• Spiritual Flow: The Influence of Religious Experience on Psychological Well-being

      Monson, Christian H. (2013-01-31)
      Researchers in the psychology of religion have attempted to better explain the relationship of religion/spiritual practice and psychological benefits, including the concept of well-being. The use of optimal experiences, or flow theory, has not yet been used in this endeavor. Flow is described as experiences which include meaningful enjoyment, focus, and intrinsic rewards and motivation. Since reports of transcendent, spiritual experiences appear similar to experiences of flow, it is likely that these experiences may overlap in structure. Also, since both religious and flow experiences have been associated with psychological well-being, it is likely that a spiritual flow experience may explain, in part, the mediating factors of the relationship between religion and mental health. This study used a cross-sectional, correlational design to examine if a spiritual flow experience predicts higher reports of psychological well-being in a religious adult population. One-Hundred and seventy five religiously active adults completed an online survey which included measures of mysticism, religious orientation, flow, psychological well-being, and spiritual well-being. The goal of the study was to assess the existence and structure of spiritual flow and its potential impact on well-being across a variety of domains. There was evidence that spiritual flow experiences do exist, though there were structural differences between spiritual and general flow. Though intrinsic religious motivation did not have an major effect on well-being, spiritual flow was a major predictor of well-being. A qualitative review of which activities tend to lead to spiritual flow is also discussed.