Mindfulness Hoax or Mistake: Mindfulness Meditation is being marketed in Canadian public schools as Secular Breathing.

Mindfulness hoax or mistake: In Canada, Mindfulness-oriented organizations (inc. the MindUP organization) are marketing Mindfulness sessions as “secular breathing” sessions (within public schools). In turn, numerous public school teachers and officials are relaying that same message to parents and students, and they widely claim that Mindfulness Meditation sessions do not involve meditation, have no religious or spiritual affiliation and are “entirely secular.” Applicable officials widely refer to Mindfulness Meditation sessions as secular breathing, secular breathing exercises, and mindful breathing.




Here are 31 articles of evidence that collectively prove Mindfulness sessions are Buddhist Meditation & Guided Meditation sessions:

1. Jon Kabat-Zinn is the man accredited with popularizing Mindfulness Meditation. According to Wikipedia, Mr. Kabat-Zinn was first introduced to meditation by a Zen Buddhist Missionary (in the 1970’s). He later became a meditation instructor, and he reportedly is a founding member of the Cambridge Zen Centre. Another quick online search shows that Mr. Kabat-Zinn authored a three-part CD series called “Guided Mindfulness Meditation,” and he authored a book called, “Mindfulness Meditation for Everyday Life.”

Mindfulness Program




2. In his book, Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment – and Your Life, Mr. Kabat-Zinn said: “Although it seems that there is plenty ‘to do’ on these guided meditation programs, none of it is about doing anything or getting somewhere else…”




3. In Abhidharma Buddhism, the Four Stations of Mindfulness are the antidotes for what they refer to as “Four Delusions.” This suggests the program title, for Mindfulness, which is rapidly gaining in popularity, has a name that is derived from ancient Buddhism.

mindfulness petition




4. In Buddhist writings, they say Buddha referred to the fourfold establishment of Mindfulness as a “direct” or “one-way path” for purification and the realization of nirvana. This suggests the program title Mindfulness, which is rapidly gaining in popularity, has a name that is derived from ancient Buddhism.

Mindfulness petition




5. In Buddhism, “Mindfulness” is #1 on the list of The Seven Factors of Enlightenment. This suggests the program title, for Mindfulness, which is rapidly gaining in popularity, has a name (and concepts), that are derived from ancient Buddhism.mindfulness-seven-factors-to-enlightenment




6. The Handbook of Mindfulness and Self-Regulation classifies Mindfulness as meditation. And, it specifically refers to it as “Mindfulness Meditation” on pages 16, 103, 280, and 282.




7. Wikipedia says “Sati (Mindfulness) is an essential part of Buddhist practice” and it describes the connection between Mindfulness and Buddhism: Here are some excerpts:

“Mindfulness is a way of paying attention that originated in Eastern meditation practices; “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally;” [and] “Bringing one’s complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.” Wikipedia

“According to Paul Williams, referring to Erich Frauwallner, mindfulness provided the way in early Buddhism to liberation, “constantly watching sensory experience in order to prevent the arising of cravings which would power future experience into rebirths.” Wikipedia




8. In ancient Buddhism, Right Mindfulness is #7 of the “Noble Eightfold Path.” This suggests the program title Mindfulness, which is rapidly gaining in popularity, has a name (and concepts) that are derived from ancient Buddhism.

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9. Mindfulness Meditation sounds like the description of  Vipassanā-Meditation, which is a Buddhist practice described as “insight meditation” or “inward vision.” One writer says Vipassana “was rediscovered by Gotama Buddha more than 2500 years ago” and “Vipassanā meditation involves concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight that this provides” and “Insight meditation is concerned with the present moment — with staying in the now to the most extreme degree possible. It consists of observing body (rupa) and mind (nama) with bare attention.” This meditation website says Vipassana is “the method by which the Buddha and his disciples freed themselves from every form of suffering and attained awakening.” And this site says “In the Vipassanā Movement, the emphasis is on the Satipatthana Sutta and the use of mindfulness to gain insight into the impermanence of the self-view.”




10. In a 2015 TED Talk, a Deputy High Priest in Zen Buddhism, said (at 1:17): “Mindfulness has been a part of Buddhist traditions for many Centuries. It’s a practice and a way of thinking that help us be present, with an experience, in a non-judgmental way.” And, at 3:25, he said: “The main practice of mindfulness – is meditation.”




11. The online dictionary definition of Guided Meditation is: “A meditation session conducted with verbal instruction from a teacher.” Dictionary.com

Mindfulness MindUP petition




12. Mindfulness Meditation sessions, within Canadian public schools, involve closed eyes (closed eyes are indicative of traditional Buddhist Meditation and Guided Meditation).

mindfulness petition




13. Mindfulness Meditation sessions, within Canadian public schools, requires participants to be seated. And, to my understanding, the traditional Buddhist meditation posture is not kneeling or standing – it is the seated position.

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14. Mindfulness Meditation sessions, within Canadian public schools, involve the use of a designated Guide (the presence of a Guide, or the audio playback of a Guide’s voice, is a primary element in Guided Meditation and it is often present in Buddhist meditation).

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15. Mindfulness Meditation sessions, within Canadian public schools, involves concentrated and controlled breathing. It’s important to note that one of the fundamentals principles in Buddhist Meditation is to focus on one’s own breath — which Buddhists refer to as Prana (In Buddhism, Prana is thought of as “Life force energy.” In Tibetan Buddhism, Prana is referred to as psychic winds that travel within internal channels).

mindfulness program elsie roy elementary




16. The Mindfulness Guide, at our child’s public school, incorporates the use of a small instrument which, when chimed, creates a bell sound to mark the beginning and end of each Mindfulness session. I believe I may have found the same chime online, here (called a “Zenergy Meditation Chime”). This chime is set to a similar frequency as a Tingsha, which is used in Buddhist meditation (Tingsha’s are reported as being used in Tibetan rituals, such as offerings to “hungry ghosts”). It’s also worth noting here that some Canadian public schools, such as Bethune Collegiate, in Toronto, use a traditional Tibetan singing bowl (which creates a bell sound) at the beginning and end of each Mindfulness session (to my understanding, Tingsha’s and Tibetan singing bowls have been used to mark the beginning and end of Buddhist meditation sessions for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years. And, they possess spiritual and ritual significance).

mindfulness petition




17. Mindfulness Meditation Guides, within Canadian public schools, encourage students to focus their thoughts in a present-centered non-judgmental way, during Mindfulness sessions. In researching where that task might have originated, I found a direct quote from the man accredited with popularizing Mindfulness Meditation. In his book, Mindfulness, Jon Kabat-Zinn said: “To properly practice Mahāmudrā even as a beginner, it would seem that one must remain within the present without evaluation or judgment.” A quick search tells me that Mahāmudrā is the pinnacle of all the teachings of the Buddha. So, when students are asked to center their thoughts in the present moment, without judgement (in the context of meditation), that appears to be an ancient Buddhist teaching.

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18. I found a quote from an Ancient Buddhist text (which is more than 400 years old). In giving instructions regarding what to think about in Buddhist Meditation, it says: “Relaxed, free and easy, release the mind into mere non-distraction. Within a state free of hopes and fears, devoid of evaluation or judgement, be carefree and open. And within that state, do not  pursue the past; do not usher in the future; place [awareness] within the present, without adjustment, without hopes or fears.” The Ninth Karmapa’s Ocean of Definitive Meaning (1556-1603). And, while the idea of living in the present moment is not necessarily just a Buddhist value. Meditating upon the present moment is evidence of Buddhist Meditation.




19. YouTube videos, which feature children practicing Guided Meditation (like the video below, from India), look very similar to Mindfulness Meditation sessions.




20. In British Columbia, Canada, there is a non-profit association called BCALM (BC Association for Living Mindfully). On their website, they note at least one case study which refers to Mindfulness specifically as “Mindfulness Meditation.”




21. In a 2016 YouTube video, a very popular Buddhist Monk named Thích Nhất Hạnh, gives directions regarding mindful breathing. At the 3:33 mark in the video, he eludes to the same mindful meditation directions that are commonly taught within mainstream Mindfulness.




22. In 1979 Jon Kabat-Zinn founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts.” And, he is accredited with developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. According to Wikipedia, the MBSR program involves instruction in these three formal techniques: mindfulness meditation, body scanning, and simple yoga postures. There is evidence to indicate all three of those practices are spiritual practices here: a) As outlined, Mindfulness Meditation is Buddhist Meditation; b) Body scanning traces to Buddha himself as shown in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness Sutta (Satipatthana Sutta) where it reportedly says “A monk surveys his body from the soles of his feet upwards and then from the hair on the top of the head downwards…” It’s my understanding that body scanning is also found in modern Vipassanā Meditation; 3) Yoga has deep connections to Hinduism and Sun Worship.




23. Jon Kabat-Zinn (pictured below) is the man who popularized the Mindfulness program. Mr. Kabat-Zinn is usually very ambiguous when describing Mindfulness. Here is an example of how he often describes Mindfulness: “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” Other times, he is more direct and seems to confess that Mindfulness involves authentic ancient Buddhist Meditation, as shown here: “This is not McMindfulness by any stretch of the imagination. What it is – now I have to use some Buddhist terminology – it is the movement of the Dharma [the Buddhist teachings] into the mainstream of society. Buddhism really is about the Dharma – it’s about the teachings of the Buddha…There was a monk in Sri Lanka named Nyanaponika Thera who was actually a German who spent his entire adult life in Sri Lanka as a Theravadan monk, and he wrote a book called the ‘Heart of Buddhist Meditation’. It came out in 1962, and I quote from it in my books, and in that book, it describes mindfulness as the heart of meditation, that’s what the book is about and the satipatthana sutta. So you see I didn’t make up the idea that there is such a thing as mindfulness meditation. It is very much the case in the Theravadan tradition that it is seen that way.”

Mindfulness Petition Elsie Roy Elementary




24. Jon Kabat-Zinn (mentioned above) usually meditates with his hands fixed in the “Cosmic Mudra” position, which is a Zen Buddhist meditative position. In the photo below, Kabat-Zinn is featured on the left (and center). By comparison, another Zen Buddhist meditator is on the right. Note: In his book, Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment – and Your Life, Kabat-Zinn says the cosmic mudra is the “shape of an oval above the fingers.” He also mentions the “myriad of ways the body can position itself, both in formal meditation and in daily life.”

cosmic mudra




25. Mindfulness Instructors in the community, are advertising for-profit Mindfulness sessions as “Mindfulness Meditation.” In fact, the Roundhouse Community Centre, which is located right across the street from our child’s school in Vancouver, Canada, is one example of many:

mindfulness meditation




26. Virtually all major editorials, writing about Mindfulness, have noted the intrinsic connection between meditation, Buddhism, and Mindfulness Meditation, such as this example from The Spectator“Mindfulness is squarely based on Buddhism. In fact, from the focus on breathing to the insistence on compassion, it really is Buddhism.” More examples: QuartzHarvard Business Review, The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Vancouver Sun, Time Magazine.

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27. A 2015 UBC Case Study here (which was partially funded by the Hawn Foundation/MindUp organization), says on page three of the PDF (shown below): “Mindfulness, conceived as a set of practices to cultivate this state of mind, typically includes meditation exercises…”

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And, at the bottom of this Case Study, they cite three different publications (which they used for their analysis), which clearly show the word “meditation.” Note: 1) As of this writing, the MindUP website promotes this UBC Case Study, on their website; 2) Kimberly Schonert-Reichl is noted as the lead-Author on this Case Study.

elsie roy elementary school




28. Various courses, such as the example below (Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation), show the union between Mindfulness, Meditation and Buddhist symbolism.





29. Some public school students are being asked to sit in the Sukhasana and Vitarka during Mindfulness sessions (like the children featured in the American stock photo below). It is worthwhile noting here that several websites show this is the seated Buddhist Sukhasana meditation position. And, their hand position is the Vitarka Mudra position (thumbs touching forefingers). One website says the Vitarka Mudra symbolizes Buddha teaching the dharma, and the circle formed with the fingers represents ‘the Law of Buddha.’ Additionally, this website says “mudras induce the deity to be near the worshiper.”

Petition to remove mindfulness from schools

Photo credit: Photodune



30. Click here to read about Zazen (Zen Buddhist Meditation).

Photo credit: nara-edu.ac.jp



31. Click here to read about Samatha Buddhist Meditation.




Please note: I love my Buddhist neighbors and mean no disrespect to anyone. The reason I went way out of my way to show the above connection between Mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism, is because public school administrators, who advocate for Mindfulness Meditation in public schools (inc. MindUP, etc.), are claiming Mindfulness sessions have nothing to do with meditation, spirituality, or Buddhism. As you can see on the above list, every part of Mindfulness Sessions” have an intrinsic connection to Buddhist meditation, and even the name Mindfulness comes from Buddhism.




The Mindfulness hoax. Is it a Mindfulness hoax or mistake?


tags: mindfulness hoax or mistake, mindfulness in schools, social emotional learning, mindfulness canada, mindfulness buddhist, dangers of meditation legislation, against mindfulness legislation, mind up petition, problems with mindfulness legislation,