Yoga pose
The science of spiritual narcissism

“Don’t get me wrong: I genuinely enjoy looking at all the varied and intricate yoga poses on Instagram. But from my reading of the yoga literature, it doesn’t seem as though the theoretical intent of yoga is primarily for physically attractive people to display with pride their ability to twist themselves into a pretzel. Rather, it seems that the most growth-oriented benefits of mind-body spiritual practices occur when we aren’t using them as a tool for satisfying any of our basic needs—such as our needs for security, belonging and self-esteem. Instead, such practices seem to lead to greater maturity, wisdom, compassion, acceptance and unconditional positive regard toward others when we repeatedly attempt to cultivate the ability to be witness to our mind and behaviors so that we can catch when our crafty ego has hijacked the system in a way that is detrimental to our own self-actualization and self-transcendence.

 

Which has me thinking: Perhaps it’s time for all of these yoga and mindfulness centers to chill on all of the extrinsic purported benefits they are claiming (“Better heath!” “Better sex!” “Amazing concentration!” “Great success at work!”), and just focus on the benefits of such spiritual practices for allowing us to realize that such concerns of the ego are just the ego doing its thing. That awareness, in and of itself, is enough of a benefit to last an enlightened lifetime. “

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