Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Self Control and Religion

Highly interesting article by Tierney from the Times about the correlation between religious participation and self-control. I'm a big fan of self-control, but not so big on self-delusion. On a side note, I went to Christmas services with the fam. Of all the stuff that gets said in a Catholic mass, nothing sticks with me as much as "lead us not into temptation" - there's some self control for you.

I'm intrigued by this connection and it resonates on the intuit-o-meter, but I'm finding from my own experience that a godhead to whom one sucks up is not a required element in the equation. A quasi-religious discipline like yoga or meditation - I've been varying degrees of devout about both, but I'm currently mad for yoga - works for me, but the key has been a disciplined approach - Which begs the chicken and egg question I suppose.

From the Times:
So what’s a heathen to do in 2009? Dr. McCullough’s advice is to try replicating some of the religious mechanisms that seem to improve self-control, like private meditation or public involvement with an organization that has strong ideals.

Religious people, he said, are self-controlled not simply because they fear God’s wrath, but because they’ve absorbed the ideals of their religion into their own system of values, and have thereby given their personal goals an aura of sacredness. He suggested that nonbelievers try a secular version of that strategy.

4 Comments:

Blogger Dharma said...

Yoga is a spiritual practice, NOT a religion, quasi or otherwise. In fact it is pretty darn close to anti-religion (not anti-God) as it starts from the belief that enlightenment can be found through your own body.

10:09 AM  
Blogger J.Knecht said...

Yes. . .maybe spiritual is accurate, but another word is "sacred." I think that the sacred-ness and the discipline go hand in hand and reinforce each other. So I invest into my yoga a sacred or devotional attention (but the goal isn't GOD, per say, or at least anything external - it's the opposite: something internal). I think this idea of sacredness is at the core of the article's point.

To explore further, maybe the sacred-ness is a product of some kind of sacrifice. A spiritual experience can happen any time any place, with no sacrifice required and may in fact be a surprise (a near death experience, for example) Something sacred is manufactured, and it's sacredness something that is bestowed upon it.

I treat my yoga as sacred, just as I assume many people around the world treat their prayer as sacred. I'm feel like I might be flexing the same mental muscles when I yoga or meditate as others do when they pray.

What do you think?

11:53 PM  
Blogger Dharma said...

Totally agree. I think too many people in this country treat yoga like a form of calisthenics. Understandable considering the way and where it is taught. I think the yoga practice should be like a meditation. And there is of course a whole slew of philosophy behind it (read Patanjali's yoga sutras). Anyway, the yoga teacher in me was just picking bones about religion vs. spirituality. ;)

7:32 PM  
Anonymous maicher said...

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11:22 AM  

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