In response to my recent post entitled: Help me out: What does self-love actually mean? Simian raised the subject of ‘Mindfulness‘ which draws from Buddhist meditative traditions and is increasingly employed within the NHS in psychological therapies.
Simian posed this question:
Is this incompatible with being a Christian? I don’t know the answer. I’d be interested to know what people think.
I’ve never practiced Mindfulness, but know from Twitter conversations that some folk absolutely swear by its effectiveness.
Mindfulness forms a core component within Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) developed by Marsha M. Linehan, and is used especially in regard to Personality Disorders, and specifically Borderline Personality Disorder. On an aside, Linehan stunned the psychiatric world last year by ‘coming out of the closet‘ and declaring that she herself was a Borderline Personality.
In briefly researching the Christian position, I obviously encountered the general – and quite prevalent – Christian anti-psychology articles and movement, and some that objected to the Buddhist origins of Mindfulness specifically.
However, I was delighted to discover a blog called the Musings of a Christian Psychologist and he covers this very subject in two blog posts that I heartily recommend. Here’s some of what he has to say:
Some might suggest that engaging in practices that encourage openness, neutrality (which is a misrepresentation of Buddhist practices) open oneself up to the occult. Others might be suspicious of hidden, subtle belief systems (personal transformation vs. Spirit-led transformation). These are legitimate questions. And yet I contend that we do not need to reject these concerns to acknowledge that God has given all humans the capacity to observe and grasp concepts that are true and right–even if we might staunchly disagree with their personal philosophies. This does not mean we take a concept into our life and practices without considerable critical thinking, but it does mean we are open to learning something that our own tradition has lost, ignored, or deemed unnecessary to healthy living.
Interestingly, I also came across a website looking specifically at Mindfulness within DBT and cites the Scriptural Correlations. Here’s the introductory paragraph:
There are, for some, a reluctance to involve themselves in DBT thinking it to be drawing them to Buddhism, etc. or away from their religion; from the Christian standpoint…this does not hold true; it may be viewed that God gives us the necessary knowledge (or light) that we need in any current situation to overcome difficult life scenarios-as troubles increase so will knowledge: Rom 11:33 “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!”; 2Ch 1:12 “Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee”; 1Ti 2:4 “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” -in distressing situations, one might find it impossible to see the way to a healthy resolve; thus, God would want you to use any skills you might acquire to clear your mind and get yourself to a place where you can open that door to Him with clear thinking and calmness. DBT, while it does draw from Eastern meditative points of reflection, that is where the relationship ends. DBT in no way incorporates these Eastern/Buddhist meditative/reflective components to draw one to a certain religious path; rather, DBT merely uses some of the logic of those practices that, in proof via long-term evaluation conducted in careful studies, produces beneficial results in improving the quality of one’s life…and that is the mindset of the Christian, to improve the quality of the Christian way of life…and, DBT can help the Christian grow in faith in various ways.
As you can probably tell I’m in favour of Christians engaging with these practices, given that they’re reported to work and relieve suffering.
But Simian’s questions still stands; what do you think?