Type of Work

Research Paper - Limited Access

Publication Date



Research consistently shows that in times of stress, exercise and spirituality are two places where people look to improve their physical and mental wellbeing. In particular, clinical and psychological research suggest that mindfulness practices help relieve stress in both daily life and following traumatic events. Through the analysis of yoga and meditation practitioners’ contemplative experiences, this study further investigates the relationship between distress and spirituality, identifying the ways in which yoga and meditation not only exercise the physical body but the mind. Practitioners suggest that yoga released their mental tension by first releasing physical tension. At the same time, mindfulness and meditation teach mantras that encourage self-love and acceptance. Using the strategies from these two areas, practitioners applied their physical and mental techniques to mitigate specific stressful situations off the mat. It is important to note that practitioners said yoga and meditation did not get rid of their stress, but rather showed them different ways of approaching and responding to their stress. Furthermore, people who cited extreme stress or trauma spoke about yoga and meditation as spiritual practices that helped them feel connected in their beliefs and work through times of struggle. Contemplative practices however did not directly result in a connection to spirituality or promote specific religious beliefs.

Hamilton Areas of Study


Hamilton Sponsoring Organization

Levitt Public Affairs Center

Hamilton Scholarship Series

Levitt Summer Research Fellowship

Hamilton Faculty Advisor

Jaime Kucinskas