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Accepted Paper:

Yoga and mental health: controlling thoughts, emotions and behaviour  

Author:

Cecilia Bastos (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

While analysing yoga practitioners, I observe how they seek, by the discipline of being aware of their habitual thoughts, actions, roles and behaviours, to control emotions, desires, and to transform their mental health. I wonder what it means to stop our most natural way of thinking and feeling.

Paper long abstract:

While analysing yoga and meditation practitioners, I observe how they seek, by the constant discipline of being aware of their thoughts and actions, to transform physical and mental health. Understanding that attitude patterns of how a person thinks need to change in order to create a state of being directly connected with the body, they believe that especially negative thought processes end up becoming a habit. So, they engage in a fight against the notion that their thoughts are uncontrollable. When choosing to have more control over them, they aim to eliminate ways of thinking that aren't useful, as they understand that repetitive and unconscious thoughts produce automatic behaviour patterns that are almost involuntary and that their attitudes end up becoming part of the same unconscious and predictable pattern. In paying attention to their thoughts as they learn to control emotions and desires, I try to understand what they really aim in becoming aware of unconscious roles and habitual behaviours. I wonder what the consequences might be in trying to change not only one's behaviours but creed, values, attitudes and humour. Do meditation and reflectivity really help in choosing where to put their attention? What mental efforts and kind of determination does it take to achieve this "protected" mental state? In sum, what does it mean to stop our most natural way of thinking and feeling? And how does it relate to spirituality and wellbeing?

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Spirituality and wellbeing: holism, integrality and health