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Mon, 16 Jul 2018
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Neurotheology: What happens to the brain during spiritual experiences?

spiritual experiences
© Athit Perawongmetha
A devotee in a state of trance is calmed by volunteers at a Buddhist temple in Nakhon Pathom Province, Thailand.
The field of neurotheology uses science to try to understand religion, and vice versa.

"Everyone philosophizes," writes neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Newberg in his latest book, The Metaphysical Mind: Probing the Biology of Philosophical Thought. We all speculate about the meaning of all kinds of things, from everyday concerns about dealing with a co-worker to our ultimate beliefs about the purpose of existence. Accompanying solutions we find to these problems, there's a range of satisfied feelings, from "ah-ha" or light-bulb moments upon solving an everyday problem to ecstatic feelings during mystical experiences.

Since everyday and spiritual concerns are variations of the same thinking processes, Newberg thinks it's essential to examine how people experience spirituality in order to fully understand how their brains work. Looking at the bigger questions has already provided practical applications for improving mental and physical health.

SOTT Logo Radio

The Health & Wellness Show: Dudes in Distress: The State of Men and Boys in the West

boys adrift
Lately, there has been lots of talk about the gender gap. For most people the gender gap refers to disparities in treatment between men and women with the focus solely being on female inequality. The truth is that male inequality has been thoroughly ignored and boys and men are losing out. Males are falling behind in various aspects of society including education, employment and health. They make up the majority of suicides, high school dropouts, the homeless and workplace fatalities all the while being excoriated in misandrist attacks for their 'toxic masculinity'. Is it any wonder that men, marked as disposable, are deciding to go their own way? And if the patriarchy reigns supreme, why are males in such dire straits?

Join us for this episode of The Health and Wellness Show where we'll discuss the state of men and boys in the West and the continuous whittling away of their status in society by radical feminists and the efforts to combat this trend. For contrast, we'll also take a look at some actual toxic males who give a bad name to all the good guys out there.

Running Time: 01:23:35

Download: OGG, MP3


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People 2

Several things you don't know about yourself

knowing yourself
Your "self" lies before you like an open book. Just peer inside and read: who you are, your likes and dislikes, your hopes and fears; they are all there, ready to be understood. This notion is popular but is probably completely false! Psychological research shows that we do not have privileged access to who we are. When we try to assess ourselves accurately, we are really poking around in a fog.

Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, who specializes in human self-perception and decision making, calls the mistaken belief in privileged access the "introspection illusion." The way we view ourselves is distorted, but we do not realize it. As a result, our self-image has surprisingly little to do with our actions. For example, we may be absolutely convinced that we are empathetic and generous but still walk right past a homeless person on a cold day.

The reason for this distorted view is quite simple, according to Pronin. Because we do not want to be stingy, arrogant, or self-righteous, we assume that we are not any of those things. As evidence, she points to our divergent views of ourselves and others. We have no trouble recognizing how prejudiced or unfair our office colleague acts toward another person. But we do not consider that we could behave in much the same way: Because we intend to be morally good, it never occurs to us that we, too, might be prejudiced.

Music

Music lessons can improve language skills

Alma Deutscher prodigy music child opera
© BBC documentary screenshot
Many studies have shown that musical training can enhance language skills. However, it was unknown whether music lessons improve general cognitive ability, leading to better language proficiency, or if the effect of music is more specific to language processing.

Previous research at McMaster University discovered that very early musical training benefits children even before they can walk or talk.

We now know through controlled treatment outcome studies that listening to and playing music is a potent treatment for mental health issues. 400 published scientific papers have proven the old adage that "music is medicine."

A new study from MIT has found that piano lessons have a very specific effect on kindergartners' ability to distinguish different pitches, which translates into an improvement in discriminating between spoken words. However, the piano lessons did not appear to confer any benefit for overall cognitive ability, as measured by IQ, attention span, and working memory.

"The children didn't differ in the more broad cognitive measures, but they did show some improvements in word discrimination, particularly for consonants. The piano group showed the best improvement there," says Robert Desimone, director of MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research and the senior author of the paper.

House

Study shows that people who live in rural areas are happier than those who live in big cities

mountain house
A recent study conducted on those who live rurally as opposed to those who live in big cities suggests that people residing in rural areas are in fact happier. The reason? It might surprise you, but it shouldn't.

The Canadian study was conducted by a team of researchers from the Vancouver School of Economics and McGill University. The goal of the study was to find out the happiness levels of 400,000 Canadians. Using the responses and by cross-referencing them with other survey data, they were able to identify which factors actually bring happiness to people. Rural people are happier than city dwellers.

Why? Because simply: their lives are more simple. According to Natural News, it wasn't even close either. Those who live more rurally are about eight times happier than their city-dwelling counterparts. This was measured using responses from the participants when they were asked to rate "how satisfied" they are with their lives. On a scale of one to 10, the average score ranged from 7.04 to 8.94.

Cross

More women looking to become 'consecrated virgins'

PaintingWomanBirds
© Ofra Amit illustradoresaragoneses.blogspot.com
There has been 'rapid' growth in interest in taking vows of lifelong celibacy, Catholic Church says

An increasing number Catholic women are taking life-long chastity vows in order to "dedicate themselves" to God, according to the Vatican. The Holy See has issued new guidance on consecrated virginity in response to growing interest across the world in the little-known spiritual "vocation".

Consecrated virgins are unmarried women who pledge to remain celibate for their entire lives, eschewing romantic or sexual relationships to devote themselves exclusively to being mystical "brides of Christ". Unlike nuns, they take on no role within the church. Instead of joining a religious order, they continue to live in their own homes and work in conventional jobs.

There are thought to be up to 5,000 consecrated virgins across the world, including an estimated 200 in the UK. While rare and little-known even within the church, the lifestyle is considered to be Christianity's oldest form of total devotion to God, with roots in ancient Rome.

During the Middle Ages, the practice all but disappeared following the emergence of communal forms of consecration, such as convents.

Comment: It seems to be 'a time of choices' for humanity to find ways of coping in a rapidly changing world.


Cowboy Hat

6 ways nice people master conflict

Mastering conflict
© Hans Neleman/Getty
When you're a nice person, conflict can be a real challenge. Not that mean people are any better at conflict; they just enjoy it more.

Research from Columbia University shows that how you handle conflict can make or break your career. The researchers measured something scientifically that many of us have seen firsthand - people who are too aggressive in conflict situations harm their performance by upsetting and alienating their peers, while people who are too passive at handling conflict hinder their ability to reach their goals.
double arrow
© unknown
The secret to effective handling of conflict is assertiveness - that delicate place where you get your needs met without bullying the other person into submission. Assertive people strike a careful balance between passivity and aggression (that is, they never lean too far in either direction).

How To Handle Conflict Assertively

It's easy to think that nice people are too passive. While that's often true, unchecked passivity can boil over into aggression. So there are plenty of very nice people out there who have exhibited both extremes of the assertiveness spectrum.

To be assertive, you need to learn to engage in healthy conflict. Healthy conflict directly and constructively addresses the issue at hand without ignoring or trivializing the needs of either party. The strategies that follow will get you there.

Consider the repercussions of silence. Sometimes it's hard to muster the motivation to speak up when the likelihood is high that things will turn ugly. The fastest way to motivate yourself to act is to fully consider the costs of not speaking up - they're typically far greater than not standing up for yourself. The trick is that you need to shift your attention away from the headache that will come with getting involved to all of the things you stand to gain from your assertiveness.

Target

What is psychological projection and how to discover if someone is using it on you

Finger point
© Exploring your mind
'It's not me, it's you.'
Narcissists are renowned for using psychological projection to blame other people, even when it is entirely apparent that they are the ones in the wrong.

Whichever way they can, they will project the blame, stating that the other person made them do it, was responsible for their own bad behaviour or simply did not do what they asked.

What is psychological projection?

It was psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud that first coined the term projection, describing it as a way in which an individual projects their own undesirable thoughts and beliefs onto someone else.

Examples of psychological projection:
  • Parents who have not achieved their goals in life demanding that their own children succeed.
  • Fearing your partner will cheat on you is often a reflection of how you view yourself.
  • Believing someone hates you could be signs of your hidden intense dislike for that person.
With regards to the narcissist, they too can have deep and repressed feelings, this is because their view of the world is so cut off from real life. It is often the case that a narcissist will blame their partner when their boundaries or rules are challenged. When this happens, a narcissist will suddenly experience a loss of control that threatens the very façade and world they have created.

Brain

Transgenderism: The "desistance myth" is the real myth

Dr. Ken Zucker
© Jim Ross
Dr. Ken Zucker’s approach made him a polarizing figure in an emotional debate about how to best treat children and teenagers not so easily pushed back into one box or the other.
Gender dysphoric children who are treated using a "watchful waiting" approach largely desist, no longer identify as transgender as adults, and accept their bodies as they are. Those who are subjected to medical intervention do not.

Last month a new chapter was opened in the debate on childhood desistance with the publication of a new article in the International Journal of Transgenderism by a group of transgender-affirming activists and clinicians headed by Julia Temple Newhook. Desistance is when children who are diagnosed as gender dysphoric by medical practitioners go on to accept their bodies and do not end up identifying as transgender once they have passed through puberty. The article questions the exceedingly high rates of desistance reported by previous studies.

Comment: Dr. Zucker has laid his finger on the key to the militancy of the transgender community, the kids' health be damned.
"[I]f the child desists and is allowed to accept his or her sexed body, this poses a threat to the trans narrative"



People

Anticipating a stressful day can harm your memory

chronisches erschöpfungssyndrom, stress, ausgelaugt, müde
© fotolia / leszekglasner
There may be some truth to the saying "getting up on the wrong side of the bed," according to Penn State researchers who say starting your morning by focusing on how stressful your day will be may be harmful to your mindset throughout the day.

It's been clear for some time that psychological stress is linked to high blood pressure, or hypertension.

The researchers found that when participants woke up feeling like the day ahead would be stressful, their working memory -- which helps people learn and retain information even when they're distracted -- was lower later in the day. Anticipating something stressful had a great effect on working memory regardless of actual stressful events.

Jinshil Hyun, a doctoral student in human development and family studies, said the findings suggest that the stress process begins long before a stressful event occurs.