Improve Happiness and Meditative Experiences with Yoga
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” – Walt Whitman
“Meditation leads to concentration, concentration leads to understanding, and understanding leads to happiness” – This wonderful quote from the modern day sage Thich Nhat Hahn is a beautiful pithy description of the benefits of mindfulness practice. Mindfulness allows us to view our experience and not put labels on it, not make assumptions about it, not relate it to past experiences, and not project it into the future. Rather mindfulness lets us experience everything around and within us exactly as it is arising and falling away from moment to moment.
A variety of forms of mindfulness training have been shown to increase psychological well-being and happiness. So, it would be expected that yoga practice would similarly increase these positive states. It is not known, however, if yoga training can produce a cross-training effects, improving the effectiveness of other mindfulness practices.
In today’s Research News article “Effects of Maharishi Yoga Asanas on Mood States, Happiness, and Experiences during Meditation. International Journal of Yoga.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769201/ ), Gobec and colleagues recruited college students who practiced Transcendental Meditation. They were provided a 2-week course in yoga that met for 2 hours on 8 days over 2 weeks and included instruction in theory and practice of postures. The participants were measured before and after the training for mood states and resilience. They found that after training there was a significant decrease in total disturbance of their mood states.
In a second experiment the yoga training occurred for 4 weeks and a matched group of control participants was included. The participants were measured before and after the training for mood states and meditative experiences including: hindrances, relaxation, personal self, transpersonal qualities, and transpersonal self. They found that in comparison to the control participants after yoga training there were significant increases in happiness and meditative experiences, including personal self, transpersonal qualities, and transpersonal self.
The results suggest that yoga practice improves mood particularly increasing happiness as has been found to be true for contemplative practices in general. In addition, the results suggest that yoga practice alters the experiences that occur during meditation, including increased ability to transcend experiences of body and mind during meditation. This should greatly enhance the depth and effectiveness of the meditation. This is a completely new finding that yoga practice can enhance the individual’s experience during a separate mindfulness practice, meditation. This “cross-training” effect may greatly increase the effects of yoga practice on the psychological and spiritual health of the individual.
So, improve happiness and meditative experiences with yoga.
“According to yoga philosophy, santosha, which means contentment, is a form of self-discipline. In other words, happiness is a skill and practice. Happier people do not have easier lives, with less hard work, grief, divorce, or financial strain than the rest of us. They’re simply more grateful for what they have and choose to be conscious of their contentment more often.” – Rebecca Pacheco
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Gobec, S., & Travis, F. (2018). Effects of Maharishi Yoga Asanas on Mood States, Happiness, and Experiences during Meditation. International Journal of Yoga, 11(1), 66–71. http://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_66_16
Many studies showed positive effects of Yoga Asanas. There is no study on Maharishi Yoga Asanas yet. This research replicated and expanded observed improvements on the profile of mood states (POMS) as a result of 2-week Maharishi Yoga Asanas course. Thirteen college students taking part in a 4-week course on Maharishi Yoga Asanas were matched with 13 students taking other courses at the university.
Aims and Objective:
The main objective of the study was to assess the effects of Maharishi Yoga Asanas on mood states, degree of happiness, and experiences in Transcendental Meditation (TM) practice.
All students were given two psychological tests and additional question before and after their 4-https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769201/happiness.
Repeated measure MANOVA showed the 4-week Maharishi Yoga Asanas course resulted in significant increase in happiness during the day and significant improvements in (1) sense of personal self, (2) transpersonal qualities, and (3) transpersonal self during their TM practice.
This research shows that Maharishi Yoga Asanas affect more than body and mind. Rather they influence much deeper levels of one’s subjectivity including one’s transpersonal self.