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Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public SchoolsReforming Secular Education or Reestablishing Religion?$
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Candy Gunther Brown

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781469648484

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469648484.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 23 September 2021

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction

(p.161) Chapter 8 Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction
Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools

Candy Gunther Brown

University of North Carolina Press

Chapter 8 unpacks the modern American concept of “mindfulness.” Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn in 1979, provides a model for mindfulness-based programs (MBPs), such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). MBSR is nominally “secular” and supported by scientific research, yet infused at every level—concept, structure, teaching training, and graduate resources—with systematic instruction in Buddhist-derived assumptions, values, and practices, what Kabat-Zinn interprets as the “essence” of Buddhism. Many MBPs exhibit the Malnak-Meyers indicia of religion. Certain mindfulness missionaries conceptualize their tactics as “skillful means,” “Stealth Buddhism,” “Trojan horse,” or “script.” Other proponents may understand mindfulness teachings as self-evidently true and “universal,” without recognizing that supposedly “secular ethics” are socially constructed and contested by others, including Christians and certain Buddhists. MBPs exemplify the difficulty of extracting the “secular” from the “religious.” Mindfulness is “secular” in privileging present experience and “religious” in comprising a world view and way of life premised on more-than-physical assumptions about the nature of reality, self, and the path to salvation from suffering. The chapter argues that secularization requires more than subtracting religious language and adding scientific framing: rebuilding from foundations uncontrolled by assumptions about the nature of the self and the world.

Keywords:   Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), skillful means, Stealth Buddhism, Trojan horse, script, world view, way of life, secularization

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