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Growing concerns over 'mindfulness' entering schools

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Mindfulness is gradually becoming a popular relaxation method for individuals, employers, health services, and now possibly schools.

A Westminster Hall debate on 'Mindfulness in schools' took place on Tuesday 6th September. Conservative MP Edward Timpson, Minister for Vulnerable Children and Families, told MPs that mandatory lessons in mindfulness should become a "normal part of the school day".

Mindfulness, as a practice, is rooted in the thoughts and practices of Buddhism, and is defined as the 'mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment'.

The urge for a 'mindful' nation

'Mindful Nation UK', a Parliamentary report released last year, addressed issues around mental health in areas such as education and the workplace. The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on mindfulness called on the government, as a first step, to designate three schools to "pioneer mindfulness teaching, co-ordinate and develop innovation, test models of replicability and scalability and disseminate best practice."

The APPG, which is chaired by Tim Loughton MP and Jess Morden MP, also proposed a £1 million fund to cover the costs of training teachers in mindfulness.

The Christian response to mindfulness

Dr Peter Jones of truthXchange has commented previously on mindfulness classes being integrated into school timetables. He describes the notion as, "brain-washing the rising generation into adopting as normal the pagan belief that all is one and that distinctions like good and evil, male and female are no longer useful in the global culture of the future."

Watch Dr Peter Jones discuss the dangers of mindfulness in this video

Dr Joe Boot, Director of the Wilberforce Academy, has previously defined mindfulness as "a Buddhist meditative technique." He suggests that the practice has become popular due to the public's increasing awareness of one’s sinful nature.

"The challenge society faces when Christ’s gospel is rejected is, how are man’s fears and anxieties, evil thoughts, desires and destructive impulses to be addressed and overcome? In keeping with the overall direction of Western cultural life in this century, our social order has been turning back to paganism for answers. A conspicuous example of this is the sweeping popularity, in every stratum of society, of Mindfulness meditation."

Dr Boot argues that the real answer to overcome our fears and anxieties is found in the salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

"The cure for our anxiety, fears and evil desires is not the cessation of self. The cure is in facing ourselves and our sins, and by repentance and faith being reconciled to God. In fellowship with God through Jesus Christ, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, where perfect love casts out fear." 

Increasing acceptance of mindfulness

A documentary movie titled 'Walk With Me', which follows Buddhist monks and nuns who have dedicated their lives to the practice of Mindfulness, is due for release later this year.

The Christian Legal Centre has already been contacted by worried parents regarding mindfulness being imposed on school children.

Serious negative reactions

There is an upcoming prevalence survey by the Department of Health, due in 2018, that will look at the mental health and emotional well-being of children and young people in the UK. This action reflects the severity of the issues surrounding mindfulness, and the aim to enforce it in schools across the UK.

One researcher, David Shapiro of the University of California, carried out a study in 1992 into Mindfulness and meditation retreats. His findings showed that 63% of those examined suffered at least one negative effect, and 7% suffered serious negative effects, including panic and depression. More recently, a number of people who have participated in Mindfulness have voiced their adverse experiences of mindfulness, reporting these same feelings of panic, depression, and anxiety.  

Related Links: 
Mindfulness in Schools (Parliament) 
Is mindfulness making us ill? (Guardian)
Mindfulness can cause panic, depression and anxiety, participants report  
Mindfulness or the mind of Christ
Mindful Nation UK Report (2015) (The Mindfulness Initiative)