The Use of Religious Songs for Alleviating Psychological Distress
In this study linked here, it is explored how religious songs were used to alleviate psychological symptoms associated with a cancer diagnosis among a sample of older African American cancer survivors.
A young, Italian man introduced himself to me in the following way a couple of weeks ago; "Hi. My name is ... and I am a Buddhist - of the chanting variety!" This really made me smile and led to a very interesting discussion about the joys and benefits of chanting and other forms of spiritual song.
In this study linked here, it is explored how religious songs were used to alleviate psychological symptoms associated with a cancer diagnosis among a sample of older African American cancer survivors. Acupuncture, acupressure, yoga, meditation, cognitive-behavioral techniques, and, to a lesser extent, music are among those integrative and complementary therapies with known beneficial effects on psychological symptoms according to the researchers of this study. However, the use of religious song as a type of integrative and complementary therapy is largely absent from the literature.
Thirty-one older African American cancer survivors participated in a study involving interviews among other qualitative measures. It was found that these participants used religious songs in response to feeling depressed, low, or sad; feeling weak and seeking strength to endure treatment; and feeling worried, anxious, or fearful. Religious songs were also a source of support and hope. Types of religious songs included instructive, thanksgiving and praise, memory of forefathers, communication with God, and life after death.
Researchers concluded that religious songs appear to be an important form of religious expression in this population and used to manage psychological symptoms. The use of chanting in yoga, we feel, would benefit in particular from further study...perhaps a great thesis proposal for an Masters or PhD students out there!