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Blending Realities: Bridging the Gap Between Science and Spirituality

The challenge: The great divide

Science deals with the knowledge of tangible and concrete forms of matter in the physical world, from the structure of atoms to computers and beyond. Matter can be analyzed and studied, research can be performed, we can measure, gather data, analytics, and metrics. The output helps businesses feel safer in making informed decisions and taking calculated risks.

Conversely, spirituality moves beyond the physical world into the nonphysical realm which has been difficult (if not impossible) to analyze with the same scientific approaches. With feelings as the measuring stick, spirituality fell into a domain of supernatural or magical, with attributes described as squishy, fuzzy, and touchy-feely. Therefore, historically the business world and western society in general greatly valued science and undervalued spirituality.

Expanding this divide, as more individuals studied at western institutions, the more deeply ingrained this philosophy became. Receiving my Executive MBA from Pepperdine in 2006, I can attest to this. There was the peanut butter, and there was the jelly, and in no business scenario did it make sense to combine the two. But in today’s world of business, this is changing. 

The sea change: Bridging the gap

Within the last decade, a sea change is brewing with companies opening their apertures and investing in employee development that includes spirituality practices, and in a paradoxical twist, it is thanks to science. Spirituality practices are bridging the divide and infiltrating the business landscape because science is forging the way, providing leadership with concrete evidence of their significant business benefits and rewards. Case in point, mindfulness and meditation ― long considered spirituality practices ― moved into the mainstream once scientific research proved their numerous benefits to individuals and companies alike across increased creativity, productivity, and more. Businesses like Apple, Google, Nike, and others adopted these practices, investing in dedicating spaces, offering classes, and encouraging employees to participate

This is not to say all leaders avoided spirituality prior. Well before scientific research, intuitively knowing its value high-tech pioneer Steve Jobs journeyed to India seeking the wisdom found within spiritual practices. He, in fact, introduced the company name after visiting a commune referred to as an “apple orchard”.1

The emergence: Neuroscience

Traditionally, anything that could not be scientifically measured or explained was summarily tossed into the spirituality category. This included agnostic practices that harnessed the power of the mind and had nothing to do with spirituality per se.

With the emergence of the burgeoning sixty-years-young neuroscience category, spirituality is being redefined, and practices within it are being reclassified. Brain science that showcases the striking power of the mind across focused thoughts, visualization, tele-prehension, collective consciousness, intention setting, meditation, mindfulness, among other practices are making the transition from spirituality into the neuroscience category. This reclassification further softens the lines between science and spirituality.

The vernacular

Given terminology plays an important role in perceptions, as society becomes more educated and increasingly enlightened our language evolves. Take for example the term ‘mental illness’ that carries a negative connotation, while the more modern use of ‘brain disease’ is a better descriptor and provokes an innocuous perception. Similarly (right or wrong), for many the term ‘spirituality’ evokes an association to religion and consequently has aided in suppressing adoption.

Neuroscience provides a welcomed and more accurate classification for what many practice and teach which has nothing to do with religion, and everything to do with harnessing the power of science and the mind.

Beyond science leading the way to blend realities and the spirituality-to-neuroscience reclassification, up-leveling the terminology also facilitates bridging the gap by making both employers and employees more comfortable in embracing and adopting these practices.

The benefits

In addition to neuroscience, other branches of science are helping to shrink the divide between science and spirituality as they uncover the remarkable human potential that is complementary to and goes far beyond (if not supersedes) analytical abilities. For instance, while western society placed more value on making informed, logical decisions based on data and critical thinking, new research proves that letting our intuition weigh in—listening to what our gut tells us—renders better decisions.2

And, while many were taught that the brain was the central processing unit controlling everything with the heart relegated to emotions and feelings, recent studies have proved that our heart is also an intelligent organ with its own network of neurons and neurotransmitters that have the capacity to trigger thoughts and send messages that affect the brain’s activity.3 Scientifically speaking, letting our heart weigh in renders better decisions, too.

Other studies have established the criticality of a diverse workforce (across a wide spectrum of diversity) that leads to increased business success as companies tap into differing perspectives among other things. With this companies have become more well-rounded, valuing their employees on a more individual and holistic level, and investing in employee development that taps into their greater abilities.

The opportunity

Besides expanding acumen and widening their employee development catalog across soft skills like emotional intelligence, diversity, teamwork, and more, as research continues substantiating the ability to improve and optimize brain function the opportunity arrives for savvy companies to expand their portfolio to include the category of Neuroscience.

Companies can seek out programs such as Advanced Thought Consciousness Development™ that leverages scientific research to advance the thought consciousness of their workforce. Doing so leads to benefits that serve both employees and companies across expedited goal achievement, and a more cohesive work environment with a happier, more engaged workforce.

The conclusion

The handful of factors outlined herein alone are strong indicators if not proof that we are crossing the chasm, bridging the gap between science and spirituality and blending realities. Over the next decade we can expect additional practices currently defined as spirituality to become well-positioned in the mainstream as both companies and employees embrace those with categorically quantified benefits.

In the meantime, for practices that linger in the spirituality category ― those most difficult to measure and explain ― millions of people will continue using them even while unexamined, unstudied, and unproven, just as millions practiced mindfulness and meditation prior to science touting their empirical benefits.

As the litany of research continues to pour in demonstrating the tremendous power and value of intermingling all facets of their employees, businesses will continue recognizing their success depends on far more than research, statistics, and logic. As it turns out, the combination of peanut butter and jelly works well together.

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  1. TNN. (2001, October 7). Trip to India as teen was a life-changer for Steve Jobs. Retrieved April 27, 2020, from The Economic Times: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/international/trip-to-india-as-teen-was-a-life-changer-for-steve-jobs/articleshow/10264889.cms
  2. Wilding, M. (2018, March 8). How to Make Better Decisions by Improving Your Intuition. Retrieved January 18, 2019, from Better Humans: https://betterhumans.coach.me/how-to-make-better-decisions-by-improving-your-intuition-a5ede405d7af
  3. HeartMath, LLC. (2017, December 6). Let Your Heart Talk to Your Brain. Retrieved January 19, 2019, from Huffington Post: https://www.huffpost.com/entry/heart-wisdom_b_2615857
Anita Scott

Anita Scott

Anita M. Scott is the founder of Evolving Humankind. As a leading expert in advanced thought consciousness with a proven series of trademarked courses, she helps companies and their workforce understand and apply brain science to achieve goals they never imagined. Anita’s previous experience spans 20+ years in People leadership roles across Silicon Valley technology companies including eBay, McAfee, and Hewlett-Packard. As a master of innovation with a keen ability to simplify the complex and organize the ambiguous, her work has been recognized with more than a dozen awards including Making History, Winners Circle, and Hero awards. She served on the Board of Directors for Breathe Silicon Valley, and co-founded the Silicon Valley Expanded Workforce Roundtable bringing together leaders across the Technology, Health and Education to collaborate and innovate. Additional recognition includes the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s Women of Influence, and the Building Peaceful Families, Still I Rise Phenomenal Women's Award. Her newest book, The Universe Is Your Search Engine: A User’s Guide to the Science of Attraction, follows her first published work, Greater Than Grateful. Anita is a sought-after speaker and trainer and has presented to large insight-seeking audiences at conferences including SAP Sapphire, and at companies like Adobe and LinkedIn. She holds an MBA from Pepperdine University. Learn more at anitamscott.com.

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