Mindfulness conference today


#1

So, I had a “nudge” today to post about this.

I work in a public school and a few months ago our Director of Curriculum put out a call for 5 people to go to a conference on Mindfulness that is being held at a local university near us. I have read a lot of information about Mindfulness and, in scanning the program, it was focused on helping our students to release stress and anxiety and focus on the positive of the moment. I have had success in my life in re-engaging with some Christ-centered mindfulness practices (i.e. the rosary, crochet, word puzzles, etc) and there is a lot of positive literature about mindfulness in general. I shot off a quick reply that I would be interested. I didn’t really expect to be chosen (as I am not a teacher, but rather the speech therapist who works to support both students and staff through both small group sessions for students and also by co-teaching classes with teachers for other types of students). Anyway, I got picked and I was pleased. As the time drew closer, however, I began to feel a bit of doubt. In reviewing some information on line, there are some very legitimate cautions to using mindfulness as a practicing Catholic.

So, I ask that you pray for me today, if you would be so kind. Pray for me that, even in this secular world where I can’t say His name, that I can still learn about and pass on any information that will help others to live in His present and to know their worth in His eyes. Pray for me, also, that I will be able to take what is pleasing to Him and leave what is not.

Thank you!


#2

I think you have the right attitude. I will pray for your intentions.

I am not familiar with the Mindfulness method. Is it like (or derived from) Buddhist or Hindu meditation?


#3

I appreciate it, thank you :wink:

So, there is a “secular meditation” movement that is gaining momentum for use in schools and workplaces around the country. In a nutshell, proponents say that this is NOT a religious practice and is designed to allow for moments of deep breathing and relaxation throughout the day in order to release stress and re-focus the energy that so often ends up in aggression towards others and/or self. Those who argue against mindfulness say that it is an attempt to bring subversive religious elements (Buddhism, Hinduism, New Age, etc) into public places and that the practice of focusing on self (centering) cannot be separated from certain religious practices (as above).

One thing not contested by anyone are the terrifying and (ironically, anxiety-producing) statistics on the number of people who are suffering from mental health disorders and the associated social and personal costs :frowning:


#4

The term “mindfullness” tends to be used by many different groups with significantly different philosophies and practices. Buddists do tend to use the term a lot, but so do some Montessori teachers. Since it’s a public school, I would suspect that purpose of the program is to learn to teach self-regulation skills such as how to recognize the signs that one is getting angry, frustrated, or upset and learning to calm oneself down. I highly doubt any of this is going to be contrary to the faith.


#5

Mindfulness I think is good depending how it’s used. It’s good to remind ourselves that we aren’t defined by our sins but by who we are, and we should be present in our lives today and not in the past


#6

I have had wonderful results in using mindfulness to combat anxiety and stress. There is nothing religious about the meditations I use. It is many times more effective than medication for many people.

I think it has the equivalent effect of what people who pray say their prayer time does for them. It is calming and provides a “re-set” of sorts to whatever the issues of the moment are that are causing one difficulty.

It is a skill I wish I had been taught as a child, and I think it is wonderful it is being recognized as a strategy for children to cope with the world they are living in.

Good on you for going. I haven’t experienced anything in my mindfulness meditation sessions that is contrary to Catholic teaching. I have heard the arguments, but they usually apply to other faith beliefs.


#7

The label is recent. The field of psychology had long studied stress and anxiety, in fact stress&anxiety is a field that many psychologists specialize in. To learn about it, for an educator or a normal person is edifying.

This is recent. Its place was taken by sports and physical exertion. Enough to say: a blue collar job together with a healthy life style should give plenty of good nights sleep and a healthy nervous system. (Anxiety is actually physical/cognitive).

“Meditation” without exercise is somewhat exquisite. I knew plenty of folks that lived to their 90’s and had routines like praying a rosary or tending to their garden that did them a world of good. Thus, meditation without healthy routines and life style can only produce certain results. I get gains from the rosary even when I’m overworked. I’m not much worried about meditation but struggling to keep with good habits.

Can meditation be a good habit in itself? Yes. But what exactly is meditation? It isn’t ‘focusing on self’, that is an object of meditation. Is breeding and taking a few minutes ‘off’ and making a habit of that meditation? Not necessarily. That’s a routine. Meditation would be thinking and focusing on an object (or the exercise of not thinking and not focusing). The exercise in itself, regarding thought and focus.

An attempt to bring, well, mindfulness into public places. The label mindfulness is an umbrella term, you’ll get both good and bad grouping under the label. Lately the trend is for researches to fuel their publications under the label, that formerly was just medical stress&anxiety / cognition. Western medicine had hardly explored eastern medicine, and mindfulness is also a label that resulted from the both schools of medicine meeting.

The main problem with the label is this: it’s a brand. And who’s to say you’re getting a good product from a brand with so many producers? Is there any quality-control to that brand, or quality control to the producers?

@therese1998 my only certainty from your writing is that you’'re perfectly able to distinguish good from bad. If all those attending courses in mindfulness had your kind of mind there needn’t be a worry on anyone’s mind.

And I prayed for you. God bless.


#8

One of my children sees a fiercely Catholic therapist. She employs mindfulness techniques all of the time for children dealing with ADHD, anxiety, sensory processing disorders, etc. These techniques help them control their anger, panic, and other uncertainties. I’ve used it to get through clinical depression.

It is a beautiful practice that is not only a part of our faith but can be readily secularized for a public school setting. Honestly, I think the secularists are missing out, though, because it’s wonderfully grounding for prayer. :wink:


#9

We Catholics can practice something better than mindfulness., it’s called recollection.

I suppose many people are not really familiar with the word or it’s practice among the Catholic faithful.


#10

Indeed. Our Lord at one point admonishes His disciples not to worry about tomorrow. ‘Sufficient to the day’ and all that.

And His teachings on sins of thought such as despair, lust and pride are very much in sync with the idea of mindfulness - awareness of the chatter in our heads, with the aim of not letting it overwhelm us.


#11

Personally I find the former helps with the latter. Greater awareness of what is going on within oneself naturally leads to greater awareness of the presence of the One who makes it possible for us to think and act and feel - and rest also.


#12

This is, indeed, the purpose behind the movement. The incidence of disciplinary referrals, bullying, fights, suspensions and self-harm among students has skyrocketed. Students are coming into Kindergarten without the tools of self-regulation necessary to settle down, learn, and apply that learning to be ready for the next thing to learn or the next grade. One in 5 children will have a mental health diagnosis (mostly anxiety/depression/OCD/etc) by the time they are 18. This is staggering and presents very serious and unique challenges for educators since a brain in FFF (freeze, flight, fight) mode is not available to learn. Departments of Education across the country are seeing these trends and all are desperate to find a way to support children to learn not just academics but self-regulation skills as well. Students who are not self-regulated are students who don’t learn. Students who don’t learn don’t pass state assessments. Students who don’t pass state assessments represent lost revenue for the schools.

The only argument I’ve heard against it is that focusing on yourself is not focusing on God. It teaches reliance on yourself and not on God. However, I think there is room both to include God in your meditation as well as to train yourself to be a more regulated person. I guess my question would be “do they have to be mutually exclusive?” Similarly, yoga is most often included in meditation programs and a lot of Christianity is uncomfortable with yoga. I really don’t have enough experience with yoga to say one way or the other.

I have, too :slight_smile: I use christian/catholic guided meditation, the rosary, crochet, embroidery and coloring. They have all been quite effective at taking away that “racing around on a hamster wheel” kind of feeling.


#13

Agreed…it’s like a re-start on your phone :wink:

I felt it was very edifying and I enjoyed it. I think the biggest hurdle won’t be “does it contradict my faith” but “how am I (we) going to convince the powers that be to fund, even minimally, the things we can do to at least get started?”

In this context, “meditation” appears to be labeling a practice of deep breathing, relaxation and concentrating on feeling the effects of same. Example “feel yourself relax, feel your breathing slow down, feel your heart rate slow down. With your inhale, breathe in calm. With your exhale, let out stress”. I’m not sure if I’m saying this right, but it’s more purposeful(?) than focusing on one thing or no thing. The purpose is to recognize the feelings of healthy self-regulation and to return your body to that state when you recognize you are out of that state. Not sure if that makes sense, but that’s what I got out of it, anyway…

With His guidance, I hope so :slight_smile: I appreciate your points about the label of mindfulness. It appears to mean different things in different contexts and so cautious open-mindedness (how’s that for an oxymoron :slight_smile: ) is a good practice when approaching such an umbrella term.

Thank you so much…I gather from your own writings that I don’t need to tell you how comforting and uplifting it is to be prayed for.

Yes, I have my own “fiercely Catholic” therapist as well, thank God :wink: She also helps me to employ mindfulness, imagery, the rosary, etc in combating my own PTSD symptoms. She has been such a help and an eye opener to me on the powerful positivity of mindfulness.

I very much agree!!!

well said!


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.