Connecting Religion To Psychology And Therapy

A study was conducted recently that showed eight out of 10 clinical social workers believed that an open discussion about religion and spirituality with patients had a positive effect on ongoing therapy. A few of these social workers though ventured into using religion as a means of therapy.

Image Source:

It has been found that talking to a patient about his religious beliefs can benefit him psychologically and to a degree, stabilize and relax his mind. This comes as a surprise to many psychotherapists because throughout history, religion and psychology (and science in general) have had clashing concepts on what heals a person.

It may be a good idea now for patients in therapy to look for therapists who share the same beliefs they do. Another way to go at it is to find secular therapists who are still comfortable talking to people about religion.

While there is still no solid rule that ties everything up between psychotherapy and religion, many forms of incorporating religion in therapy are being researched and developed. It has also been found that it would be good to start the mixed process talking about religion at its most basic and go from there.

Many psychologists are quick to point out that perhaps it is the profound significance of religion to a person that has a psychosomatic effect, increasing brain and cardiovascular activity, thus aiding in overall therapy.

Image Source:

I’mDavid Turlington. I have always been fascinated by the cultural concept of religion and other belief systems that is why I became a theology major. For more about me and the wonderful study of religion, check out this page.


What ‘Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance’ Can Teach Us About Spirituality

Image source:

With the recent passing of Robert Pirsig, author of the acclaimed book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” the world was reminded that the book sits alongside the best literature on travel writing, spirituality, and metaphysics. Now is a good time to revisit what this book generously offered in understanding concepts of Zen.

The book was the first of its kind when it came out, on the surface fostering the romanticized, carefree concerns of beat literature that the likes of Kerouac and Ginsberg likewise espoused. But it was more than just a travel book; outside the main plot involving the journey of the father and his son across America on a bike, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” delved into rich and prolonged discussions on Zen Buddhist perspectives.

Image source:

At the heart of the storyline is a meditation on what Pirsig called “the metaphysics of quality.” The book gently inquires on values, pontificates on how science and art can reconcile if quality becomes the centerpiece of things. “Good is a noun,” the book insists, as it manifested attentiveness to both the mechanical and the spiritual in this world.

The author makes his main character work on his bike, deal with his son and co-travelers, and discuss philosophical concerns throughout the book— guided by the age-old adage that the journey is more important than the arrival.

Hello, the name’sDavid Turlington. I am a college student, majoring in theology. Religion is such a fascinating subject, especially when trying to understand the different cultural definitions of God and spirituality. For more of my writings on spirituality and belief systems, check out this blog.

Exploring theology and faith through podcasts

A relatively new method of learning about religion is listening to podcasts, and it’s easy to see their merits. Not only can they reach the faithful but they can also give those still searching an insider’s look at different faiths. And as a student of theology, I’ve found a few podcasts to be a cut above the rest in introducing people to different beliefs.
Image source:

“Research on Religion” by Tony Gill is not really about theological issues per se, but it does explore how religion (religious institutions and the like) affects and operates in the world.

The multi-faith “Interfaith Voices” hosted by Maureen Fiedler was created as a response to 9/11, and it exists as an avenue for fostering respectful and educational dialogues across different beliefs and religions.

Though not specifically about religion, the popular podcast “Smartest Person in the Room” recently had a very engaging 7-episode series on religion. Titles included “Judaism as a Cultural Identity” and “When God Goes Silent,” the latter being about one man’s shift from Christianity to atheism and back again.

Listeners looking for a deep dive into particular faiths will find that there’s a wealth of options available. For instance, Christian artists’ collective “The Liturgists” hosts a podcast featuring music, meditation, and storytelling while Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ “On the Other Hand” gives brief yet applicable-to-modern-living commentaries on Reform Judaism. There’s “Secular Buddhism with Noah Rasheta” for learning about Buddhist philosophies through a more pragmatic lens, or for a more traditional and spiritual take, there’s “Buddhism Guide” hosted by Karma Yeshe Rabgye. Those who want to hear about what it’s like to be an American Muslim woman will want to subscribe to “#GoodMuslimBadMuslim.”

Fortunately for those curious about theology and faith, there seem to be podcasts for a wide gamut of beliefs from Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Baha’i, to even agnosticism, making the study (or practice) of religion easily available to anyone!

Image source:

Hello! I’m David Turlington, a theology major, and I tend to write a lot about different religious beliefs and philosophies. If these topics also interest you, follow me on Twitter for more updates on what I’ve been learning!

Achieving Nirvana Through Ascension Meditation

In the same way Christians desire to reach heaven, Buddhists aspire to achieve nirvana. This is the ultimate goal of all Buddhists, which is defined as the peaceful state of mind that is free from any desire or craving. Take note that the fundamental concept of Buddhism is letting go of any form of attachment. Buddhism acknowledges that there are pain and suffering in the world, but people are not required to feel this suffering. The pain, their canon states, is based on selfish desires and unrealistic expectations of how life should be. Nirvana, then, is the path to enlightenment defined by the cessation of suffering.

Image Source:

There are many ways to achieve this. The most recommended path is to understand one’s relationship with the natural world and accepting the consequences of being a conscious mortal being. Buddhists believe that understanding the cognitive aspect of decision-making will help further the path to nirvana. By shifting one’s patterns of thought and behavior, a Buddhist can train their mind not to be controlled by a desire for fulfillment. Traditionally, nirvana is achieved through wisdom, mental discipline, and ethical conduct.

The fastest way to achieve this is through ascension meditation. This is basic meditation with an added element of wanting to achieve nirvana. This initially sounds strange, but the intent is a major part of any meditation. Remember that meditation can be performed for a variety of reasons. Some people use the practice to relax, others to transcend. Each person’s experience with meditation differs based on their own mental will power and what it is they want to achieve. With ascension meditation, the believer spends hours purifying their minds to attain a spiritual insight into the true nature of things. Often, believers are asked to somewhat “detach” themselves from their bodies to gain a critical observance of reality, and not just how it appears to be. These deep reflections should be practiced daily and regularly.

Image Source:

It can take several years to achieve nirvana, if at all. Buddhists though realize that the journey towards enlightenment is just as important as the goal itself.

David Turlington is a theology major who is interested in learning about different religions. Follow him on Twitter for more on his interests.

The Modern Cult: An Analysis Of a Rogue Organization

When you hear the word “cult,” chances are the image that comes to mind is an eccentric religious organization of some kind. To a certain degree, this can be excused. The word cult had historically been applied to civic and religious movements and is still used in that sense.

Image source:

The cult you are probably thinking of is an organization that recruits members through influence and deception for power or financial gain. Although many cults are corrupt religious organizations, they can also be dubious self-help groups, pyramid schemes and rogue multilevel marketing organizations, or extremist political factions.

Although they often utilize many of the indoctrination tactics used by more legitimate organizations, albeit more intensely, five elements must be all be present to make cults stand out as dangerous. The presence of all five sets them apart from monastic orders, army boot camps, and the like.

-They must sever ties with family, friends, and other organizations, which leads to dependence on the cult.
-They must demand unquestioning loyalty to the rules laid out by the organization, no matter how arbitrary or pointless.
-They must demand long, grueling hours of tedious work.
-They must somehow make money from the members. Anyone familiar with scams knows how this goes.
-They must make leaving the group difficult or unattractive.

Another pervasive myth of destructive cult organizations is that “you have to be a gullible wacko to be in them.” Many cult members are neurotypical and come from average families, with only a small percentage of them having any kind of mental illness, which can be a liability for the cult as it expands. And despite personal differences, peer pressure almost guarantees that the cult’s members would act the same way.

Image source:

Cults can be quite easy for many confused, lonely, or emotionally distressed individuals to enter, but simultaneous be very difficult to leave. Learning the red flags of a potentially exploitative organization, whether it be a church group, company, or political movement, goes a long way in avoiding being sucked into a cult.

I’m David Turlington. For more on my trains of thought on life, sports, and comparative religion, follow me on Twitter.

The Origins Of Judaism

Image source:

Judaism is a monotheistic religion that is always attached to the history of the Jewish people. The Jewish religion—its history and people—stems from three patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Israel).

Abraham, the founder of the Hebrew people, was asked by God to migrate to Canaan, a region in between modern Israel and Lebanon, which was a place where the East and West met. From Canaan, the first Israelites (named after patriarch Jacob who was eventually named Israel) migrated to Egypt where they served as workers or slaves.

Image source:

A few generations later, God called his people to flee from their life of slavery in Egypt to move to their promised land of Canaan under the leadership of Moses. The Exodus (or the big move of the Israelites from Egypt to Canaan) lasted for 40 years. During the Exodus, God gave his word to Moses and the Israelites through the writing of the Ten Commandments.

The Jewish people were under the guidance of wise kings including Saul, David, and Solomon. They were guided by sacred texts Torah (the Pentateuch or the first five books), Nevi’im, and Ketuvim (books of history, prophecy, and poetry). Even with the absence of a physical temple, the center of Jewish spirituality lies in Jerusalem.

Hi, I’m David Turlington, a blogger and theology student from Maine. Learn more about the world’s religions when you follow me on Twitter.

Ways Writing Can Relieve Stress And Other Negative Emotions

There are days when you just have a lot of things in mind that trouble you. While a good massage or eating a good meal can help, writing can also offer relief. Need release? Here’s why writing can alleviate stress.

Image source:

Writing helps people define a purpose

Have a lot of things to do, but don’t know where to start? Writing (most especially, journaling), can help people list the things they have to do. By having a to-do list in a form of a bullet or a paragraph, you can get the work done by knowing your purpose.

Writing helps a person to recharge

Many people drain themselves from too much connectivity (e.g. social networking, gadget usage), especially with the negative posts and news that can be easily accessed over the internet. While surfing the web can be relaxing at times, having a quiet time with a pen and paper can help people relax and unwind.

Writing can help clear one’s mind

According to various studies, writing can be an effective way to clear the mind of negative thoughts. Even if researchers say it’s a temporary thing, at least, it keeps one’s mind off the things that are distracting them at a given moment.

Image source:

Writing can help change one’s life

Writing, particularly journal writing, can help people find lessons about their lives. It can serve as a reminder for some. Writing also works as a way for people to have a different perspective on their daily experiences.

Interested about writing and theology? Follow me, David Turlington, on Twitter.