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What influences our experiences?

Comment: For many people, spiritual health is important to mental health. In my role as a psychologist clients will sometimes indicate they have had contact with aliens/ghosts/spirits and or other outer worldly experiences. In these situations, it is important to differentiate between those who may be having a psychotic episode, and those having an experience that they are attempting to explain or resolve to the best of their ability. A person’s background and culture has always been an important element in how people experience the world, the study mentioned in the article looks at the concept of how culture impacts upon the mind in terms of what the authors term porous and absorbed.

IT’S NOTORIOUSLY CHALLENGING to apply science to spirituality — to quantify the mysterious or explain the supernatural. Why do some people report being possessed by demons or recall being visited by angels? Why do others have no interest in matters of the divine? In a study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers find psychological clues that influence this divide. According to interviews and surveys of over 2,000 people across the United States, Ghana, Thailand, China, and Vanuatu, two pivotal factors shape people’s perceived experience with a spiritual presence: porosity and absorption.

Porosity refers to the degree to which people view their internal mind and the outside world as permeable, while absorption references how much individuals tend to “lose themselves” in sensory experiences. These factors can predict whether a person is likely to report vivid experiences with gods or spirit

“What we experience is shaped by how we pay attention,” study co-author Tanya Luhrmann tells Inverse. Luhrmann is a medical and psychological anthropologist at Stanford University.

“Our pattern of paying attention really does affect what comes to feel real.” …..

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