The Mindfulness Blog

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Round Pegs And Square Holes

Do mindfulness and meditation enhance or undermine traditional Western religion? Is there any intermeshing at all? That was the topic of discussion that followed my recent presentation to the Catholic Lawyers Guild of Chicago, and it was a fascinating dialogue.

The ladies and gentlemen who attended the "First Friday" of the month meeting were respectful, engaged and quite pointed in sharing their thoughts, many of which were informed by the very first question: Do mindfulness and meditation-- particularly, the secular meditation propounded by The Mindful Law Coaching & Consulting Group-- diminish or promote the presence of God?

A fair question, for a devote believer, and it was a question loaded with significance. It could have taken us in many different directions-- some doctrinaire, and some not so doctrinaire. I chose the latter, in large part because I was not raised in the Catholic faith, and am not steeped in its doctrines. That said, my response was (and remains), as follows: I would respectfully suggest that we must first learn to love and accept ourselves, before we can love another-- even if that other, is God.

Mindfulness and meditation can certainly help us get to know ourselves better, and that's an important step toward loving ourselves-- toward both caring for and about ourselves. They may not take us all the way to inviting the presence of God, but they're a pretty good start! Maybe that's where secular mindfulness and meditation end, and religious belief begins?

For purposes of this post (which only represents my own personal belief) I stop short of contemplating-- let alone, accepting-- the notion that there is a God. Rather, I focus exclusively on the thoughts the mind is thinking and the emotions that the body is feeling. Beyond that, I step back and let the theologians take over.

Recognizing thoughts and feelings, watching them with curiosity while not being ruled by them, and not evaluating them-- learning to let them pass, and thereby better manage them-- that's plenty for me. And it certainly doesn't foreclose the leap of faith that others choose to pursue.

Neither mindfulness nor meditation are a panacea for everything that ails us. I believe they exist along side of religious belief-- certainly not instead of religious belief. Heck, I believe they can even complement religious belief.

Viewed in the light suggested by the title of this posting, we don't need to impose traditional religious doctrine upon either mindfulness or meditation-- we certainly don't need to force any round pegs into a square hole!


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