Dr. Mariana Caplan — Does Yoga Work? |382|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, Jun 12, 2018.

  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Mariana Caplan — Does Yoga Work? |382|
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    Dr. Mariana Caplan think yoga is just what psychology and psychotherapy needs.
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    photo by: Skeptiko
    Alex Tsakiris:
    Welcome to Skeptiko where we explore controversial science with leading researchers, thinkers and their critics. My guest today is Mariana Caplan, who has a new book, Yoga & Psyche.

    Mariana, welcome. Thanks so much for joining me.

    Mariana Caplan: It’s a pleasure to be here, I’m looking forward to it.

    Alex Tsakiris: I am too, I was so excited to read this book. I am such a yogi and I have been such a yogi for so long, and I think that anyone who’s ever stepped on the mat and had a sense that more is going on than just these poses.

    Mariana Caplan: Great, so my whole adult life has been spent studying, practicing and teaching in these parallel traditions, though I really do prioritize the role of student, when we’re talking about something as vast as yoga or as deep as the psyche, which is connected to the world of psychology.

    Alex Tsakiris: …make the case for yoga and psychology. What’s the science? What’s the most compelling science that you cite in the book that you think makes the case?

    Mariana Caplan: So, with two doctoral students several years ago, I worked to survey all of the academic research to date at that time. Not only in yoga and psychology, but yoga and neuroscience, yoga and trauma, trauma and psychology, mindfulness and psychology and so forth. And we surveyed over 200 published academic articles and we summarized it for people.

    Essentially there’s ample scientific documentation. But yoga, even without the psychology, this most basic practice of physical postures for a period of time, minus all the extra goodies that I think are so enhancing, addresses and has proven to be beneficial for, just name a handful; anxiety and depression, eating disorders, suicide prevention, autoimmune disorders, wellbeing, attention deficit disorders, there’s a huge list. All the sciences summarized in a people friendly way in the book.

    But basically, the science has shown yoga’s benefits on most major categories in the DSM, which is the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, it is the most mainstream and useful, in many ways, text to survey all the psychological disorders known in the western world.

    (later in the interview)

    Alex Tsakiris: …and until we’re real about this and real about the causes of why psychology has gone down this pharmacological model and has pushed it, even when the data comes back and says, “Hey, depression, mild depression, this multi-billion-dollar industry, it is not more effective than placebo, but we still sell billions of dollars of this.”

    So, I love that you say, “Maybe we’ll just grow out of this and keep going guys” but, maybe not, these guys have a strong financial interest in keeping things the way they are. So, what are the changes that you’ve seen in your career and how can we expedite it? Don’t we need to call these people out?

    Mariana Caplan: I agree with everything you said. When we talk about calling these people out, it brings an image of amorphic “them”, and for me, I don’t know how to do that. So, I do what I do know how to do, which is…

    Alex Tsakiris: I know who they are because I talk to them all the time. One of the things I try to do is invite them on this show and I get guys like the NYU Professors of Psychology who will say categorically, that I’m wrong and that consciousness is a function of the brain, and here’s how it works, and the neurological model is winning and all of the rest of that.

    So, it’s not just playing around when I say “them and us”, it is “them and us”, it’s an ideological divide. If you’re giving people high doses of psycho pharmacy crap, then you’re doing that because you’ve bought into that model, you’re them. That’s not to say there aren’t places and instances where it’s useful, but I mean come on, there is a them.

    Mariana Caplan: Yeah, I don’t disagree, I was just saying for me, when I look at that, I don’t know what to do. So, maybe this is my optimist, but I look at what I can do. I can research, I can write, I can share, I can touch individuals, I can touch groups, I can touch larger amounts of people through writing and when it’s done in a very grounded, pragmatic way, with some scientific research included, it’s going to speak more effectively.
     
  2. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

    From the spiritual seeker's standpoint, what relationship is there between the body and what we might do with it (like with yoga poses or breathing exercises), and connecting with extended consciousness/deep spirituality?
     
  3. There is a very close connection between the body and psychic / spiritual experiences.

    Psychic abilities run in families but not all siblings have the abilities. This suggests the explanation is a genetic link between the body and psychic abilities rather than an environmental effect.

    There are many different types of yoga and I am not an expert in any of them. However I know from my small experience that some types of yoga, deep breathing, and other traditional physical practices like qiugong and tai-chi are extremely effective at turning off the body's response to stress.

    I have greater experience with Buddhism. The central problem Buddhism tries to solve, in the language of the sutras, is: "dukkah" which can be translated as stress or mental anguish or suffering. Turn off stress and you turn off "suffering" ie mental anguish. Yoga and other physical techniques that turn off the body's response to stress are simple and practical ways, easy to do and easy to understand, for Buddhists to purse their path.

    Many of the abstruse spiritual philosophical concepts you hear about, for example oneness, can be understood only vaguely from reading about them. To understand them you have to experience them. This happens naturally when you start hacking your nervous system through physical practices.

    Also from personal experience I can say that turning off the stress response, ie relaxing increases receptiveness to psychic impressions.

    When I took classes in spirit communication we would meditate to prepare for communication. The brain is part of the body and meditation influences the brain in ways that make it more receptive to psychic perceptions.

    There is also a lot of research showing that deeply relaxed states like the hypnogogic state make people more receptive to psychic impressions.

    https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/natural_mediumship
    This quote shows one connection between the physical body (brain) and spiritual experiences:
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/05/experience-of-oneness.html
    It should not surprise anyone that the body is connected to spirituality. When we are in the body we see through the eyes, hear through the ears, etc. Why would anyone expect that we would not also perceive spiritually through the nervous system? It makes sense if you understand the brain does not produce consciousness it filters consciousness.
    Physical practices like yoga can alter the brain and alter how the brain filters consciousness making psychic and spiritual perceptions possible.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
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  4. A consequence of the link between the body and spirituality is that if the body (nervous system) is not working properly, your ability to perceive spiritually may be limited. Sometimes you have to get the nervous system working right before spiritual practices will have the effects you seek.

    And I don't think spiritual practices are necessarily the complete answer to all psychological problems. My own belief is that diet and exercise could get many (but not all) people off medication for common complaints like anxiety and depression. I think part of the problem is the business model for the medical / pharmaceutical industry - all the financial incentives of repeated office visits and pharmaceutical use are hard to overcome.

    But you need to be careful when trashing "psycho pharmacy crap". There are some people who are helped by medication and it can be dangerous to them and other people to encourage them to reject medication. There are connections between spirituality and mental illness - some people having hallucinations may hear voices they believe are supernatural entities, others who may be depressed sometimes seek answers to a seemingly meaningless existence by asking spiritual questions. So particularly on a forum where spiritual questions are discussed you have to be careful not to do anything to encourage people to go off their medication. (Yes I know some of the medications are dangerous and are connected to school shootings - you have to consider each case individually.)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    If you believe that everything boils down to consciousness, like Idealists do, then body and spirit constitute a mistaken duality, caused by our senses. The body is the way that we perceive/sense ourselves and others, and leads to a merely apparent duality: the interpretation that each of us is a discrete and separate being, and spirituality, only dimly intuited as a longing for connection and unity. Spirituality becomes something else, something separate and different from what we currently are. There's my body and what I seek to become, and they're different categories in my mind. Somehow I must find a way to transition from the one to the other, but actually they're both part of the same continuum that is at this moment evolving, and can only be what it is.

    Like the guy Alex mentioned said, this doesn't work. What works better is to put aside one's desires for enlightenment, nirvana or whatever, and live in the now: desires are usually misinformed and represent only how we'd like things to be, rather than what what they currently are. If we need faith, it is only that living in the present gives us the best chance to evolve. It's an ineffable process, and sometimes one may not be aware it's been happening until one day one wakes up with a new understanding without knowing how one got there. Experience this enough times, and one can dispense with the faith: it has become a kind of knowledge.

    If Yoga practice is what does it for you -- what enables you to centre yourself in your present state of awareness -- then fine. I don't think it's the only way, however, and speaking purely personally, it doesn't do the trick for me because my mind is too active. I think there are ways for people with a minds like mine to centre themselves in the present that aren't Yoga. Tai Chi works a little better for me, but even moreso, contemplation, i.e. following a topic of thought without prejudgement as to the outcome (indeed without expectation of a resolution). I find I can do this in the midst of everyday life, which is just as well, because I'm an inveterate multi-tasker. Just so long as I give the topic for contemplation sufficiently high priority, it seems to work.

    As regards the Osho thing, I haven't watched the Wild Wild Country documentary as I don't have Netflix, but I've watched a few of the videos about the responses to it, and it looks like it's not quite clear cut what happened: it could in part be a clash of culture thing. On the one hand you've got the likes of Ken WIlber who reckons that even the most spiritually adept people can rank rather low in some ordinary human ways, and on the other, Idries Shah who tells us about the malamati or blameworthy ones of Sufism, who deliberately provoke the disapproval of people.

    And as for regarding the current pope as a paedophile by default, well, all I can say is, innocent till proven quilty... I went to Roman Catholic primary and secondary schools and never saw any untoward activity by priests. Doesn't mean there are no paedophile priests in the Catholic church, of course, only that the problem seems to be being over-emphasised (and by the way, what about the priests of other Christian denominations such as Anglicans? A little Googling might surprise you).

    It's all part of the war on Christianity by trendy twerps who, amazingly, seem to have no problem with Muslims who also have their fair share of paedophiles. But what can you do with a religion that reveres a prophet who reportedly consummated his marriage with Aisha when she was only nine?
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  6. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    Slow controlled deep breathing (using my stomach muscles “diaphragm”) and NOT my chest to achieve the breaths is really a miracle practice in my opinion. If im having trouble sleeping, I relax and focus on taking these slow controlled deep breaths and feel my stomach slowly rise and fall and I’m usually asleep after several breaths. Or, if I’m up and about and feel panicked or stressed, I close my eyes and focus on breathing for 5 minutes and WOW, what a difference it makes in calming you.
     
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  7. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    [​IMG]

    Consider what an A-Level Scumbag a person needs to be in order to have a website called http://www.realspirituality.com , that claims to help people with Spiritual matters, while in reality being an atheist materialist. Disgusting.

    Kudos for the valiant attempt by Alex to get this duplicitous Shyster to take any moral or "spiritual" position.

    My favorite part was when Alex almost got this creepy woman to say buggering little boys is A-Ok for Catholic Priests as long as they are "intelligent in their path", and "grown-up in their self-awareness". She almost did it.

    Alex's yogic patience was astounding. I would have slammed the phone down on this Con Artist after 15 minutes of her New Age say-nothing Frisco Flakes.
     
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  8. Ginko

    Ginko New

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    Hey! Will yoga help me get in contact with aliens? Does anybody know? Both the psychic kind and the nuts-n-bolts kind? Like real little green men? Probably right? Cuz aliens are so spiritual and everything! Right?
     
  9. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    You'll have better luck with mushrooms, the funny kind. Too bad Terrence Mckenna isnt still around for Alex to interview. What a mind that guy had.

     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
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  10. AryaS

    AryaS Member

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    I might have to listen to this interview again since I didn't really get much meat from it. However, the guest seemed a bit too defensive throughout. On the other hand, I really appreciated Alex's taking a firm moral stand on several issues. Yes, there is an "us" and a "them" when it comes to psychotropic medications vs. alternative therapies, and yes, I think it's safe to assume that when the Pope surrounds himself with pedophiles and continues to be an apologist for the rampant pedophilia within the Church, he's likely a pedophile too.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Agreed! I think some recent podcasts have suffered from a lack of adequate planning. I think it is important to remember that not all listeners will have the same background, and some may be listening as their introduction to Skeptiko.
    I thought the latest pope was trying to make an effort to stop this problem, but I don't follow it closely, and unfortunately you may be right.

    David
     
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  12. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I have always applauded the recent Pope. But I didnt know anything about the scandal Alex spoke of, still don't really. But maybe its a stretch to call him a pedophile?
     
  13. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    There is none to be had. She is a word salad chef con artist and nothing more.

    Did you detect how the Gud Doktor went shields-up the instant Alex uttered the word "conspiracy" about a third of the way in?

    She was squirming and wanted it to be over for the rest of the interview.

    Ph.D certification is basically a gold-standard System Credential which employers and contractors can rely upon to ensure a person will never deviate too far from Political Correctness and System Orthodoxy. That person can be relied upon to obey strict boundaries of thought and action.

    "Ph.D" is exactly like the Elite Political Status lapel pins which the loyalty-tested and approved cadre of North Korea wear. Deviate from orthodoxy, and your access to upper-class financial reward is withdrawn. Dr. Caplan was having none of that, thank you very much.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. Facts don't matter.

    http://www.newsweek.com/priests-commit-no-more-abuse-other-males-70625
    And there's this:
    https://pjmedia.com/instapundit/?s=teach+women+not+to+rape
     
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  15. Alex,

    When you interview someone who tells you their spiritual practice helps with depression and anxiety, please ask them how they measured the effect. People listening will think they can cure their problems and might spend time and money on a book or classes or learning a practice at home, but all the research I've seen shows meditation and other practices don't cure anything they only reduce the need for medication.

    My own feeling is that people will get more out of a spiritual practice if they get their brain chemistry right through other means first, for example through diet and exercise, otherwise they might not get the effect they seek from spiritual practices. Many spiritual experiences are mediated through the brain.

    I don't see spiritual practices as a mental health treatment, I see them as a means to spiritual development and growth. So I have the opposite view from a lot of psychologists and doctors who are also in the spiritual arena. I think it is a bad match when people go to a spiritual school looking for solutions to their psychological problems. They should look elsewhere. The spiritual quest is fraught with dangers and people in a fragile condition are at heightened risk.

    I love what you said about coexist:

    Who is she referring to? I didn't hear the whole podcast but if you didn't ask, I think you should have.

    Regarding spiritual teachers who are creeps: My advice is that all spiritual teachers are human and should not be held up on a pedestal. People should not do anything with a spiritual teacher they would not do with any other person. It is unfortunate that people let themselves be fooled but it is also unfortunate that people don't realize that humans are humans even if they claim spiritual attainments. It ought to be part of the spiritual seeker culture to recognize that teachers are still humans and they should not be expected to be perfect and should not be trusted more than anyone else. My opinion is that a teacher who allows himself or herself to be presented as more than human is a faker and should be avoided. This should be on the inside cover of yoga magazine and other similar publications. It would help a lot of people but it might cut into the profits they make selling mystique.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  16. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Good article, Jim. Paedophilia is everywhere, in every religious denomination and none. As regards Catholic priests, could be there is actually a lower percentage of paedophiles amongst them than in the general population.

    Frankly, I was somewhat shocked by Alex's statement that the current pope should be taken as a paedophile by default; that he has to prove his innocence, not someone else prove his guilt. IMHO, if we lose the principle of the presumption of innocence, we lose an important part of our civilisation.
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
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  17. Alex

    Alex New

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    I didn't get that impression from hearing her story. I don't think she's a shyster. She's just a therapist. It's a tough job, and there's a huge need, but, and I think this may be what yr picking up on, the non-judgement-about-anything-that-might-upset-anyone, marshmallow thing quickly gets really old. then again, she did take a stand on a bunch of stuff... and let's get real, I pushed her buttons pretty hard :)
     
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  18. Alex

    Alex New

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    [/QUOTE]
    huge diff between court of public opinion and legal system.

    the pope has a lot of work to do if he wants to clear himself. else I shall judge (along with everyone else except the militant non-judgementalists).
     
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  19. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    Alex,

    I think too many of the recent podcasts have been so "Inside Baseball" that they don't mean much, for example:
    I think that clip illustrates how obscure these podcasts are becoming - particularly to foreigners like me!

    Maybe you need to agree a set of points that cover what a guest wants to say, and then have some sort of plan in front of both of you before you hit the record button! I mean for example, maybe there was an important point about teaching Buddhism to men on death row, but what was it?

    Conversely, if you put someone on from the Discovery Institute, you can have a straightforward discussion about the failure of Darwinian Evolution that leads to a totally non-materialist result - that life did not get on the Earth as a result of natural selection on its own - period. That really only leaves intelligence of some sort (it doesn't have to be Yaweh, and Berlinski belongs to the DI and describes himself as an atheist Jew). Those guys are knocking on the door of a huge scientific revolution!

    David
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2018
  20. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Come on, Alex. Laying the blame on some new group you've labelled "militant non-judgementalists" doesn't hack it. Jim's supplied some useful counter-evidence to your assertion. Who are the paedophiles the pope has surrounded himself with? I don't recall your saying. And since when has the "court of public opinion" meant so much? About anything? Darwinism, HIV, CAGW, and so on? Follow the evidence wherever it leads, right? Where's your evidence?
     

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