Self-transcendent experiences as promoters of ecological wellbeing? Exploration of the evidence and hypotheses to be tested

Article


Isham, A., Elf, P. and Jackson, T. 2022. Self-transcendent experiences as promoters of ecological wellbeing? Exploration of the evidence and hypotheses to be tested. Frontiers in Psychology. 13. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1051478
TypeArticle
TitleSelf-transcendent experiences as promoters of ecological wellbeing? Exploration of the evidence and hypotheses to be tested
AuthorsIsham, A., Elf, P. and Jackson, T.
Abstract

In recent years, much has been written on the role of different mental states and their potential to influence our way of thinking and, perhaps more importantly, the way we act. With the recent acceleration of environmental and mental health issues, alongside the limited effectiveness of existing interventions, an exploration of new approaches to deliver transformative change is required. We therefore explore the emerging potential of a type of mental state known as self-transcendent experiences (STEs) as a driver of ecological wellbeing. We focus on four types of STEs: those facilitated by experiences of flow, awe, and mindfulness, as well as by psychedelic-induced experiences. Some of these experiences can occur naturally, through sometimes unexpected encounters with nature or during immersion in every-day activities that one intrinsically enjoys, as well as through more intentional practices such as meditation or the administration of psychedelics in controlled, legal settings. We explore the evidence base linking each of the four types of STE to ecological wellbeing before proposing potential hypotheses to be tested to understand why STEs can have such beneficial effects. We end by looking at the factors that might need to be considered if STEs are going to be practically implemented as a means of achieving ecological wellbeing.

Keywordsecological wellbeing; self-transcendent experiences; psychedelics; awe; mindfulness; flow
Sustainable Development Goals3 Good health and well-being
Middlesex University ThemeSustainability
Research GroupCentre for Enterprise, Environment and Development Research (CEEDR)
LanguageEnglish
PublisherFrontiers Media
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
ISSN
Electronic1664-1078
Publication dates
Online14 Nov 2022
Print14 Nov 2022
Publication process dates
Deposited16 Nov 2022
Accepted26 Oct 2022
Submitted22 Sep 2022
Output statusPublished
Publisher's version
Copyright Statement

Copyright © 2022 Isham, Elf and Jackson. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2022.1051478
Web of Science identifierWOS:000890884500001
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