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Softas-Nall, Basilia

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The purpose of this study was to explore life changes in beliefs, philosophy, and behavior in individuals who reported having a unitive/mystical experience (U/ME). A U/ME is a generally spontaneously occurring state of consciousness characterized by a sense of unity or "oneness" that transcends sensory or cognitive apprehension (Stace, 1960). There is often an ineffable certainty that an ultimate truth has been perceived and can be applied to one's life. The experience may be accompanied or followed by feelings of joy and bliss. One hundred sixty adults from a broad range of demographic characteristics participated in a one-time webbased survey. The concept of a unitive/mystical experience was based on the mysticism theory of Stace (1960). Hood's Scale - Research Form D (1975; 2005) was used to assess the intensity and degree of reported U/MEs since it is an operationalization of Stace's theory. Life changes were assessed using Greyson's Life Changes Inventory - Revised (2004). Participants also answered ten demographic questions. Four research questions were addressed using correlational methodology. These questions explored the type of changes reported after a unitive/mystical experience, the relationship of the intensity of the U/ME to the changes, perceptions of the overall quality of respondents' lives after the U/ME, and the relationship of the changes to selected demographic variables. Results of the study indicated that there were significant increases in participants' concern with social and planetary values, self-acceptance, spirituality, quest for meaning and sense of purpose, concern for others, and appreciation for life. Respondents reported a significant decrease in concern with worldly achievement. The area of religiousness showed no change.Results also indicated that a more intense unitive/mystical experience was associated with a greater degree of change overall, and with a significant increase in appreciation for life specifically. Participants indicated that their overall quality of life had changed significantly after their U/MEs in a direction perceived as beneficial. There was no significant relationship between reported changes and demographic variables. Limitations of the study, suggestions for future research, and implications of the findings were discussed.

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Hood's Scale; Mysticism; Mystical Experiences; Spirituality; Psychology; Greyson's Life Changes Inventory


182 pages

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