The Morality of Mindfulness Meditation

Hey everyone. I am wondering about Mindfulness Meditation. It is supposed to be very good for your health. It is supposed to reduce stress. However, since this is an Eastern practice and many Eastern practices are immoral and/or incompatible with the Catholic faith, I have to wonder if Mindfulness Meditation is moral and compatible with the Catholic faith and teachings or not. I would appreciate any feedback and information this.

Mediation that is not directed towards God can be either self-directed or devil-directed. In either case, it’s not a good thing. Self-directed is the least offensive, IMHO. It’s no worse than mindlessly watching TV. But seeking the “other” without that other being God is spiritually dangerous.

What Della said.

If you find yourself in a mindfulness session - suppose there’s one as part of a compulsory staff training day at your work, or something - and it isn’t obviously anti-Christian such as to make you feel you should conscientiously object, then you can always do the breathing exercises etc but replace the phrases you are supposed to think about with something God-directed. That way you will get the relaxation, etc, and some spiritual benefit as well. :slight_smile:

Yes. :slight_smile: A prayer that can be easily breathed in and out is: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Or the Hail Mary, or some other appropriate prayerful phrase.

one of the best Spiritual Directors in our Archdiocese Directs a Mindfulness program.
He teaches from a decidedly Catholic perspective in all that he does.
I would find out more about who is directing this and what level of Spirituality they incorporate into it.
I first went to him when my first husband committed suicide. All of the therapists that the priest recommended told me that my faith was my problem. :eek:
When I found the Catholic therapist, everything fell into place.
He turned out to be one of my Theology professors a year later.

Do some more research.

I think any notion of morality depends on how you approach mindfulness meditation. If a Catholic is convinced that it is somehow not compatible with their faith, then by all means they should seek out some other means of health and healing.

I suffer from low back pain, an injury from my years working in construction. I see mindfulness meditation as a tool for healing. It does not replace any of my Catholic prayers and devotions, such as the rosary. I look at it more like medicine. If I doctor prescribed a medication, I would not refuse it just because I knew it was developed with the help of an atheist or a practitioner of the eastern religions.

John Kabat-Zinn is a well known proponent of mindfulness meditation, and though he is Buddhist, he maintains, through his affiliation with the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, that mindfulness can be effectively practiced by people of any religion or no religion at all. I have come to agree with him. When I’ve read his writings and encounter something peculiarly Buddhist that is in conflict with my understanding as a Catholic, I simply tell myself, “That is his understanding, it is not mine.”

I can tell you that mindfulness meditation has helped me, either to shorten my episodes of pain, or to endure them with less anxiety. As a Catholic, when I am mindful of my breathing for example, I find I am I also mindful of God, my loving Father, the very source of my breath and healing. That is my experience, and I hope it helps some.

If you are not happy with an Eastern meditation, then perhaps an Eastern Orthodox meditation might be better for you: Saying the Jesus Prayer.

If you do go down that route, then please take note of Bishop Ware’s warning:

Bishop Kallistos Ware has sound advice for those who simply can’t find a suitable guide. “But those who have no personal contact with starets [a teacher] may still practice the Prayer without any fear, so long as they do so only for limited periods - initially, for no more than ten or fifteen minutes at a time - and so long as they make no attempt to interfere with the body’s natural rhythms.”

There are also non-religious versions of Mindfulness Meditation available if you look.

Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation can be as simple as just observing (not controlling) your breathing:

“Mindful, he breathes in, and mindful, he breathes out. He, thinking, ‘I breathe in long,’ he understands when he is breathing in long; or thinking, ‘I breathe out long,’ he understands when he is breathing out long; or thinking, ‘I breathe in short,’ he understands when he is breathing in short; or thinking, ‘I breathe out short,’ he understands when he is breathing out short.”

– Satipatthana sutta, Majjhima Nikaya 10

Practised at that level there would appear not to be any clash with Catholic morality.


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