Sunday, October 11, 2015

Move over Christian prayer, here comes Mindfulness

The October 6 issue of JAMA explores the promise of mindfulness as medicine.

Mindfulness is. . . Buddhism.  It’s being welcomed with open arms (and money) in public institutions that would never permit instruction in prayer or Christian meditation.

Mindfulness is a Buddhist concept and practice, the seventh step of the Eightfold Path. Mindfulness is more than a meditative practice; it is an outlook on life and reality that ideally results from a type of meditation designed to cultivate detachment. Detachment in Buddhism is necessary, because Buddhism teaches that attachment to this world, to your thinking, to your identity as an individual self, and other attachments, such as desires, keep you in the cycle of rebirth.

Buddhism holds that the self does not exist, and identification with the self keeps you in that cycle of rebirth. Therefore, to achieve liberation from this cycle, one must break the attachment, so detachment is necessary. Mindfulness is the method, and detachment with ultimate liberation is its goal. Mindfulness is often defined as a moment-by-moment nonjudgmental awareness of the present. For many years, this writer attempted to incorporate mindfulness into her life prior to becoming a Christian.

Though thoroughly Buddhist, mindfulness has been heavily promoted to the secular world by Jon Kabat-Zinn (b. 1944), a Zen Buddhist, whose book, Wherever You Go, There You Are, brought him into the public eye; and by Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926), a Zen Buddhist from Vietnam whose books have enjoyed great success in the West. Both lecture around the United States. Read more:

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