Past Life Meditation Decreases Existential Death Anxiety and Increases Meaning in Life among Individuals Who Believe in the Paranormal

Claire White, Miguel Farias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Despite their growing popularity, little is known about the psychological effects of participating in past-life meditation groups in contemporary western contexts. We conducted a study to re-create some of the conditions observed in the field by facilitating a group of adults interested in exploring past life meditation. Before the session, participants completed a survey about their afterlife beliefs and associated experiences. Participants also completed questionnaires measuring meaningfulness in life and fear of death before and after the session. In the sample (n = 125), just over half of the participants (52%) reported having a past life memory or vision during the session. Higher paranormal beliefs predicted reporting a past life memory or vision. We also found that having prior memories or visions of having lived before, but not the general belief in having a past life, predicted reporting having past life experiences during the session. Consistent with our predictions, participants who reported having a past life memory or vision also reported reduced existential death distress and increased meaningfulness in life following the session, compared to those who did not report these experiences.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)338-356
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Cognition and Culture
Volume23
Issue number3-4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Aug 2023

Keywords

  • new age practices and beliefs
  • past life meditation
  • paranormal belief;
  • fear of death;
  • meaningfulness in life

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