Religion and spirituality

Most psychology classes avoid the topics of religion and spirituality, but students generally like to discuss them. Research on the use of transcendental meditation indicated that meditation with a mantra induces a relaxation response (i.e., lower metabolic rate, slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, slower breathing). The researchers looked at the effects of short prayers from the Christian and Jewish traditions as well (e.g., “Hail Mary, full of grace,” “Shalom,” and “The Lord is my Shepherd”). These phrases also brought about the relaxation responses. When using longer prayers, the researchers found subjects reporting a “praying high.” People high in spirituality (i.e., the feeling that there is a higher being) score higher on psychological health and have fewer stress-related symptoms.

Discuss religion’s effect on your own experience of stress. Do you agree with the researchers? If you believe meditation reduces stress, you should discuss why this might be so. What other techniques do you find helpful in relieving stress?

Sample Solution