It has become even more frequent to go into a school gym and see students in the lotus flower position, or lying on a tatami mat with their eyes closed and with silly smiles on their faces practicing mindfulness.
During the last years, hundreds of manuals concerning this have been published and conferences, retreats, and talks about mindfulness have multiplied, presenting it as a compliment to prayer or as a way of dealing with anxiety or stress.
Unfortunately, this has extended even to the Church and we can find these techniques practiced in retreat houses and even taught as school subjects.
On October 15, 1989 the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith warned about some aspects of Christian Meditation in a letter directed to Catholic bishops.
Certain “Eastern methods,” or non-Christian practices of meditation, have proliferated in the Catholic sphere to enhance prayer. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (2726) has warned against “erroneous notions of prayer” that consider it a “simple psychological activity” or “an effort of concentration to reach a mental void.”
“To avoid falling into syncretism” (Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation), a careful revision of these practices should be undertaken to avoid causing confusion among the faithful and not divert prayer from it true objective, which is to encounter Christ, not the relaxation or mere calming of the senses.
Anthony E. Clark, professor of East Asian History has affirmed, “When one understands well the intentions of Christian prayer and mindfulness, it is clear that, at their root, they point in contrasting directions.” Buddhist meditation centers on the self, while Christian meditation centers on God. “Mindfulness” is the latest great trend of “Eastern Meditation” and New Age that has taken hold of the West and been popularized by Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Often, there is an attempt to hide and disregard its spiritualistic connotation under the mask of therapy against stress, anxiety, pain, and a thousand other things, but it undeniably has its origin in Buddhism. Jon Kabat has affirmed that this technique is at the heart of Buddhist meditation because of its connection to Zen meditation and Vipassana. As a matter of fact, it represents the seventh step in the Noble Eightfold Path, which Buddhists consider as part of the process of reaching Nirvana.
Buddhist spirituality has been greatly esteemed by the New Age with particular relevance to the development of its pseudo-religious syncretism, since it lacks faith in a personal and Creator God on whom we depend and before whom we should place our freedom to choose.
New Age has used Buddhism and its mediation techniques as an instrument to bring to completion the plans of the new stage in which one finds himself: “No to religion and yes to mysticism,” and in which one attempts to “kill” a sense of the divine and respect for God. As a matter of fact, in 1970, a third interdisciplinary seminary about New Age developed in Esalen (California, USA), which discussed the topic of how to spread Orientalism in the West through gurus, music, education and yoga. It is precisely from this time on when Mindfulness began to appear in the West, spreading like wildfire.
WHAT DOES IT ENTAIL?
Mindfulness consists of a series of relaxation and concentration techniques through which one seeks to obtain an active state of attention in the present moment, and in which a person observes his or her breathing, bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings without judging them as good or evil. It means carrying out a process of observation without making judgments; being aware of that which one is conscious of but without judging.
In its practice, it entails focusing one’s attention on breathing, concentrating on it, and accepting each one of the sensations and thoughts that come to us when we are still and concentrated, mentally taking note of them, but letting them go without doing anything about it.
Expert Buddhists like Bhikkhu Bodhi have affirmed that what is being practiced in the West is not in reality mindfulness; rather, naked attention, since there is no ethic component involved. Five to ten minutes is enough to observe the way in which we breathe and the subtlest sensations produced by our body. The important thing is not to react in any way, limiting oneself to being aware of all of this. This is what we should try to bring to daily life: being aware of what happens in each moment and only that, concentrating all of our attention on it, not placing importance on anything else, and without considering what one is thinking or doing.
Even though this practice may seem inoffensive, it certainly provokes serious disorders. To give a few examples, it may be noted that in the last ten years so-called Mindfulness has flourished in Spain as an applied therapy in numerous environments, principally personal and work ones. In the Redacción Médica (Medical Essay), Laura Díez talks about it. In the face of the boom of this practice, many experts have wanted to remark about its real situation and warn about the possible risks that could be brought about with its unlimited expansion.
In a study completed by the Institute of Psychiatry and Mental Health in the Clinical Hospital San Carlos, 75 articles have come to light about how the practice of Reiki, concentrative meditation techniques with mantras, Zen, Yoga, and Mindfulness lead to altered states of consciousness with serious neurophysiological complications.
62.9% of those who practice it experience negative effects such as anxiety and panic crisis caused by relaxation, paradoxical tension reactions, a lack of vital motivation, pain, a distorted perception of reality, confusion and disorientation, feelings of being displaced, depression, negativity, light dissociation, guilty feelings, psychotic symptoms, euphoria, destructive behavior, suicidal feelings, a sense of helplessness, fear, irritability, worries and despair, depersonalization, exacerbation of obsessive and schizoid traits, acute psychosis with polymorphous symptomology, relapse into pre-existing psychotic disorders, epileptic crisis, etc.
Tim Lomas, a psychologist from London, affirms that in some of his patients, mindfulness “made them aware of their anguish but unable to deal with it, and consequently found that meditation was not only useless, but also counterproductive.”
A negative psychological effect that is connected to the practice of mindfulness is what has been called a spiritual by-pass, which involves having recourse to spirituality and its practices in order to escape from daily problems in life by deceiving oneself or not resolving personal conflicts, which would be more adequate to resolve using other methods such as psychotherapeutic treatment. Using spirituality to avoid feeling pain and the negative aspects of one’s own personality is an increasingly common practice in an attempt to not come out of one’s own comfort zone. Our culture is programmed to avoid pain, deny it and despise it. The conscience and spiritual development are often used to avoid pain and our true needs.
Some patients, after having practiced the technique, have experienced intense emotional reactions (sobbing, shouting, “becoming hysterical”). These are documented cases, where the emergence of unpleasant or even traumatic childhood memories interfere in a negative way in the therapeutic process (Myers Owens, 1994).
Among other adverse effects in the practice of mindfulness that have been documented (Walsh & Roche, 1979; Epstein & Lieff, 1981; McGee, 2008) is the exacerbation of mental disorders or the onset of psychopathological alterations in people who are involved in an intense practice of meditation. These effects could be caused by a greater selfconsciousness in the practice of selfobservation and a reduction of mental barriers through relaxation caused by meditation. These factors could favor the emergence of underlying problems in the person who practices this technique, and as a consequence, trigger the onset of psychopathological problems.
Susan Brinkmann, an expert on this topic and an ex-feminist that has abandoned New Age, has published a book concerning this topic: “A Catholic Guide to Mindfulness.” In it, she warns about the dangers of this latest trend of Eastern Meditation. Among other things, she affirms: “There is mounting scientific concern regarding the mainstream media only touting studies that found benefits of mindfulness and not reporting on studies that found negative results from the practice.”
Some studies show that with its practice people can disconnect instead of concentrating and committing to critical thinking concerning problems that require concentration and assessment to be able to resolve them.
MASONIC PESTILENCE IN THE CLASSROOM
I have investigated this technique and have found the places in Spain where it has extended the most. In some cases, it has been required in schools by government agencies, precisely in independent communities where masonry has had a greater influence.
Approximately 200 public Spanish schools have incorporated mindfulness in its school schedule. One example of this is Ramiro Soláns School in Saragossa, in which teachers and students practice meditation after recess for some 15 minutes. The Canarian Government has introduced an obligatory and assessable subject for the first time called Emotional Education, where students are obliged to practice this Buddhist technique. In other independent [Spanish] communities such as Aragon, there exists Programa Aulas Felices (Happy Classrooms Program), the Programa Treva in Catalan, or Escuelas Conscientes (Awareness Schools) in the Valencian Community. In Andalusia, Catholic schools have joined the trend, even though it is not the only place. Ignorance is the mother of danger.
I continued to investigate and found the following: “Aware of the importance of the pure attention practice as a means of inner fulfillment, the Respectable Hermes Lodge No. 13 in Madrid, Spain places in the hands of all Masons, supplementary materials for the meditative practices mentioned on this web.”
“Such practices form part of the historical traditional heritage of the operative masonry and make up one of the most powerful instruments to shift from virtual initiation communicated in the lodge, to an effective initiation; that is, an experience of the sacred or transcendent. Such practices have been adapted to the most recent format possible, compatible with traditional principles” (mason33.com).
These practices include: bodily relaxation before meditation, pure attention in breathing meditation, pure attention of bodily sensations meditation; in a word, plain and simple mindfulness. I would advise you to not waste your time in listening to them. If you want “strong emotions,” turn to St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Ignatius of Loyola, and above all, Jesus Christ.
In summary, what they are looking for is: the removal of the Catholic Religion from classrooms; the imposition of Buddhist philosophy, greatly esteemed by Masons, the great enemy of Jesus Christ and the Church; that students, from the time that that are small, do not think and that they become accustomed to not placing importance on something as significant as moral judgments; a careless population that can be manipulated 100%.
Article contributed by Sr. Estela M. Morales, SHM
Published with permission from HM Magazine - ©HM Magazine; nº201 March-April 2018
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