This work is running a psychology lab that focuses on finding ways to improve people’s conditions, using science tools to develop strategies that can help people cope with their challenges. But within 20 years of starting this work, I have learned how psychologists and neuroscientists can change people’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors – how to support them in times of grief, how to help them more morally, how to connect and be happy. Lets find out – religions echo ideas and strategies used for thousands of years.
Science and religion were often at odds. But if we remove theology from the daily practice of religious beliefs like remove the nature of God, creation of the universe, and so on, then the hostility of the debate evaporates. What we have is a continuum of rituals, customs and feelings that are themselves the result of a kind of test. For thousands of years, these experiments have been conducted in the haphazard concentration of life as opposed to sterile labs, what we might call spiritual technology – tools and processes that involve calming, moving, implying, or otherwise tweaking the mind and studying these technologies. Even if some part of the practice is removed from the spiritual context, psychologists are often able to influence the human mind in a measurable way.
For example, my lab has found that people are kind if they practice Buddhist meditation for a short time. After just eight weeks of studying with Buddhist lamas, 50 percent of those we set aside to meditate on a daily basis Self ane spontaneously helped a stranger in pain. Only 16 percent of those who did not meditate did so. (Actually, the stranger was an actor we hired to use a crutch and wear a removable leggings while trying to find a seat in a crowded room.) Empathy was not limited Stranger, Though; This also applies to enemies. Another Study Showed that after three weeks of meditation, most people, unlike many who did not meditate, refrained from taking revenge on those who had insulted them. Once my team observes these profound effects, we begin to look for other links between our previous research and existing religious rites.
Gratitude, for example, is something that we have studied closely and are a key element of many religious practices. Christians often say grace before meals; The Jews thank God Modeh Ani Pray every day while waking up. When we study the act of giving thanks, even in a secular context, we see that it makes people more virtuous. A Study Where people can get more money by lying about the consequences of flipping a coin, the majority (53 percent) have cheated. But those figures have dropped dramatically for those we first asked to count their blessings. Of these, only 27 percent chose to lie. We also find that when a person is grateful to God, to fate, or to God, he becomes human. More helpful, More generous, And if More patient.
Even very subtle actions – such as walking together – can have a significant effect on the mind. We see parallels in almost every religion in the world: Buddhists and Hindus often chant together in prayer; Christians and Muslims regularly kneel together while prostrating; Jews often swing, or Shackles, While praying together. These actions believe in a deeper purpose: to make connections. To see how this works, we asked a pair of strangers to sit across a table from each other, put on headphones, and then tap a sensor on the table each time they heard a voice. In some of these pairs, the order of the melodies matched, meaning they were tapping their hands together. For others, they were random, meaning hand movements would not be synchronized. Later, we created a situation where one member of each pair got stuck doing a long and difficult task. Those who were waving their hands together just didn’t feel it With more connection and sympathy Among their partners who were now working hard, 50 percent decided to give a hand to a partner – a bigger increase than 18 percent who decided to help without just syncing.
The combined effects of common elements like these – which change our perceptions, what we believe and who we can rely on – accumulate over time. And when they are bound to religious practice, studies have shown that they may have some sort of protective property. Regular Participate in religious practices Reduces anxiety and depression, increases physical health and even reduces the risk of early death. These benefits don’t just come from general social communication. There is something Specific for spiritual practice Themselves.