Mindfulness is Simply Buddhism by a Different Name

September 1, 2015 at 11:17 AM

Mindfulness allegedly teaches people/students to be focused, to pay attention on purpose.

Mindfulness allegedly teaches people/students to be focused, to pay attention on purpose.

If you haven’t heard of it, you may want to familiarize yourself with what is known is “mindfulness” or Mindfulness of Purpose. It is a set of exercises used in school classrooms (and elsewhere) that endeavors to help students become more focused or “purposeful” in their approach to school work and life itself. In fact, “being focused” or “becoming aware of your surroundings” are catch phrases that are often associated with mindfulness.

Students are normally directed through a set of exercises led by some type of instructor (usually a teacher). The process – to an outside observer – very much resembles some type of meditative practice such as Yoga. During the exercise, students are guided by the instructor and you might see or hear something like the following.

“Take a deep breath into your belly. As you breathe in and breathe out, notice that your breath is going to be stronger in a certain part of your body. Maybe it’s your belly, your chest, or your nose. We’ll begin with trying to count to 10 breaths.”

“There was silence but for the hiss of the 5 train pulling into the station, the clunk of garbage cans, the faint siren of a police car.

“If you get lost in thought, it’s okay. Just come back and count again. Whether you get up to 10 or not doesn’t really matter. It’s just a way to focus [your] mind.”

The person who first coined the term “mindfulness” was Jon Kabat-Zinn, a biologist who, in the 1970s identified mindfulness as a “state of mind: the act of ‘paying attention on purpose’ to the present moment, with a ‘non-judgmental’ attitude.” Who wouldn’t want to live like that? The goal is certainly a good one.

Unfortunately for parents and students alike, mindfulness is “a secular philosophy and set of techniques adapted from thousands-of-years-old Buddhist meditation traditions—ones that only recently landed in mainstream Western consciousness.” Kabat-Zinn first employed the practice of “mindfulness” in medicine in what was called the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program and used to help patients suffering from chronic pain. Over time, it simply became known as mindfulness and has now found its way into schools.

Mindfulness took up root in California’s educational system and has spread from that point. The argument has been that there has always been a connection between emotional imbalance in students (and people) and poor life choices. Mindfulness seeks to balance this by creating harmony within the individual by positioning them to focus intently on the present.

Unfortunately for proponents of mindfulness, there is a serious dearth of research on the subject and its alleged effects. Because of this, schools that utilize mindfulness are doing what they can to find the research.

As one teacher (and mindfulness instructor) stated, his goal “is to give students some very simple and basic tools so they can learn to self regulate. That’s the beginning and end of it.” But the question is while tenets or techniques related to mindfulness may bring about positive results, if they are connected to a religion, shouldn’t parents have the final say and just as importantly, should aspects of Buddhism be taught in the public schools?

There are many who see connections and comparisons between mindfulness, Buddhism, Yoga, and contemplative prayer. Even Huffington-Post states the following regarding Mindfulness:

“Mindfulness has its origins in contemplative practices that go back thousands of years, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Stoicism. Some of these are religious traditions, and some are not.”

Is this a form of religion without actually teaching religion?

Is this a form of religion without actually teaching religion?

People too often prefer to divorce contemplative practices like meditation, silencing your mind, etc., from religion, believing only that Yoga, mindfulness, and other practices are simply exercises that help people achieve a relaxed or focused state of mind. They do not necessarily see these things as connected to the metaphysical, religious and/or spiritual realm at all. For people who think that way, Mindfulness then is simply an exercise that one enters into to help regulate breathing in order to become more focused and intentional.

Yet, there are many aspects of Yoga for instance that bring about a metaphysical response within the practitioner. There is also the subject of chakras that are associated with metaphysical meditation like that practiced in Mindfulness.

But what are chakras? Essentially, they are forms of energy.

“In yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda, this term refers to wheels of energy throughout the body. There are seven main chakras, which align the spine, starting from the base of the spine through to the crown of the head. To visualize a chakra in the body, imagine a swirling wheel of energy where matter and consciousness meet. This invisible energy, called Prana, is vital life force, which keeps us vibrant, healthy, and alive.”

Some have gone so far as to state that the Bible implicitly teaches about the chakras and that we need to be aware of their presence, what they do, and how we can use them achieve greater depths of understanding between ourselves and God. But these people see a coming spiritual oneness that the Bible also speaks of (though not in good terms).

Others, who are see themselves as Christians understand the term chakra differently than that explained in the previous paragraph. “A chakra is a spiritual “power point” used in Yoga and Eastern mysticism. The word chakra describes one element in a highly complex system of thought about the energies of the body.

They go on to state the following (which includes a warning) about chakras.

“The real danger of belief in the chakras is in the spiritual overtones connected to it. The chakras are central to a meditation technique known as Kundalini, which literally means ‘that which is coiled.’ Kundalini is also the name of a goddess. The belief is that Kundalini is a divine force which resides at the base of the spine and, when ‘awakened,’ travels up the spine (the central Nadi) and through each chakra until it reaches the crown of the head. Along the way, this uncoiling “goddess” brings spiritual awareness to the individual. When it reaches the uppermost chakra, this force is said to generate an ineffable, highly mystical experience.”

Ultimately then, the question needs to be addressed as to whether or not Mindfulness is simply pursuit of energizing and aligning the chakras under a different name. Since many of the techniques between Buddhism and Mindfulness appear to connect or are at least similar, it should cause Christians to want to ask more questions about Mindfulness.

The unfortunate plain fact of the matter is that the reason this can be taught in schools is due to the fact that it is not classified as religious. Nonetheless, in many respects, there are most definitely religious components and that should give parents (and Christian teachers) reason to question it.

Entry filed under: Eastern Mysticism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

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