The other day, my wife, Carolyn, and I popped into a bookstore in Concord, Massachusetts—a very well-to-do and well-educated community. While browsing the various shelves, we happened upon the “spirituality” section. Aside from only three Bible translations (none well-known), the shelves were filled with books on New Age, spiritualism, occultism, eastern and western esoteric philosophies, Buddhism, and meditative practices. Yoga/meditation and mindfulness training each had their own display cases. No doubt you may have witnessed the same phenomena in your local bookstore, too.
But here’s a question: Are we just brushing it off as a sign of the times, or are we actively dealing with it metaphysically? It is essential that we be standing “…porter at the door of thought…” (Science and Health, p. 392) and be alert to these trends that would attempt to enter our consciousness—mental trends that are sourced in the carnal mind and which are seeking to erode the successful practice of Christian Science both for ourselves and our patients.
Take “mindfulness” for instance. This is a meditative/”spiritual” practice—a secular form of Buddhism—that has become quite popular. The medical and psychological establishments are actively taking note of and researching this practice, as well as beginning to employ it as one of their therapies. Now, at first blush this could seem to be a good thing since it might appear to indicate that these matter-based institutions are investigating how thought—meditation—could affect health.
But that’s at first blush!
A couple of years ago, I attended a lecture presented by a neurological researcher/psychologist from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School who was also a practitioner of mindfulness. She espoused the benefits of mindfulness techniques to an extremely receptive audience—an audience comprised of what appeared to be very well-educated individuals. An audience that considered themselves spiritually-minded as well.
The researcher showed slides of brain scans that depicted areas of increased activity in various regions of the brain as a result of regular and repeated mindfulness practices—areas that were supposed to produce beneficial health effects.
What were those practices? In essence, breathing techniques combined with the repetition of mantras.
The researcher said that these techniques produced a form of pain management, yet when one member of the audience asked if these changes in the brain had a lasting effect on the patient if there was a cessation of repeated daily chanting, the lecturer reluctantly replied that it lasted no more than a few months. This response, however, didn’t diminish anyone’s enthusiasm for mindfulness.
As a demonstration, each attendee was asked to repeatedly chant a mantra while focusing on their body—including any pain they might be experiencing—and then embrace both their body and their pain in their focused thought. Having spent 20 years prior to Christian Science in the deep study and practice of western and eastern esoteric systems, I did not participate—knowing full-well where this exercise was going.
Let me be clear here: these types of techniques are a form of self-hypnosis and are therefore the antithesis of Christian Science. Any form of hypnosis or mesmerism—and that’s what mantras are—is animal magnetism. It creates a false sense of peace which engulfs the individual in a wave of mental drowsiness and distractedness instead of watchfulness and spiritual receptivity.
The advocates of mindfulness are in effect prescribing a mental form of drugging—a drugging that enslaves its adherents through ritual. A drugging that thwarts real spiritual growth by misdirecting mental energies from the awareness of the health-giving omnipresence and omnipotence of our all-good God to the material consciousness—to mortal mind.
A drugging that parades itself in the robes of spirituality while at the same time disavowing any belief in God!
My friends, we need to be alert to these practices which—if unguarded against—could easily seep into our own thinking and diminish our capacity to heal.
And that’s something that none of us can afford. Let’s be mindful of that!