Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Spiritual Experiences of Long-Term Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Meditators with History of Cancer: An Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis
by Agarwal, Kanishtha, Ph.D., Saybrook University, 2018, 163; 10839182
Abstract (Summary)

Recent advancement in cancer management has led to improved survival rates resulting in an increase in the number of cancer survivors. Several studies have shown the crucial role of spirituality in coping with the disease process in this vulnerable population. The purpose of this research project was to deepen the understanding about the spiritual experiences of cancer survivors in long-term Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Meditation (BK-RYM) practitioners. This study asked, “What is the lived spiritual experience of cancer survivorship in long term Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga meditation practitioners?” Research studies are lacking in cancer survivors with history of long-term meditation practice prior to cancer diagnosis.

A qualitative inquiry with interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) approach was chosen to gain a deeper understanding of the role of meditation in the life of cancer survivors. A total of six participants with history of cancer diagnosis were recruited from BK-RYM centers across the North America, South America and Australia. All the participants were interviewed in an in-depth, and open-ended manner. The interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analyzed using Smith and Osborn’s (2008) approach to IPA.

Seven super-ordinate themes with 28 themes as well as three outlier themes arose after thorough analysis. Super-ordinate themes included (a) mental stability and clarity, (b) spiritual connection and self-empowerment, (c) personal relationships with God, (d) healing practices, (e) empowering support system, (f) positive health outcomes, and (g) post-cancer spiritual growth. The three outlier sub-themes were grouped under the theme of “transient mental changes” and comprised of (a) shock as the initial reaction; (b) mind as a battlefield; (c) matter over mind. New themes identified were daily spiritual education, healing environment, maintaining same spiritual routine amidst cancer therapy, soul consciousness (in the context of cancer), detachment, and spiritual silence.

Integration of spiritually focused meditation early on at the time of cancer diagnosis could improve quality of life and well-being in cancer survivors. Such spiritual measures have implication to reduce healthcare cost by decreasing cancer related complications. Future research should focus on studying the impact of implementation of spiritual distress screening programs in cancer and other chronic ailments.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Fortune, Luann
Commitee: Heintzman, Jennifer, Kelly, Lisa
School: Saybrook University
Department: Mind Body Medicine
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 80/03(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Spirituality, Oncology
Keywords: Cancer, Interpretative, Meditation, Phenomenology, Rajayoga, Spirituality
Publication Number: 10839182
ISBN: 9780438488816
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