On November 15th, Lighthouse Trails posted an article titled “What You Need to Tell Your Local Public School Officials About Children and Mindfulness Meditation”which stated that a woman who called the LT office shared her concerns about her local public school that was going to be bringing in a program to teach children mindfulness meditation. The woman was being given a 5-minute slot of time to talk at an upcoming school board meeting. The woman did speak to the school board, and with her permission, we are posting her talk below. We hope you will find this helpful in your own efforts to protect children in schools, churches, ministries, and organizations (all places you will find mindfulness meditation being promoted).
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for this time to speak. My name is __________. I reside at _____________________, USA.
You have heard a persuasive sales pitch [for mindfulness meditation]; the pros of the purchase have been highlighted, the cons minimized or ignored. You are about to sign on the dotted line when your friend quietly utters the words “buyer beware.” You hesitate because those words are causing you to mentally tap the brakes and slow down! You wonder, “Have I carefully and thoroughly examined and tested this purchase? If not, the consequences can be great: hidden defects; lack of quality; poor performance.” You drop the pen and walk away, giving the purchase more time to consider.
I wish that the district had had a friend utter those words to it before it signed on the dotted line and purchased mindfulness. Right now, mindfulness is like a new car sitting in the district’s parking lot; people are standing around admiring it, but I am standing in the crowd, looking at it with a critical eye, knowing things that I hope will cause you to reconsider your purchase before you fuel it up and get it on the road!
Mindfulness is the car that has yet to be road tested here, but with a shiny paint job. Enthusiastic supporters have presented it a secular, harmless practice for health and wellness, pointing to claims of studies and sharing anecdotal stories that make you eager to try it. Like the paint job, it looks so good! However, mindfulness is not secular, has not proven harmless but sometimes dangerous, and its effects on neurophysiology, largely uncharted.
Mindfulness is not secular. Research shows mindfulness is a Buddhist meditation exercise. Historically and presently, it is bound to the religious context of Buddhism which teaches of the divine within encountered via such practices that alter one’s state of consciousness. To engage in mindfulness is to engage in a religious practice. Many are unaware that it is such as the man credited with bringing it to the U.S. packaged it so as not to offend or arouse Western sensibilities.
Directing staff and students to participate in a religious exercise is a violation of their civil and religious liberties. The ACLU writes, “Teachers and school administrators, when acting in those capacities, are representatives of the state, and in those capacities, are themselves prohibited from encouraging or soliciting student religious . . . activity.”
Mindfulness has not proven harmless; respected sources list possible dangerous effects. Author Mary Wylie writes, “. . . meditation isn’t without risks of its own. [It has been] marketed as a kind of warm bath for the psyche . . . [but] meditation has a shadow side, familiar to experienced meditation teachers but almost never mentioned in the popular media—that is, the not uncommon tendency of some people when they begin practicing in earnest to freak out (lose ego boundaries, hallucinate, relive old wounds and traumas, experience intense fear . . . as well as exhibit strange physical symptoms, like spasms, involuntary movements, hot flashes . . . [ etc.] These effects are well documented in Buddhist texts as stages along the long, hard path to inner wisdom . . .” Published findings by Brown University include negative impacts to sleep patterns, appetite and weight, hypersensitivity to light and sound, and an inability to return to normal work or function, to name a few.
The effect of mindfulness on neurophysiology is largely uncharted. Author Wylie writes, “. . . [meditation is] in fact, a far deeper, more complex, and less well-understood process than many people realize.” The district has acted outside of its purview by making a diagnosis of student body health as a whole, then prescribing a one-size-fits-all remedy in the form of mindfulness.
The new car—mindfulness—is a lemon; it looks good, but tests show otherwise. Mindfulness is a religious practice that the district cannot legally impose on others. The district cannot guarantee that participants will not experience undesirable effects from it. For these reasons, I urge the district to park the car mindfulness in a garage, close the door, and lose the keys.
I would like to make a copy of my remarks with sources and references available to the board.
Thank you for your attention.
Resources Cited and Used
“Meditation.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,
22 July 2004. Web. 15 November 2017.
“Mindfulness.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.,
22 July 2004. Web. 15 November 2017.
“How the Mindfulness Movement Went Mainstream—And the Backlash That
Came With It.” Alternet. Mary Sykes Wylie. Web. 29 January 2015.
Accessed 15 November 2017.
“Joint Statement of Current Law on Religion in the Public Schools.” ACLU.
Web. Accessed 15 November 2017.
“The Dangers of Meditation: It Can Actually Lead to Insomnia, Fear, and
Hypersensitivity to Light.” Daily Mail.com. Victoria Allen. Web.
24 May 2017. Accessed 15 November 2017.
“What You Need to Tell Your Local Public School Officials About Children and
Mindfulness Meditation.” Editors. Lighthouse Trails Research. Web.
15 November 2017.
(Photo from bigstockphoto; used with permission,)