Journal Article

Spiritual Individualism or Engaged Spirituality? Social Implications of Holistic Spirituality among Mind–Body–Spirit Practitioners

Seil Oh and Natalia Sarkisian

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 73, issue 3, pages 299-322
Published in print September 2012 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online November 2011 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srr054
Spiritual Individualism or Engaged Spirituality? Social Implications of Holistic Spirituality among Mind–Body–Spirit Practitioners

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Scholars disagree whether spirituality promotes individualistic withdrawal or fosters social engagement. This study addresses the spiritual individualism versus engaged spirituality debate and investigates the social implications of “holistic” spirituality among mind–body–spirit (MBS) practitioners belonging to fitness (Yoga), therapeutic (Dahn Yoga and Healing), and cult (Art of Living) types of practice. The findings indicate that spirituality is positively associated with altruistic behaviors, participation in nonreligious voluntary associations, and individual political action. Collective forms of political engagement, however, are most prevalent at moderate levels of spirituality. These relationships depend on the type of MBS practice: spirituality is related to social involvement among those practicing Yoga and Art of Living but not among Dahn Yoga practitioners. Thus, spirituality of MBS practitioners does not entrap them in spiritual individualism, although its ability to foster social engagement is limited insofar as collective action is concerned and does not extend to the therapeutic type of MBS.

Keywords: spirituality; individual religiosity; civic participation; organizations; politics; practice; yoga; collective action

Journal Article.  9306 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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