Laura Marie Edinger-Schons of the University of Mannheim, Germany, studied the idea that everything in the world is connected and interdependent, Newsweek reported.
“In my free time, I enjoy surfing, Capoeira, meditation and yoga, and all of these have been said to lead to experiences that can be described as being at one with life or nature or just experiencing a state of flow through being immersed in the activity,” Edinger-Schons said.
“I was wondering whether the larger belief in oneness is something that is independent of religious belief and how it affects satisfaction with life,” she added.
Published in the journal Psychology of Spirituality and Religion, the study consists of two parts. First, 7,137 Germans took part in a survey with questions concerning oneness-related issues such as empathy, social connectedness and nature.
Six weeks later, 3,068 of all participants took the same test to find out if their attitudes had changed.
The study´s second part addressed 67,562 respondents with different or no religious beliefs. From 48,111 participants, 15,799 people said they were Protestant, 13,648 atheists, 12,422 Catholic, 2,548 other non-Christian groups, 2,114 “other” Christian, 1,076 Muslim, 296 Buddhist, 120 Hindu and 88 Jewish.
From the study, Edinger-Schons concluded that people believing in oneness are more likely to be satisfied in their lives.
Gender, age and wealth are said to be determining factors. Women were more inclined to have a sense of oneness than men, the same as those with middle-to-high incomes compared to very rich or poor people. The belief also grows with age and reaches its peak between 80 and 89 years.
“Strengthening the more general belief in the oneness of everything has the potential to enhance peoples’ lives and might even be more effective than traditional religious beliefs and practices at improving life satisfaction,” Edinger-Schons said.
On average, the study revealed that Muslims had the highest mean value of oneness beliefs, followed by Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Catholics, Protestants, Jewish, other non-Christian and atheists.
Since all participants were German and the findings are not applicable to other nations, Edinger-Schons admitted a limitation in her study.
According to Goldsmiths psychology professor Joydeep Bhattacharya from the University of London, who was not involved in the research, a questionnaire on oneness beliefs had been available since 2014.
“I think the earlier scale offers a more comprehensive account of oneness beliefs by separating spiritual oneness from physical oneness,” he said.
Lecturer Jutta Tobias Mortlock at the University of London described the findings as applicable in a very useful way by creating interventions that target individuals’ and groups’ perception of oneness.
“In this way, we could assess to what extent it is possible to indirectly target increases in life satisfaction and thus ultimately higher levels of mental and perhaps even physical wellbeing, by helping individuals and communities feel more at, or as, one,” she said. Sense of oneness enhances life satisfaction, study says (sop/wng, The Jakarta Post)