Thinking with your SOUL

Thinking with your Soul

Richard Wolman, Ph.D.

Harmony Books, 289 pages


Richard Wolman, a clinical psychologist and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, wrote Thinking with Your Soul with a focus on the PSI (PsychoMatrix Spirituality Inventory), a test he devised to measure individuals’ unique styles of spiritual intelligence. The test evaluates an individual’s level of intelligence within seven spiritual areas or factors:

Divinity – a sense or connection to a higher power
Mindfulness –  attention to one’s own body and its processes
Extrasensory perception – having a sixth sense, such as having a feeling someone will call and then having them call a few minutes later
Community – being involved in religious groups, such as congregations
Intellectuality – willingness to discuss and read about spiritual matters
Trauma – experience of traumatic events, which Wolman considers a stimulus for the development of spirituality
Childhood spirituality – how much one participated in spiritual activities while growing up

The PSI has more in common with a personality test than an IQ test. There are 80 questions, which are all about behaviours and attitudes in life. Each question suggests a behaviour or attitude and the test taker must rank how often they undertake that behaviour or attitude, from never to almost always. Unlike a traditional intelligence test, such as an IQ test or an aptitude test, there are no good or bad scores, just differing scores. A person can receive a high, moderate or low score for each of the seven factors but no matter what the score, it can be manifested in either a positive or negative way, depending on what it prompts the individual to do. Wolman believes everyone is spiritual in some way and even if someone receives a low score for all seven factors, it doesn’t mean they have no spirituality, they may just be highly committed to the practical world; he thinks this is still a form of spirituality as the entire world contains spirit.

After tallying up their scores, readers can flip through Wolman’s detailed descriptions of each factor in the chapters following the PSI test. These chapters describe how a high, moderate or low-scoring individual in each category may behave. For some of the factors, Wolman suggests how to develop more in a particular area, or how one can function best at their present scoring level.

Wolman writes that most people who took the inventory were pleasantly surprised by how accurately their results on the PSI fit their own opinions about their spiritual intelligence. They believed the factors they scored the highest and lowest on made sense when comparing the scores to how they behave in life.

Like other test takers, I found I connected my scores with my real-life experiences. I scored high in the areas of trauma, community, and childhood spirituality, moderately in the areas of intellectuality and divinity, and low in the areas of mindfulness and extra-sensory perception. I’ve experienced quite a bit of trauma since I was ill as a small child and also had a near-death experience as a teenager. While I don’t think either of these events prompted me to any immediate spiritual action, I think they helped me develop the belief that no one’s invincible and that we must have some faith to courageously get through life. My high score for community is fitting since I’ve enjoyed being involved in various clubs and volunteer groups throughout my life, and when I observe my religion I like to do so along with others in a church. My high score in childhood spirituality makes sense because I attended church often as a child, went to Vacation Bible School for a couple of summers, and read some religious children’s books that my grandmother gave me. I wouldn’t dispute my low scores in mindfulness or extrasensory perception as I’ve never felt strongly connected with my body; I can be clumsy, and even though I haven’t had weight problems, in the past I’ve had to be reminded to eat a balanced, healthy diet instead of whatever’s convenient. I’ve never had an experience I would consider even remotely extrasensory.

Thinking with Your Soul is quite long, and written in an academic style, so I’d recommend it to someone who has a large stretch of time to read it. Extensive prior knowledge of spirituality or intelligence isn’t a requirement as Wolman gives background information on current views of those topics and defines his concept of spiritual intelligence in early chapters. For a reader who likes to see the way theories apply to their own life, I suggest that you begin by taking the PSI (Chapter 6) and get your score. This will help you grasp the connection between yourself and the theoretical material in the first five chapters more quickly, making the book more relevant to your life.

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