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Studies suggest spiritual practices may prompt visitors to log off the mat and engage

(RNS) For a long time, spiritual practices such as for example yoga and meditation have already been criticized as therapeutic self-help regimens that draw people inward and from any type of social, civic or political action.

But two new academic studies are challenging that view. The studies analyze data from the 2020 survey of 3,609 adults conducted by the National Opinion Research Focus on behalf of the Fetzer Institute. They discovered that individuals who do yoga, meditation or other spiritual practices are as likely as religious visitors to be civic-minded and politically engaged.

The studies, published in the Journal for the STUDY of Religion and the American Sociological Review, suggest spiritual practices may prompt visitors to connect socially just as as individuals who attend churches, synagogues and mosques.

The JSSR study discovered that individuals who consider themselves both religious and spiritual are likely to be civically engaged accompanied by individuals who consider themselves only spiritual however, not religious. Individuals who said these were only religious however, not spiritual came in third.

Spirituality can be an unacknowledged resource for civic life., said Brian Steensland, a sociology professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and the lead writer of the JSSR article.

In comparison to people who take part in neither spiritual nor religious practices, the outcomes were startling: The ASR study discovered that individuals who were focused on regular religious or spiritual practices were 33% more prone to participate in some type of political activity weighed against individuals who said they do neither. (Types of political engagement included attending a gathering to speak about political concerns; calling, writing or visiting public officials; giving money to political candidates; joining a protest march; and signing a petition.)

In the last half-century, church attendance and membership havefallen. The median U.S. church has 65 or fewer people in attendance on any given weekend, a drop from 137 people in 2000. Churches and denominations want to figure out how to proceed with empty buildings. Even belief in God is apparently dropping.


RELATED: Poll: Americans belief in God is dropping


As religious practice continues to decline over the U.S., many scholars are turning their focus on individuals who say they’re spiritual or who take part in spiritual practices such as for example yoga, meditation, fasting and communing with nature.

Photo by Zac Durant/Unsplash/Creative Commons

Photo by Zac Durant/Unsplash/Creative Commons

The question for scholars is whether those spiritual activities, which are generally done individually, may also influence prosocial behavior such as for example helping a neighbor, protesting injustice or casting a ballot.

These studies suggest they do.

Criticism of spirituality as inherently selfish could be overblown, wrote Jaime Kucinskas, a sociologist at Hamilton College, and Evan Stewart, a sociologist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, in the ASR study. Such criticisms have didn’t examine how spirituality comes with an elective affinity with political behavior off the mat, in peoples everyday lives.

That study discovered that individuals who scored on top of spiritual practices however, not religious practices accounted for 18% of respondents in the analysis. Individuals who scored on top of religious practices (such as for example attending services) however, not on spiritual practices composed 19% of respondents. About 30% of respondents were both spiritual and religious and about 34% were neither spiritual nor religious.

The 18% who scored on top of spiritual practices tended to be political liberals who identify as Democrats. They stood out in different ways, too. Included in this were a higher percentage of individuals of color, gays, lesbians or bisexual people. Many were divorced, never married or cohabiting.

The ranks of the spiritual however, not religious also included atheists and agnostics. The analysis discovered that 31% of atheists and agnostics do yoga; 32% build relationships nature and 33% make art all defined as spiritual practices performed daily or weekly.

The spiritual practices listed in the survey included yoga, meditation, tarot, reading, fasting, being in nature, writing, honoring ancestors and making art.

Stewart, the co-author of the ASR study, said the conclusions were encouraging for American civic life, which includes historically relied on religious organizations to mobilize people. He suggested organizations such as for example yoga studios or meditation centers can also be places that inspire civic and political action.

People may be changing the actions they do, but theyre still involved with community. It generally does not necessarily mark the decline of community. Theyre leaving one activity and getting into another.


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