A skeptic is one who prefers beliefs and conclusions that are reliable and valid to ones that are comforting or convenient… — Steven Novella
This is a good way to define someone with common sense and a healthy mind. Learn how you can develop this skill set no matter what you believe.
Healthy Mindset Tips
Almost everyone you talk to would agree with the above statement about a skeptic. Even the religious believer would agree as long as they could qualify what they think is reliable evidence. So, developing a healthy mind is a good thing. Learning to question things is also prudent.
This is different than being a cynic. A cynic is someone with a cynical or pessimistic attitude. Being skeptical is not an attitude, it is the philosophy of questioning things. So, a skeptical mindset is being open-minded but also validating the evidence. Here is the best way to gain and maintain this perspective:
1) Eliminate Negative Programming
2) Practice self-care
Add elements of self-care to your daily routine. Self-care isn’t selfish if you do it in moderation. This is one of the healthy mindset tips for the spiritual explorer that is often overlooked. But, it is just as important as the other tips.
3) Learn to Research
Use the scientific method to determine fact from fiction. Enhance your critical thinking skills. Study and use the toolbox of logic. This includes logical reasoning, spotting logical fallacies, and logical axioms. These mental tools will help you avoid many common pitfalls of a culture immersed in religious dogma and commercialism.
4) Strive to be a Freethinker
Develop the skills of a healthy open-minded skeptic. Become a freethinker. Learn how to see things from all angles. Again, learn to apply the scientific method to your thinking.
A Skeptical Mindset And the Scientific Method
“.. therefore rigorously and openly applies the methods of science and reason to all empirical claims, especially their own. A skeptic provisionally proportions acceptance of any claim to valid logic and a fair and thorough assessment of available evidence and studies the pitfalls of human reason and the mechanisms of deception so as to avoid being deceived by others or themselves. Skepticism values method over any particular conclusion. — Steven Novella
This is a nice way of saying the all hypotheses and claims need to stand up to the rigorous scientific processes and verifiable evidence. And, one should be on guard to avoid being deceived into believing sources that point out the inconsistencies. The true meaning of skepticism has nothing to do with doubt, disbelief, or negativity.
Skepticism is the process of applying reason and critical thinking to determine validity. It’s the process of finding a supported conclusion, not the justification of a preconceived conclusion. This is also the basis of the scientific method.
What is the Scientific Method?
Science doesn’t care what you believe. The scientific method is a process for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be scientific, a method of inquiry must use empirical or measurable evidence on which to base conclusions. We can describe this process in six steps:
- Make observations
- Record and communicate the observation accurately as possible
- Form questions concerning what we observe to find out more
- Form a hypothesis using the evidence
- Conduct an experiment
- Analyze the data and formulate a hypothesis
These Six Steps either confirms the hypothesis or leads to other questions. The ability to make good observations is also essential to the development of other science process skills: communicating, classifying, measuring, inferring, and predicting. So, an open-minded skeptic is a Freethinker guided by Logic.
Shades of Skepticism
Scientific skepticism and rational skepticism are the same things. And, both of these are sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry or methodological skepticism. However, scientific skepticism is different from philosophical skepticism.
The New Skepticism described by Paul Kurtz is called scientific skepticism. It is the basis of all other healthy mindset tips for any spiritual explorer.
Philosophical skepticism deals with our ability to claim any knowledge about the nature of the world and how we perceive it. Methodological skepticism is nothing more than using a systematic process. Subsequently, testing, being skeptical about, or doubting findings and conclusions one reaches. That’s the same as the various forms of science-based skepticism.
Religious skeptics question religious authority and are not necessarily anti-religious. However, they tend to be skeptical of all religious beliefs and/or practices. There are some that question whether religion is a viable topic for criticism given that it doesn’t require proof. It’s a system based on belief. Others, however, insist it is as much as any other knowledge except that it requires faith. And, most often their test of reliability is their sacred texts or their religious leader’s opinion. So, their skepticism is qualified.
They are taught to apply their skepticism to external sources only. For example, anything that contradicts their paradigm is automatically unreliable. Anything that points out the errors, contradictions, or fallacies of these texts is an unreliable source. This also applies to sources of any otherwise scientific sources or processes.
“Briefly stated, a skeptic is one who is willing to question any claim to truth, asking for clarity in definition, consistency in logic, and adequacy of evidence. The use of skepticism is thus an essential part of objective scientific inquiry and the search for reliable knowledge.” — Paul Kurtz
Developing a Health Skeptical Mindset
So, are you on-board with this method of seeking spiritual truth? It’s open to everyone, no matter what you believe. All you need to do is follow engage in activities that foster a healthy mindset.
Above all, this discussion should make you think about how religion has integrated itself into the fabric of your life. Even if you aren’t ready to become a methodological skeptic, you should learn to question the cultural narrative. It should make you think about all the other ways religion has integrated itself into the fabric of our modern lives.
Thankfully, you don’t have to believe in religion to engage in spiritual exploration. It’s very different from religion. It’s the opposite. In fact, developing a skeptical mindset is a result of enhancing your critical thinking skills. Learn to approach each subject with an open mind, a beginner attitude, and healthy skepticism. This is just one component we recommend you include in your spiritual toolbox.
Spiritual technologies are methods for exploring consciousness. They are processes that can change or expand our awareness. Some of them are also doorways to higher states of consciousness. In short, spiritual technologies are methods of change. These processes result from eons of research by cultures around the world. Using these tools is what we call spiritual exploration.
Moreover, the tools stand up to the test of science. That’s because they are repeatable. Several produce measurable changes in our physiology. It’s important to realize what spiritual exploration is not.
To emphasize, spiritual exploration is not a belief in religious dogma or doctrine. So, anyone from any background can use them. They do not require belief in any religion to use them. This means they are available to anyone that can follow a process. It’s like baking a cake. If you use the right ingredients and follow the directions, you get something delicious.
There are many ways to list these methods. One simple way is to divide them into four main groups. You could list some of these tools in more than one group.
- Analytical Tools
- Awareness Expansion Tools
- Healing Practices
The study of spiritual things seems like an odd place to find analytical tools. However, analytical processes are vital to the spiritual quest. This is because their use enhances our reasoning ability. This helps us to think more clearly. In turn, this helps us avoid many of the common obstacles. The two tools in this group are Logical Reasoning and The Enneagram of Personality.
The study of logic is the first tool we use in our group practice. It’s especially helpful for those new to the spiritual path. And, we also come back to review them regularly. This keeps them fresh in our minds.
We use a set of three related tools. The first tool is Logical reasoning. This article summarizes logic. It shows how people misuse logic to sell us ideas and beliefs. Next, is spotting logical fallacies. This module provides practical examples of the most common logical fallacies. The last module, the logical axioms, ties everything together.
Comparative Analysis is another valuable analytical tool. This is a systematic approach to research based on the scientific model. It is a method that compares ideas and beliefs from different worldviews.
This process introduces the challenge of comparing their beliefs to other worldviews. Here we also learn why it is so important to use emotional checks. It helps us research with the least amount of bias and prejudice.
Above all, the use of logical reasoning and comparative analysis will sharpen your ability to discern fact from fiction. So, these aren’t just for research. You’ll find a use for these tools every day. Besides their use with religion, politics the are also helpful with TV and Radio newscasts.
The Enneagram of Personality
The Enneagram of Personality is a tool that helps us understand the mechanisms of Ego, personality, and instinct. Modern psychology and the Enneagram share many of the same concepts and authors. Borrowing and then building on the work of others was and remains a common practice. For instance, Jungian psychology parallels the structure of the Enneagram with its nine processes of consciousness.
The core of the Enneagram Personality Profile is a series of questionnaires. If you provide honest answers, you will get an accurate profile of our personality. Furthermore, the scientific method of testing verifies the accuracy of this tool. The system goes beyond identification into deeper thought processes and beliefs. It integrates spiritual and psychological understanding. It will lead you to an understanding of the source of your personal power.
When you say spiritual practice, many people think of meditation. Seated and moving forms of meditation are the centerpiece of spiritual exploration. The practice of meditation is now common knowledge. Both seated and moving meditation bring many health and wellness benefits.
Seated meditation is the heart of many spiritual practices. This includes a range of tools from basic Mindfulness Meditation through Japa or Transcendental Meditation (TM). And, also includes more advanced practices like the Siddhis of Patanjali. It also includes more contemporary processes for grounding, like Tree Grounding and Sun Gazing.
Moving meditation is action together with a heightened level of awareness. So, this includes a range of activities involving the mind-body connection. Using these modalities helps improve our health and wellness. This progression includes energy collection modalities like Qigong and Tai Chi. It also includes Forest Bathing.
Awareness Expansion Tools
This group is a mix of tools dealing with awareness and perception. This group of processes starts with the Shamanic Journey or Guided Meditation. It also includes lucid dreaming, third-eye awakening exercises, and techniques to improve memory. Another important tool is the spiritual journal or book of shadows. This is your best coach. It also includes exercises like automatic writing. You could list these tools among some groups. However, we like to list separately because of their importance to awareness.
The Shamanic Journey is probably man’s first spiritual technology. This traditional method is at the core of many indigenous cultures. And, so, it serves as evidence to the historical importance of the inner quest.
There are many variations on this theme, but all use essentially the same formula. Rhythm is a key element that regulates heart rate and breathing. Then the mind projects an inner world providing the lucid journey. A Shaman is a person who guides people through this journey in the spirit world. However, you can take this inward journey by yourself. This tool for changing awareness uses a range of seated and moving forms.
This is one of the ancient technologies that people have tried to rename or rebrand. They do this to make the Shamanic Journey more marketable. So, some people know it as guided meditation or creative visualization.
The last group is healing practices. This group includes a diverse set of tools such as Pe Jet from Indonesia, or Reiki, and Shiatsu from Japan. Vedic medicine is also available along with other traditional healing forms. Self-care is a vital part of this group. Our overall health and wellness affect every aspect of life.
Using any healing method is a natural outlet for our positive energy. Many people come to the healing arts as a secondary interest. Then they find it is an enjoyable way of giving back and helping others.
Interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission. This helps others learn the knowledge for developing their path.
Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia