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Mindfulness and religion.

Mindfulness and The Florida Bar Journal (April 2016): four full-length articles, 32 testimonials, and zero critical examinations. I think that qualifies "Mindfulness" for full-blown fad status.

Who would have guessed that taking some time to sit quietly and think of something other than your problems would reduce stress? Well, my mom for one. For over 40 years, my mom has counseled anyone who was feeling out of sorts to sit quietly and sip cool water. I can produce dozens of testimonials to the effectiveness of her technique, but I don't have a catchy name for it; "JeanneHurtakfulness" never caught on. Maybe if we had gotten a grant we could have paid for scientism studies to prove its effectiveness and then with the help of a marketing consultant rebranded it as "Jeannefulness."

In addition to books promising the solution to all physical, mental, and spiritual problems, we could have marketed a line of bottled water "Jeannewater."

Yes, I know that above is extremely snarky. And if I have offended anyone, then great! If you are offended by this brief criticism of mindfulness, it is because mindfulness is a religious practice and you are emotionally attached to it. I have no problem with religion and no problem with it being discussed in The Florida Bar Journal or any other public forum. However, I do think it is disingenuous to present religious practices as some type of secular scientific exercise that can improve all problems. Be honest: Mindfulness is rebranded Buddhist meditation for commercial promotion. It doesn't require clairvoyance to see the trajectory of this mindfulness movement in our Bar. Other state bars already offer CLEs for mindfulness training so, of course, The Florida Bar should do likewise. CLEs for mindfulness training? Fine but what about CLEs for attending daily Mass or saying the Rosary? I bet there are scientific studies of contemplative nuns and monks that prove the benefits of such practices.

For a critical examination of mindfulness and its origins, I suggest The Muddied Meaning of "Mindfulness" by Virginia Heffernan in the April 14, 2015, edition of The New York Times Magazine. I hope the editor of The Florida Bar Journal will print that article in the next edition.

Jerome Hurtak, Miami

I was puzzled by two aspects of your April 2016 special issue on mindfulness.

First, as someone who practiced karate-do for quite a few years, I regard "mindfulness" as a new wrinkle on Zen meditation we practiced in class and the concept of "being here now" as another way of expressing a concept I learned as "mushin no shin" ("mindless mind"). I believe that most knowledgeable observers would agree that these stress-relief techniques originate with Buddhist practices. I am surprised that this fact does not appear to be referenced anywhere in the issue.

Second, although I am not a follower of any organized religion, I fully appreciate that many of my fellow Bar members are deeply devoted adherents of various faiths, some of which prohibit the practice of other religions. For some individuals, the "mindfulness" techniques suggested in the April issue would need to be modified, or perhaps disregarded altogether, to maintain personal spiritual integrity. This seems to be a rather obvious point, and I am surprised that no attempt was made to publish stress-relief options grounded in other faiths. I believe this would have made for a better issue of the 'Bar Journal.

Tom Nordlie, Gainesville

I picked up the April issue of The Florida Bar Journal and was perplexed when I saw it was a special issue on mindfulness. Being confused, I began reading the introductory article. I became more confused. I was clearly ignorant of mindfulness. I continued to read and as I became more familiar with the terms, I realized I was more ignorant and confused than when I began. So I turned to Wikipedia. Aha. Wikipedia explained that mindfulness was a Buddhist meditation technique. Now I was getting somewhere. But as I read the Wiki article, I learned that practitioners of Buddhist meditation thought that the commercialization of mindfulness was unacceptable and disparaging of Buddhist tradition. Not wanting to be politically incorrect, I returned to The Florida Bar Journal and read on, thinking that I was missing something. I attempted to become more familiar with mindfulness so that I could embrace the underlying philosophy or technique or whatever it is. Deciding to practice, I thought deeply about it for some time. Embracing the reality of the situation, I determined that mindfulness in this situation required only action to return to a less confused state. Turning, I deposited The Florida Bar Journal issue in the round file and returned to practicing law. Calmness restored, it was a success.

Charles Jeffrey Duke, Bradford, PA

Jerome Hurtak, Tom Nordlie, Charles Jeffrey Duke
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Title Annotation:Letters
Author:Hurtak, Jerome; Nordlie, Tom; Duke, Charles Jeffrey
Publication:Florida Bar Journal
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:Jun 1, 2016
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