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Religious ecstasy

Religious ecstasy is a trance-like state that is deliberately induced using a variety of techniques, including prayer, meditation, breathing exercises, dancing, fasting, thirsting[?], and the consumption of coffee, wine, and/or pyschotropic drugs[?]. The particular technique that an individual uses to induce ecstasy is usually one that is associated with that individual's particular religious and/or cultural traditions. As a result, an ecstatic experience is usually interpreted within the context of a particular individual's religious and/or cultural traditions.

The state of ecstasy is one of expanded awareness, and the typical experience lasts about a half-hour. However, there are many records of such experiences lasting several days. Some people claim to have experienced ecstasy over a period of over three decades, or to have recurring experiences of ecstasy during their lifetime.

Ecstasy can be distinguished from spirit possession[?] and hypnosis in that ecstasy is not accompanied by a loss of consciousness or will on the part of the subject experiencing it. Rather, the person experiencing ecstasy notices dramatic changes in his or her physiological responses and psychological perceptions. In some instances, ecstasy is induced accidentally or spontaneously, thereby creating intense fear and doubts about the mental health of those who experience it.

In the monotheistic tradition, ecstasy is usually associated with communion and oneness with God. Indeed, ecstasy is the primary vehicle for the type of prophetic visions found in the Bible. However, such experiences can also be personal mystical experiences with no significance to anyone but the person experiencing them.

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