Empirical Explanation for the "Spirit"?

One thing I struggled with in leaving the church was my feeling that the "spirit" I felt in the church was REAL. It did make me feel happy, at peace, like doing good, etc. I came across this article and it suggests that we have a real physical reaction when we read stories about people doing good, etc. (like reading the scriptures, listening to testimonies). Anyway, thought others might find it interesting, as well.http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Doing-Good-Deeds-Natural-Highs-How-to-S...

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Comment by wherecaniturn on June 7, 2011 at 10:21pm
I want to add a bit more. This is significant to me because previously I've only seen mentioned that the problem with Mormonism is that it touts emotionality as spirituality. I didn't feel that was entirely the case with me. I wasn't a really emotional person, but I did feel strong "spiritual feelings" when involved with church things, such as meetings, reading scriptures, singing hymns, etc. When I became intellectually convinced that the church was based not based on true events, it was a struggle for me because I wondered why I had had real feelings if the church was in fact not based on truth. This article explains that when we are exposed to stories of others doing highly moral things, we have a physical response in our heart, we feel motivated to do good, we feel happy, etc. To me, this is exactly what my church experiences were. I was being exposed to moral beauty (in the people I was around (for the most part), the scriptures I was reading, the songs I was singing, the values that were being taught), and so I was continually feeling elevated. Not only does this help me better understand my spiritual experiences in the church, but it also gives me guidance as to how to once again have those spiritual experiences in my life without the church (which I deeply miss, btw).
Comment by Queen Lamoni on June 8, 2011 at 2:27pm
Thank you so much for posting this. It helps to explain the conflict I have been feeling with totally separating from the church. I've been exposed to some individuals who try to be like Christ and have continued to reach out to my family and me in a loving way. Just last night this happened, and I was left wondering if I could be in the congregation with out all the negative downsides. When I contemplate going to another church or religion I see just as many negatives to them as LDS, so I'm left with this internal argument about staying with the monster you know. I do miss some of the positives like feeling a part of a community, the feelings you get as the whole congregation sings, and the sense of safety that I felt during stressful times. I am just not sure that I can keep the emotional boundaries that I would need to keep my sanity in order to reap the possible benefits.
Comment by wherecaniturn on June 8, 2011 at 10:50pm
I have felt the same way. I have considered going back for the benefits, but whenever I have gone, all the lies just jump out at me and I can't take it. I thought I might be able to just ignore anything that had to do with Joseph Smith, but all his teachings are intricately woven into every aspect of the church.I agree about all other churches also having their problems. The one thing I can't find anywhere is the intellectual appeal of Mormonism. I like to use my mind in church, and it seems most churches are geared to a pretty uneducated following. I have found the most spiritual fulfillment in modern approaches to spirituality, but none of them come with a local community.
Comment by Queen Lamoni on June 9, 2011 at 2:31pm

I totally agree with you about the need to use mind in church, guess that's what ultimately got me in trouble!

This is going to sound funny or maybe not, I've been trying to find anyone's  comments about how they are dealing with the whole break down of society ideas or fears. Lately, we've been really struggling financially and had to break into our food storage and thus it's caused me to do a lot of research on homesteading, making your household items, home distillation, etc. Well, I sometimes worry about 'burning the mormon-bridge' and finding myself in a survival situation. I know it sounds a tad paranoid too some, but having studied enough history, economics, and politics I know that it really isn't that paranoid. All I have to do is start thinking about the derivatives market and I feel the need for a glass of wine coming on!!!

Comment by Brandags on June 17, 2011 at 11:17pm

This was my biggest issue as well. In addition to the normal peaceful feelings, and burning in the bosom during the sacrament, I had some very powerful "spiritual" experiences that included tingling all over my body and very joyful feelings. Even after I left the church, I wasn't sure how to explain these. It wasn't until last month that I discovered how to replicate those feelings at will! Here's how:

Breath in deeply, like you're smelling a rose. Then breathe out like you're blowing out a candle. Do this for 5-10 minutes, and you'll start to feel tinglings in your hands and feet, arms, mouth, etc. It's the exact same sensation I felt during my most spiritual experiences, and it's made me wonder how I was breathing when I was feeling that way. Was I breathing abnormally, and was this the cause of me feeling the "spirit"?

Interestingly, when we sing, we do just the opposite - breath in quickly, breathe out slowly. I think breathing and the amount of oxygen we feel has a huge effect on our emotions.


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