Stress Reduction and Sacred Moments
"The great lesson from the true mystics, from the Zen Monks, and now also from the Humanistic and Transpersonal psychologists ? that the sacred is in the ordinary, that it is to be found in one's daily life, in one's neighbors, friends, and family, in one's back yard, and that travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred ? this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous." - Abraham Maslow
An electronic search of Psychological Abstracts in psychology's last 100 years reveals a 14 to 1 ratio of psychological articles about negative emotions versus positive emotions. The imbalance in research of negative versus positive makes it ever more important to ask the question, what does it mean to live the good life? Religious scholars to philosophers to modern day psychologists have pondered the perennial question of what it means to live well. In the past few decades there has been a considerable surge in interest and research on the phenomena of well-being. Distilled through the years, subjective well-being (SWB)and psychological well-being (PWB)have emerged as the most prominent concepts in mainstream research. SWB focuses more on positive/negative affect and life satisfaction while PWB is concerned with meaning, purpose, and existential issues. Through empirically validated studies, research in each field has created operationalized, well validated constructs of well-being (Diener, 1984; Lucas, Diener, & Suh, 1996; Ryff, 1989; Ryff & Keyes, 1995).
Empirical research suggests that, in considering an approach to pursuing a lifestyle conducive to good overall health and well-being, an important factor is cultivating a sense of sacredness in one's life. Recent studies show a high positive correlation between cognitive and affective aspects of the sacred and well-being. Some studies suggest that connecting with the transcendent and experiencing a transcendent sense of self foster well-being. Other studies find that well-being is positively correlated with a sense of support from the transcendent in areas such as marriage, parenting,healthy family relationships, and sustaining physical health. Emmons and McCullough (2003) applied a new intervention that focuses on fostering gratitude and linked it to life satisfaction and a sense of purpose in life. Furthermore, cognitive and affective components associated with the sacred have positive correlations among themselves, implying that when experiencing one aspect, others may be felt at the same time. These studies underscore the concept that there is a significant positive connection between what are considered sacred components of life and well-being and a negative connection to stress. It can therefore be argued that an intervention cultivating these sacred components may increase well-being and reduce stress.
Sacred Qualities and Sacred Moments
A large body of theory has described a broad spectrum of experiences that may or may not be considered a sacred moment. The key aspect of a sacred moment, as defined and described in this study, is that it is a moment in time that is imbued with sacred qualities. For the purposes of this study, sacred qualities are defined as having two components: (a) they inherently possess spiritual qualities as defined by Lynn Underwood and the World Health Organization, such as gratefulness, feeling of connection with and support from the transcendent, sweet-sadness, awe, compassion, and/or a deep sense of inner peace, and (b) they are imbued with qualities such as precious, dear, blessed, cherished, and/or holy. Consequently, for the purposes of this study, sacred moments are defined as day-to-day personal moments that are imbued with sacred qualities, which seem like time-outs from daily busy-ness, where a sense of stillness arises or occurs and where concerns of the every day just seem to evaporate. In other words, in order to experience a sacred moment, the moment needs to be imbued by the individual with these sacred qualities. Although extraordinary mystical experiences could also be considered sacred moments, the focus of this research is on those more ordinary day-to-day experiences.
After defining these moments, it seems important to find a way to cultivate them. A core aspect in cultivating these moments is being able to attend to the present moment. Different methods have been developed over the last decade to help the individual control attention, including; hypnosis, biofeedback, and gestalt therapy. Currently, the most applicable and prolific field of study attending to the present moment is mindfulness. Mindfulness has been defined as a method of focusing attention on the present as it occurs. Learning how to train the mind and body to be in the present moment is critical to being aware of what is sacred in the moment.
Studying the effects of sacred moments on people's lives could serve to add understanding and knowledge for practical ways to increase well-being while providing a possible therapeutic alternative to treating stress. A serious need exists for programs that promote well-being in both psychologically healthy and unhealthy individuals. It is important to understand whether aspects of sacred moments can be cultivated as a therapeutic intervention and consequently whether their cultivation can contribute to a reduction in rising medical costs associated with stress. Current research is quick to point out that rising amount of stress in western society is due to the increasing complexity of responsibilities and events (i.e., 9/11). Stress is a precursor to anxiety, and approximately 19 million Americans are afflicted with some type of anxiety disorder today.
Furthermore, disorders such as anxiety critically impact quality of life and well-being. Although current research is working towards discovering factors that influence well-being, there is still a pattern of sidestepping the qualities of sacred moments in reference to mental health and well-being. With the field's persistent emphasis on techniques toward mental health that do not explicitly involve the sacred and the transcendent, it seems critical to continue to tap this area for its value to psychology.
Psychology is becoming more interested in those moments that transcend and include the ego, are non-ordinary, and are personal. Arthur Hastings, a leading Transpersonal Psychologist points out:
"These experiences are usually defined as going beyond the ordinary sense of identity or personality to encompass wider dimensions of the psyche and the cosmos. This can include experiences of intense love, enhanced perception, a sense of merging into a more comprehensive identity, spiritual and religious experiences, psychic awareness. . . . Other definitions suggest that transpersonal means optimal health and well-being, holistic development of the self and the psychology of transformation."
Both sacred moments and well-being are suggested in Hasting's description of transpersonal psychology. A study of sacred moments could aspire to bring transpersonal psychology out into the mainstream of psychology and bring mainstream thought into the transpersonal realm.
1. What effects does the cultivation of sacred moments have on subjective well-being, psychological well-being, and stress.
2. What are the people's experiences of having sacred moments? What helps the cultivation of these moments and what hinders the cultivation of these moments in daily life?The recent surge of interest in well-being has brought a serious need for interventive strategies.
*** There is currently a study that is about to begin that explores the affects on sacred moments on daily life.
IF you are interested in learning how to potentially cultivate more of these moments in your life, please check out http://sacredmomentstudy.blogspot.com
Elisha Goldstein holds an M.A. in Psychology and is a 4th year doctoral student at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto. He is currently exploring how the cultivation of sacred moments in daily life affects well-being and stress. If you would consider participating in this invaluable study, please go to http://sacredmomentstudy.blogspot.comYou can also check out http://mindfulmoments.blogspot.com
Stress Management and Creating Balance
The World Health Organization calls stress "the health epidemic of the 21st century." Stress resulting in illness is the causative factor underlying more than 70% of all visits to the family doctor, medical doctors suggest. What is stress? We all talk about it but what does 'stress' mean and how does it affect our bodies?
I?m Gettin? Really Torqued!
For those of you who have been living in a cave for most of your lives, you can translate the "torqued" in the heading of this article to "mad" or "angry". For today's discussion of anger, let's quantify the intensity of our focus with the words "downright, PO'd!" I think that's quite clear. Let's proceed.
Stressed? Relax Right Now with 5 Super-Simple Stress-Busters
Stressed? Relax Right Now with 5 Super-Simple Stress-Busters
Anger Management: Is It Finally Time To Forgive?
In order to free ourselves from the pain of anger and resentment we need to be able to forgive our self and others. The longer we dwell on hurtful situations from the past, the longer we keep our self from living fully in the present. Forgiveness is an act of kindness. An act of kindness to your self, as it leads to a sense of personal freedom.
10 Tips To Reduce Stress
1. Determine your "unique ability" and capitalize on it
Stress Management: An Owners Manual for Your Brain
Here's an amazing quote from Time magazine:
Stress Management: How to Avoid the Ruts and Holes of Life
Have you ever noticed how we keep falling into the same holes and ruts in life? We know something doesn't work and yet we keep doing the same things over and over again.
Stress Managment and Mastery: Break the Rules!
Of all the sources of stress in our lives, faulty emotional rules are one of the most debilitating. These faulty emotional rules are typically ingrained during childhood and become a part of how we live. Because they are largely unquestioned, we rarely stop and consider how they might be influencing our lives. If unchecked, these rules can even run our lives.
Myth Busting: What Causes Mental Breakdown?
I came out of a nightmare 5-year period of anxiety and depression and I did it without taking any drugs. What frustrated me is that despite advances in understanding as to why people become stressed, depressed and anxious, sufferers are still told numerous myths about what causes their illness.
Chastise Your Bread ? Kneading Dough is Excellent Stress Therapy
The day wasn't going well already. You know how it is, you wake up in the morning with that migraine or the pounding headache in the back of your head. The kids are up at the crack of dawn (literally) and they keep coming into the bedroom to "help you" wake up. You fumble your way down stairs to a screaming chorus of, "Daddy, she won't quit looking at me!" And then you have the old reliable "Hey! That's my stuff!" And what are those comments without Back-up Plan 'B': "Hey! That's my spot!" was bellowed out as the kids fought over the fluffy pillow in my office while watching Little House on the Prairie.
Stress- What Is It?
Whenever we think of 'stress', negative thoughts come into our minds. Most of us believe that stress is similar to worries, tensions, failures, sadness, pressures, and what not. Basically negative things. Dictionary meanings of stress are mental pressure, physical pressure, illness or an extra force on a word or syllable. These meanings also signify the negative attributes of stress whether directly or indirectly.
Deep Breathing ? How It Can Simultaneously Improve Health And Bring You Closer To Your Goals
I hope by reading this article you will see the value in being aware of your breath and also how it can have the potential to not only improve your internal health but also give you an instantly accessible tool to help you focus on those goals and ambitions you have been putting off. Be sure to try the simple exercise below also to get you started on developing your awareness of how (and where) you breathe.
Alleviate Stress Without Pills!
We all have it; we live with it daily: stress. As America's #1 health problem, surveys, reports and studies have been done concerning this epidemic. Meditation, massages and reading are some of the many ways for you to alleviate stress levels. Doctors hand out pills; insurance rates go up; you pay to learn meditation, to talk to a therapist or for a massage therapist to give you a massage. Day after day, week after week . . . this is a never-ending cycle. The fact is you need to, and can, control your stress simply and cost effectively.
I have yet to see a scientist talk about the impact of time viewing in any article. It will ensure the continuing exponential growth in knowledge. I think it is quite possible that this has been part of what has unleashed Pandora's Box already and it is a far better explanation for many things that the UFOlogists are talking about. There have been a number of recent Popes who say that aliens will come to teach us in this century and there is a scientist/priest who supposedly developed a chronovisor. The combination of already developing technology in Holography, nanotechnology, and quantum teleporting may make it possible to travel to various potential futures with intelligent machines that include the human brain contents which were dumped onto a computer by Stanford in 1999. The lack of dialogue in the media about these things is very troubling to me as people continue to accept our leaders know what they are doing.
Rising to the Top: Overcoming Bad Situations
We've all been there, right? We find ourselves living with the weight of our circumstances growing heavier by the day. We agonize over the "what if" questions and wonder just how we'll ever get out from under the burdens we bear. Our thoughts rattle around like that little metal ball in a pinball machine. Growing more and more frustrated, we begin thinking thoughts we never thought we'd think.
How To Stop Computers Stressing You Out
Of all the forms of stress in today's world, computer stress is the one that is on the rise the fastest. Computers are wonderful machines, but they can also stress out workers by their sometimes confusing demands, their constant presence and their simple inability to work properly. Thus, computer stress must be understood and it must find an outlet or computer users will find themselves even more stressed out than they already are.
Dealing With Frustration
If you're like most people, you have your bouts of frustration, for sure. Not everyone handles these episodes in the same manner, as you most likely already know. One of the biggest problems is that some people don't seem to get a grip on the fact that they do have a choice as to how to react to people, situations, and events.
The Art of Worrying
I am worried. I have been biting my nails for weeks and now there is not much left (skin doesn't taste very good) on my hands and feet to chew on. I have been bent over the sink retching, I am constantly nauseated with pounding headaches beating out a death march in my skull and yet, life goes on. To say I am worried is placing the situation into a category far above its position ? I am sick with worry. I am worried to death and I am sick of being worried about nothing. I am even tired of being worried about being worried about nothing - and I worry about that as well!
Is it a Crime to be a White Guy in A Tan Car?
I had the unpleasant experience of being pulled over the other day by a Southaven Policeman. I was already behind schedule and I needed to get cat food and pick up my daughter at work and time was not on my side. So being stopped by the police wasn't exactly what I needed.
Self Indulgence: It Isn?t Just About Chocolate
It's no secret that we women, by virtue of our genetic make-up I suppose, seem to feel it is necessary to be superwomen-simultaneously balancing the demands of managing a home, caring for children and aging parents, and usually working in a demanding profession. This syndrome, which was first labeled in the 1980s, continues 20-some years later despite zillions of articles and talk shows discussing it.
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