MINDFULNESS: GETTING BUDDHISM INTO THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

MINDFULNESS: GETTING BUDDHISM INTO THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

I just received a letter from a third-grade public school teacher in another state asking about the program called “Mindfulness.” She is being strongly encouraged to incorporate this into her classroom, and she wanted my advice. Mindfulness is a meditation program that has been increasingly promoted in public schools over the past several years. In 2012, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio published a book entitled, A Mindful Nation, and has received a $1 million federal grant to teach mindfulness in schools in his home district. Mindfulness is self-examination of your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and emotions with no judgment of whether they are right or wrong. The question for the Christian is: is this biblical?

Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhism (Google it!). Its promoters readily admit the Buddhist background. They claim, however, that the practice of mindfulness has been adapted for secular purposes. In order to promote mindfulness, teachers tell their students to spend a short amount of time sitting quietly and observing their breath and thoughts.

Because there is no single group or institution overseeing mindfulness in education, nobody knows exactly how many teachers have incorporated it into their classrooms or how they’re doing it. The nonprofits, MindUP™ and Mindful Schools, say they’ve seen a steady increase in the number of teachers seeking their guidance in recent years. MindUP™ says it’s reached 500,000 students worldwide over the last decade, and Mindful Schools says it’s reached 300,000 students in the U. S. alone in the past few years.

Back to our question, “Is mindfulness meditation biblical?” The word, mindful, which means attentive, is not describing anything inherently wrong. Christians should be mindful. But Christian meditation is always focused on Scripture, not on ourselves. Eastern meditation is about emptying one’s self, whereas biblical meditation is about filling one’s mind with God’s words. Mindfulness, as promoted in the public schools and used as a meditation technique, is not biblical. It is simply Buddhism wrapped in secular psychology.

by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor