Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

Reduce Aggressiveness in Militant Extremists with Yoga

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

yoga helps to improve symptoms of anxiety and depression in prisoners, and crucially, decreases impulsivity—a known factor in much prison violence.” – Georgia Pike

 

As Mahatma Gandhi has recognized “Victory attained by violence is tantamount to a defeat, for it is momentary.” It attempts to rectify the problem quickly, but the roots of the problem are deep and violence does not address the roots. It only deals with the surface manifestations. This is on display with militant extremists where violence has begot violence for centuries. Rather than solving the root problems, it has instead led to more and more hatred, violence, and deeper and deeper problems.

 

Militant extremism has been increasing recently. Obviously, there is a need in modern society to find methods to reduce violent and aggressive tendencies in extremists who have been captured. Mindfulness training has been shown to reduce aggression and hostility. Yoga is a mindfulness practice whose effects on violent and aggressive behaviors have not been well studied. So, it makes sense to study the effectiveness of yoga practice in reducing aggressive tendencies in captured extremists.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/), Kanchibhotla and colleagues examine the ability of yoga practice to reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists. They recruited ULFA militant extremists in Northern India who had surrendered their arms. They completed a 40-day intensive yoga workshop including postures, breathing exercises, meditation, singing, and discussions. They were measured before and after training for aggression, satisfaction with life, and quality of life including 4 dimensions, physical health, social relationships, environment, and psychological health.

 

They found that after treatment there were significant decreases in aggression including physical aggression, verbal aggression, anger, and hostile behavior. They also found significant improvements in satisfaction with life, and quality of life including physical health, environment, and psychological health.

 

It should be noted that there wasn’t a comparison, control, group. So, the study is open to many potential confounding influences and the results must be interpreted with great caution. But the study group is so unique that the findings should be considered. Yoga practice has been shown in a number of well controlled studies to reduce aggression, and improve quality of life, and satisfaction with life and reduce aggression and violence in prisoners. So, it is reasonable to suggest that the intensive yoga workshop was effective in improving the psychological health of the militant extremists.

 

This suggests that yoga practice and perhaps other mind-body practices may be effective in reducing hostility and aggression in even the most extreme offenders. This also suggests that yoga practice may be useful in treating violent and aggressive individuals generally. This may intervene and disrupt the circle of escalating violence better addressing the roots of the problem.

 

So, reduce aggressiveness in militant extremists with yoga.

 

“subjects in the yoga group showed a significant improvement from the baseline performance in aggression and results . . . are consistent with earlier researches on yoga to reduce aggression.” – Umesh Dwivedi

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kanchibhotla, D., Kulkarni, S., & Singh, S. (2020). Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Yoga Program on Convicted Extremist Offenders. International journal of yoga, 13(1), 50–54. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_79_18

 

Abstract

Objective:

The present study aimed to explore the effect of yoga techniques on well-being and behavior among those who have propagated and participated in extreme violence and aggression. The sample comprised 219 United Liberation Front of Assam militants selected immediately after surrender of arms in the year 2012 from all over northeast region of India.

Methodology:

The study design was a single group with pre- and posttest assessment. All participants attended a 40-day intensive Yoga workshop (Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, Pranayama, Physical postures or Hatha Yoga, Meditation) conducted at Art of Living International Centre, Bengaluru. The impact of spiritual practices was observed on peace, aggression, life satisfaction, and quality of life in individuals using the aggression Buss Perry questionnaire, WHOQOL-BREF, and Satisfaction with Life Scale. The questionnaires were administered at the beginning and at the end of the 40-day workshop.

Results:

Significant results using paired t-test clearly demonstrate that by following yoga techniques (Sudarshan Kriya, Yoga, and Meditation), a reduction in aggression, quality of life, and life satisfaction can be obtained. These practices can be useful for people who want to rehabilitate themselves after incarceration or experience of militancy. The purpose of these measures is to reduce the risk of future criminality by those already convicted of violent extremist offenses, thereby protecting public safety while also benefiting individuals and communities.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6937884/

 

Spirituality is Associated with Enhanced Well-Being

Spirituality is Associated with Enhanced Well-Being

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

despite differences in specific rituals and beliefs among the world’s major religions, that being spiritual tended to improve someone’s health, regardless of his or her actual religion.” – Christopher Bergland

 

Religion and spirituality have been promulgated as solutions to the challenges of life both in a transcendent sense and in a practical sense. What evidence is there that these claims are in fact true? The transcendent claims are untestable with the scientific method. But the practical claims are amenable to scientific analysis. There have been a number of studies of the influence of religiosity and spirituality on the physical and psychological well-being of practitioners mostly showing positive benefits, with spirituality encouraging personal growth and mental health.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Role of Spirituality and Religiosity in Subjective Well-Being of Individuals With Different Religious Status.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6630357/), Villani and colleagues recruited adults online and had them complete an online questionnaire. They were measured for life satisfaction, positive and negative emotions, spirituality, including purpose, innerness, interconnection, and transcendence, and religiosity, including commitment, in-depth exploration, and reconsideration of commitment. Path analysis was used to investigate the interrelationships of these variables.

 

They found that the spirituality dimension of purpose was positively associated with life satisfaction and positive emotions while the dimension if innerness was negatively associated with negative emotions. This was found to be true regardless of the participants religiosity. They found that the religiosity dimension of commitment was also positively associated with and positive emotions regardless of the participants religiosity but with life satisfaction for only individuals who considered themselves religious and not individuals who were religiously uncertain. Further they found that the religiosity dimension of commitment was positively associated with and negative emotions for individuals who were religiously uncertain and negatively associated for individuals who considered themselves religious.

 

This study was correlational, so caution must be exercised in inferring causation. Nevertheless, the results suggest that being spiritual is associated with high levels of psychological well-being regardless of whether the individual is religious or uncertain. On the other hand, the results suggest that religiosity is associated with high levels of psychological well-being only for individuals who are religious, while for uncertain individuals, religious commitment actually is associated with poorer well-being.

 

Thus, spirituality is associated with enhanced well-being.

 

“Spirituality/Religion and its role in promoting physical and behavioral health has been embraced in many public health settings as an important tool to promote wellness.” – SAMHSA

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Villani, D., Sorgente, A., Iannello, P., & Antonietti, A. (2019). The Role of Spirituality and Religiosity in Subjective Well-Being of Individuals With Different Religious Status. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 1525. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01525

 

Abstract

Spirituality and religiosity have been found to be positive predictors of subjective well-being, even if results are not altogether consistent across studies. This mixed evidence is probably due to the inadequate operationalization of the constructs as well as the neglect of the moderation effect that the individuals’ religious status can have on the relation between spirituality/religiosity and subjective well-being. The current study aimed to investigate the relationship of spirituality and religiosity with subjective well-being (operationalized as both life satisfaction and balance between positive and negative affect) and to test whether differences exist according to individuals’ religious status (religious, non-religious, and uncertain). Data were collected from 267 Italian adults aged 18–77 (M = 36.68; SD = 15.13), mainly women (59.9%). In order to test the role of spirituality (operationalized as Purpose, Innerness, Interconnection, and Transcendence) and religiosity (operationalized as three dimensions of the religious identity: Commitment, In-depth Exploration, and Reconsideration of Commitment) in subjective well-being, two path analysis models were run, one for each predictor. To test the invariance of the two models across the individuals’ religious status, two multi-group models were run. The models concerning spirituality were tested on the entire sample, finding that spirituality had a positive impact on subjective well-being (except for the dimension of Interconnection) and that this relation is unaffected by the individual’s religious status. The models concerning religiosity were instead tested only on religious and uncertain, finding that the relationship between religiosity and subjective well-being changes across religious status. In particular, the main difference we found was that religious identity commitment positively predicted satisfaction with life among religious, but not among uncertain individuals. An interpretation of the results and their implications are discussed.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6630357/