Identifying and Explaining Religious Effects
Chapter 13 reports on research that demonstrates a correlation and supports a causal connection between longer-term, more intense participation in nominally secular yoga or mindfulness and changes in religious self-reporting and affiliations. The chapter develops a theory to explain how embodied practices may produce religious effects. Participating in practice communities may shape perception through 1) intensification and heightened awareness of sensory experiences; 2) reinterpretation of experiences through the lens of socially constructed beliefs and values; and 3) cultural associations that remain after subtracting religious language. This interplay may elicit emotional and affective responses, inspire attitudes performed metaphorically, and establish ideas in memory. Because meditative practices are embodied, regularly repeated, and emotionally charged, such practices may be more efficacious than doctrinal teachings in conveying and reinforcing religious meanings. This chapter argues that marketing yoga and mindfulness as secular science can both veil and heighten religious effects through encouraging involvement by those who would abstain if they initially perceived these practices as religious. Practitioners may experience emotional reactions or affectiveresponses that motivate actions to generate desired emotions; internalize metaphorically enacted attitudes; and interpret experiences as confirming truth and goodness of religious assumptions, values, and world views associated with yoga or mindfulness.
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