Spain's Catholic bishops have warned that the increasingly popular use of Mindfulness is incompatible with "Christian prayer practices", and cautioned Catholics they risk "effectively abandoning the faith" if they engage in it.
"Our pace of life, marked by activism, competitiveness and consumerism, generates emptiness, stress and anguish", said the Bishops Conference's Commission for Doctrine of the Faith. "In this situation, many people are resorting to methods of meditation and prayer that originate in religious traditions outside Christianity in response to a growing demand for emotional well-being. However, a spirituality understood as cultivation of one's interiority and self-discovery does not lead to God".
The document was published in response to the growing popularity of Mindfulness, Buddhism and New Age practices in Spain, where baptised Catholics make up two-thirds of the population of 47 million, although fewer than a quarter ever attend Mass and 29 percent declare of citizens themselves non-believers, according to August data.
It said the "secularised mentality" characterising contemporary society hindered the cultivation of spirituality and attempts at "encounter with God".
However, it added that techniques aimed at "self-control of personal emotions and sufferings" were often used "without proper discernment about their compatibility with the Christian message of salvation", and were not generally "open to the will of God". Those using Mindfulness methods "as a complement to the faith or to achieve a more intense experience of it", the Church document added, often "effectively abandoned the Catholic faith even without realising it".
"The reduction of prayer to meditation turns this type of practice into a monologue that begins and ends in the subject itself", the Bishops Conference commission said. "Eliminating the difference between the self and what is outside, between the sacred and the profane, between the divine and the created makes it impossible to distinguish the personal face of the Christian God. When divinity and the world are confused and there is no otherness, any type of prayer is useless".