Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Mindful? More Like Mind-Empty

I've meditated just about all my life. As a Catholic, I learned about ways to enter a deeply restful, soul-enhancing state, that impacted my daily life afterwards.

It's called prayer. It can involve reading and meditation on what you have read, both spontaneous and structured prayers, using artifacts, such as candles, scent, or rosaries, and can be solitary or involving a larger group (such as in retreats).

This, apparently, is not anything like those practices. It's being used in many schools, at taxpayer expense.

Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn is a professor of molecular biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He founded the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society in 1995. Previously, in 1979, he founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic. He sold rather pricey CDs and other resources at the link to the Center.

He studied with Buddhist teachers, and founded the Cambridge Zen Center. He is a practioner of yoga. Although his theory on Mindfulness was based on his Buddhist studies,
He removed the Buddhist framework and any connection between mindfulness and Buddhism, instead putting MBSR in a scientific context.
 His Wikipedia has this eye-opening information:
Kabat-Zinn is married to Myla Zinn, the daughter of Roslyn and Howard Zinn
 Here's a transcript of an interview with Anderson Cooper.

One big attraction, for the secular-minded, is that Mindfulness is often called Buddhism, without the Buddha. By divorcing the practice from the religion, adherents hope to be able to bring it into schools, businesses, and other corporate entities, without triggering complaints about church-state interference. And, that is a downside, for Buddhists.

It's a common quest for the Modern Age - to find peace and harmony in one's life, without all that icky religion-y stuff. Like the Buddhists, Hindus also disparage the de-linking of the practices of their faith from the religion. Many have tried to de-God yoga, but, to Hindus, this misses the point of the practice. You do not copy the movements to reach spiritual bliss - you do it to reach out to your deity (whether singular or plural).

Some have pointed out the irony of using a practice embedded in religion to further secular aims.
this snack-sized approach won’t sort people out, it will only ever be a sticking plaster if the root cause of the stress isn’t being addressed. Twenty minutes of inhaling in a boardroom is pointless if a lawyer is going back out on the floor to complete a 16-hour day, endlessly interrupted by emails. It also jars that an essentially peaceful practice is being used to help train soldiers to kill with greater precision, as well as cope with debilitating PTSD at the other end of combat. What would Buddha say?
More importantly, for most Americans, what would Jesus say?

If you want to start meditation, you can start small - a 3-Minute Retreat daily.  You can work up to praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

Some thoughts about, and some links to, Catholic Meditation.

An app I've used for some time is Laudate, which I have loaded on my IPhone. It's especially nice, as I can carry it around everywhere, without adding weight to my totebag. I've used other apps, but keep coming back to this.

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