No, Buddhist-Based Mindfulness Is Not the Same as Christian Meditation: Debunking the Unconstitutional and Unbiblical Fallacy in Schools


Christina Compagnone

November 1, 2019

6 min read

Religious Liberty



In our previous posts, we alerted you to the danger of mindfulness in schools, discussed the inherent Buddhist nature of mindfulness, and revealed the deception involved in getting these programs into schools. We thank you for rising to the challenge and partnering with us to eliminate this violation of the First Amendment in our schools.

Some of our clients have been told that school mindfulness programs can mesh with Christianity, or any religion, but this is simply false. Christianity and Buddhism have opposing worldviews which influence how they both practice meditation. With this post, we will provide some clarity about the differences between Buddhist meditation and Christian meditation. A helpful summary is provided in the chart below:

Attributes:MindfulnessChristian Devotional Meditation
FocusSelfGod, Scripture, & Self
Meditation Relational ContextSelf-Awareness (+ Therapist Input in session)Self-Awareness + God-Awareness (+ Therapist Input in session)
Key AttitudesAcceptance & self-compassionTrust, Confession, Surrender, & Grace

(Courtesy of Dr. James Flynn of Regent University School of Divinity)

Whereas Zen meditation promotes the idea “that we are connected to the cosmos in a holistic way and that meditation actuates that connectedness,” Christians believe that men and women are image bearers of God and individuals with souls that can be redeemed through Jesus.

Buddhists also believe that people need to escape suffering via mindfulness and that each person needs to find their own path for achieving enlightenment. In contrast, Christians believe that suffering brings us closer to God and that Christ is the only way to receive salvation.

Finally, for Buddhists, love is “an impersonal feeling of compassion,” while love is – for Christians – “personal, individual and free-willed.”

These differing worldviews affect how both religions approach meditation. Given the Buddhist belief that suffering needs to be eliminated, the purpose of Zen meditation is finding internal peace, eliminating suffering and stress, and achieving enlightenment. To achieve this goal, Buddhists empty their minds by focusing on an object, a mantra, or their breath to keep their minds from wandering. Likewise, “Eastern meditation focuses on man being in control,” where man can achieve an elevated state of being and save himself from his worries and circumstances by himself. When your children are exposed to Zen Buddhist mindfulness, they are being indoctrinated with the idea that they have the ability to save themselves from whatever ails them by emptying their minds or observing thoughts without judgment.

Yip Kok Toh, a former Zen meditator, provides an insider's view on the way Buddhist meditation works. He explains that Buddhists do not allow any thoughts in their heads and always return to their breaths to ensure that they empty their minds. Through this practice, meditators are physically altering their bodies. They move from active brain waves to alpha brain waves, and finally, to sleep waves.

In other words, they force their brains to stop being alert and to disengage with reality, as they move into a state of mind similar to falling asleep. Then, they end in a state of mind where their brains move so slowly that they begin to imagine things are very tranquil as if they have floating minds. In this altered state, their brains block incoming data and they lose the ability to feel where they are in three-dimensional space, such as where they are sitting in relation to the floor and other objects. This creates a simulation of being connected to the universe or “one with the universe,” – a core element of Buddhist thought.

When schools teach mindfulness to your children, they are endorsing this same idea of being one with the universe, while also teaching them to ignore their problems. Yip Kok Toh states that this process prevents people from confronting their problems. He explains how it is mere escapism because people feel euphoric due to their altered minds, essentially leading people to forget whatever problems they had before. Finally, he warns that Zen meditation is addictive given that it releases brain chemicals that make participants want to obsessively continue their meditations. In some cases, children are being taught how to alter their brains in this same manner and to enter into a dangerous hallucinogenic state that manufactures a false reality.

In sharp contrast to Buddhist mindfulness, the purpose of Christian meditation is to understand what the Bible says and turn away from evil by filling the mind with God’s truth. Furthermore, Christian meditation focuses on growing your relationship with God and others, as well as growing in holiness and gaining the peace of Christ. In other words, “[w]e remain in the present not for the sake of the present, but for the sake of discovering the voice of God as He speaks to us in each moment of our day.” This highlights perhaps the key difference between Zen meditation and Christian meditation, where Zen empties the mind and Christian meditation fills the mind.

Christians approach meditation by focusing on God’s laws, God Himself, or heavenly things in general, rather than focusing on breathing and our own magnificence like Buddhists. Instead of attempting to alter the mind or reach a different state of consciousness, Christians engage in singing and prayer and use observations of the natural world to ponder spiritual realities. Unlike Buddhist mindfulness and its pursuit of reaching enlightenment, “[f]or the follower of Christ there is no place to ‘get to,’ no striving, no technique. The goal for the follower of Christ is not to relax; it’s to surrender.

This difference means Christians can meditate on God’s Word regardless of their circumstances and their surroundings as they empty their minds of “ungodly and unbiblical thoughts, of desires for sin and resistance to the reign of God in our lives” and replace them with “the truth of Scripture.” As they meditate on God’s Word and allow Him to transform their lives with His truth, the outcome is confrontation of sins and weaknesses as God reveals them, much like how He did with King David in the Psalms. In other words, “Biblical meditation doesn’t give us an escape from reality, it gives us supernatural strength through the Holy Spirit” to fully address our sinfulness, fears, and problems.

Thus, while many argue that all meditation is the same and that it does not matter what religion someone practices or adheres to, the Buddhist tenets in the mindfulness programs being rolled out in our public schools directly conflict with the tenets of Christianity. Buddhist meditation’s focus on the self, the emptying of the mind, and the belief that all people are one directly opposes Christian meditation’s focus on God, the filling of the mind with biblical thoughts, and reality that each person is an individual made in God’s image. Where Buddhist meditation practices relaxation, Christian meditation practices obedience and becoming more like Christ.

As always, we ask you to continue helping us eliminate the presence of Buddhist meditation in our schools. Your prayers, support, and willingness to share your stories with us enable us to fight for your First Amendment rights.