Mindfulness Without Religion

Over the past several years, the concept of "mindfulness" has been gaining traction in the Western world. Mindfulness is often described as a form of meditation which is based on Buddhist spiritual teachings. Yet mindfulness can easily be practiced without religion.

Perhaps mindfulness is best described as simply turning your attention to the present moment. Mindfulness encourages you to observe your thoughts without judgment, pay closer attention to your surroundings and listen to the messages your body is sending. Mindfulness is stopping to smell the roses and pausing to appreciate your accomplishments.

In psychology, this awareness of the present has been used to create therapeutic treatments, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Practicing mindfulness has been shown to lessen anxiety and depression, improve happiness and sleep, encourage self-awareness, enhance compassion and much more.

Mindfulness has also been shown to improve academic performance, which has led many schools to consider ways to incorporate these techniques in the classroom. Yet some parents are reportedly concerned that mindfulness may be religion in disguise. They don't want their children practicing religion in school, especially if that religion is different than their own.

By labeling mindfulness as a religious practice, people may miss out on the many benefits that it offers. And, in the case of mindfulness, the religious label is unnecessary.

Buddhists may practice mindfulness, but mindfulness itself is not a religion. Those who pray may incorporate aspects of mindful meditation, but mindful meditation itself is not a form of prayer.

At its heart, mindfulness is simply observing. It is accepting yourself and the world around you for what it is, without judgment.

On a physical level, mindfulness is also slowing down. It is giving your body and mind the rest it needs to perform at your optimal health.

There are many ways to practice mindfulness. Often, they involve getting in touch with your basic senses. Here are just a few examples:
  • Eat a meal without conversation or other distractions like books or your smartphone. Eat slowly, taking the time to look at your food, feel its texture, smell its aroma and savor its taste. 
  • Take a walk by yourself, without your iPod. Look at the details of your surroundings, listen to the sound of your footsteps and feel the rhythm of your breath and heartbeat.
  • Find a comfortable seat in a quiet room where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and observe the sensations in your body. Observe your thoughts without judgment or engagement.
While mindfulness may be a part of some spiritual traditions, it can also be practiced without a belief in god. Its many benefits show that mindfulness may simply be a valuable part of a healthy lifestyle. No religion required.


2 comments:

  1. Feel free to download the following meditations for your personal use. They are intended to guide you through the first phase of mindful self-compassion training. mindfulness

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  2. Mindfulness is the name of practice of ‘being fully present in the moment’. It will a different sort of awareness to the ‘automatic pilot’ that we will so often immersed in , like when we will drive or walk and don’t notice the details of the journey because we will lose in thought. It can often be very difficult to be ‘in the moment’ as we are very easily become distracting by what is going on around us or by our own thoughts. Thank you very much for your great post.

    Kirpal Singh Successor

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