Spiritual Dangers of Reducing Stress through Eastern Methods | May 4th, 2023
Have you ever been under a lot of pressure, experienced a major change in your life, were worried about something out of your control, or felt overwhelmed with responsibilities? If so, you know what it’s like to experience stress. For some, it may take a lot to be affected by stress whereas others might find it stressful just to show up for an appointment on time.
While research shows that moderate, short-lived stress can have a positive effect by improving alertness, performance, and boosting memory, chronic stress can last for weeks, months, or even longer, negatively impacting every organ system of the body. It can contribute to serious health problems including digestive or sleep disorders, headaches, depression, anxiety, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Here are a few startling statistics from The American Institute of Stress (2022):
- Approximately one million Americans miss work each day due to stress
- 94% of workers report feeling stress at work
- 63% of workers report they’re ready to quit their job to avoid work-related stress
- Around 33% of people report feeling extreme stress
- 77% of people report feeling stress that negatively affects their physical health
- 73% of people report feeling stress that negatively impacts their mental health
Although none of us can escape feeling stress, it can be managed using the relaxation response by slowing our heart and breathing rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing our levels of stress hormones. Soaking in a warm bath, reading a book, gentle stretching, spending time with your pet, enjoying the outdoors in the sunshine, and listening to soothing music are all healthy ways to help your body relax.
Being in the fitness industry for many years, I have watched as Eastern healing practices have become mainstream as a way to promote relaxation for our stressed-out society. A few of these include meditation, Yoga, and Tai Chi which come from the Eastern religions of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Taoism.
When we hear about some of the benefits they provide including reducing stress, calming the mind, improving balance and coordination, and increasing strength and flexibility, it seems like these practices would be a good thing.
But if we take a deeper look, we discover they all have a dark spiritual side to them that conflicts with Christianity. It’s a side that aims in seeking personal divinity within to find your own inner peace and joy without Jesus Christ. It’s about detaching your mind, cutting off rational thinking and emotions so your mind will be empty to be able to be one with the universe.
Yoga is Hinduism
The word yoga means “to join, yoke, or unite.” The Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text, teaches that supreme joy comes to whoever practices Yoga because they become one with the Hindu god Brahman, the universal consciousness.
Each asana (pose) is intentionally designed to be an offering to honor the Hindu gods, invoking the spirits to help the participant reach enlightenment so they can become “God-like.” The familiar phrase often used to end yoga classes is “Namaste” meaning, “The divine in me bows to the divine in you.” Bowing to or showing respect to another false god is an act of idolatry. The Bible teaches that we are not gods and that we are only to bow to the one true God:
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Former Hindu guru Rabi Maharaj wrote in his autobiography Death of a Guru, “No part of Yoga can be separated from the philosophy behind it.”
As one professor of Yoga philosophy and meditation from the Hindu University of America in Orlando, Florida stated, “Yoga is Hinduism.”
Hinduism is completely incompatible with biblical Christianity. Therefore, if you are a believer in Christ you should have nothing to do with yoga. Instead, honor God by doing gentle, non-yoga stretches. If interested, here is a great video with which you can follow along:
Tai Chi is Taoism
Tai Chi is translated as “Supreme Ultimate” and is a martial art, though it is taught more often as a meditative, health-enhancing practice. It is often referred to as “moving meditation” because this mind-body form of exercise combines slow-flowing, intentional movements with breathing and visualization.
Tai Chi is practiced by about 20 percent of the world’s inhabitants and is quickly becoming one of the most popular forms of exercise, especially with an aging population. Tai Chi classes attract the elderly with its slow movements and balance work and are offered in many senior living communities, fitness centers, hospitals, and even in the evangelical church.
The foundation of Tai Chi is the Taoist belief in a universal energy called chi which is thought to be the energy force that gives life to all things. Taoism teaches that strengthening your inner chi through breathing techniques, meditations to help you enter into an altered state of consciousness, and movements of the body will bring good health, long life, and even immortality.
This is completely incompatible with God’s Word which tells us Jesus Christ, not an energy force, is the One who gives life to all things and holds everything together.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17
Taoism is a religion and a philosophy from ancient China with its own set of scriptures simply referred to as the “Tao” which comes from the character in the Chinese alphabet of the same name meaning “way” or “path.”
Although Tao means “way,” it is not the true Way. There is no other way to salvation except through Jesus Christ. He clearly tells us this in John 14:6: Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
In Taoism, there is no personal God or Creator. Everything originated from the Tao, an impersonal source or principle of creation. It provides no reason for our existence and is without purpose or direction. The Tao is a path that offers no hope, leading to death and separation from God.
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. Proverbs 14:12
God is Loving and Personal
The Taoist belief that there is no personal God is contrary to Christianity. Not only can we know about God, but we can also know Him intimately, just as we would know a good friend! We are His masterpiece and are so loved by Him. We were created to know Him and to have a close, personal relationship.
We can do this through reading God’s Word, our only reliable source of knowledge about who God is – His character and attributes, His promises, plans, and purposes, how we can serve Him, love Him, please Him, bring Him glory, and strengthen our faith in Him. This is how God communicates with us.
And we communicate with Him through prayer. We can give Him all of our burdens that cause us stress and in exchange, He will give us His perfect peace. When we spend time praising Him and giving Him gratitude, it is almost impossible to feel stressed at the same time!
The Holy Spirit helps guide us to pray for things that are in agreement with the will of God. As we receive His answers throughout our life, our love and trust in Him grow. He tells us in His Word that when we seek Him we will find Him when we seek Him with all our heart (Jeremiah 29:13). He desires to be close to us!
And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5:20
Meditation in Movement
Christians who practice Tai Chi place themselves in serious spiritual danger. Those who attempt to distance themselves from the philosophy of Tai Chi find that the techniques involved with “meditation in movement” can alter their state of consciousness regardless. With an emptied mind, which is also the goal of Eastern meditation through yoga and contemplative prayer practices, this opens them up to the danger of demonic influence and oppression.
Yin and Yang
The most well-known symbol from Taoism is the Chinese Yin and Yang. It is the philosophy that two opposite principles and forces are thought to exist in all things such as light and dark, good and bad, life and death. It is believed that opposites are needed in order for harmony to exist and for the chi (energy) to flow more harmoniously through the body when the Yin and Yang are balanced.
According to the Taoist Yin and Yang view, there is no good or bad but only what appears to be good or bad. Opposites contain the essence of each other and eventually merge. “Life and death are one, right and wrong are the same” (from the Chuang Tzu as quoted in World Religions).
The Bible teaches we are born sinners (bad) and can only be made righteous (good) by believing in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection for the atonement for our sin. God is not morally neutral. He is holy and righteous and we can only enter into His presence in eternity if we are also made holy and righteous by grace through our faith in Christ.
Jesus never taught that opposites are necessary for the other’s existence. Yin and Yang says you must have darkness to have light, yet Jesus is the Light of the world and in Him there is no darkness. Taoism’s Yin and Yang are a complete contradiction to God’s Word.
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
When you participate in Tai Chi, you are partaking in a spiritual belief system that is contradictory to God’s Word. As followers of Christ, we are not to conform to the world but be transformed and set apart, living in a way that is honoring to the Lord in ALL we do. We are commanded to be holy as He is holy!
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16
We have no need for what the world offers with its deceptive forms of inner peace and joy and a way that leads to death. God’s peace, given to us as believers, guards our heart and mind, transcending all understanding. And when we are on the true path of life in Christ, His presence will give us fullness of joy.
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