The Psychological and Social Importance of Postures During Worship

Sheridan Wilbur and Patty Van Cappellen: Across all religions, people generally pray or meditate by standing, sitting, kneeling, or prostrating, often raising their hands or lowering their heads. These common postures fall into three main groups involving bowing or kneeling, reaching up, or neutral resting positions. But, given all the ways that human beings can position their bodies, why do people’s positions when praying or meditating fall into only three main types of postures? Based on theories and research about how the body and mind influence each other, Van Cappellen concluded that bodily positions relate to people’s religious and spiritual practices in five ways.

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