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Being mindful

“perhaps a typical or representative characteristic of . . . religious naturalists
is what we might describe as an active mindful awareness of the real –
of what is really the case.”
Michael Barrett

Mindful - quiet the mindMindfulness has been described as:

“paying attention in a particular way;
on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
…..Jon Kabat-Zinn

This can be the focus of a type of meditation practice.

Or, more generally, it can be part of an attitude – of appreciating the benefits this state of mind can provide, and acting in ways that can make this a more prominent part of our lives.

Mind full or mindfulAs is discussed in an essay by Michael Barrett, the approach to mindfulness that a number of naturalists have adopted can be part of a distinctive ways of being “religious”; where, as Donald Braxton phrased it, “the cultivation of a scientifically informed mindfulness” can be seen

“as a novel hybrid
of meditation/introspection and empirical investigation.”

An example of this type of hybrid is described in Chet Raymo’s book, “The Path” which discusses how, as he walked to work each day along a path that passed through woods and a meadow, he, at times, would not think about what he did yesterday or problems he was trying to solve. He would engage with what was around him – noticing flowers and plants and the feel of the air – at that particular moment, in that particular season and weather. Along with simply noticing, he saw through eyes that included some knowledge of the place (which he’d sought out and acquired). And, with this, he recognized species of plants and creatures and how they interacted in this ecosystem, and how the history of human presence, along with natural forces, had caused the land to become what it was.

These types of awareness – in noticing (what’s right here, right now) and understanding (what it is, and how it relates to other things) – give breadth and depth that can contribute to a sense of wonder or connection or spiritual/religious appreciation.

Ursula Goodenough described how findings from science can prompt us to become mindful . . .

  • that life evolved, that humans are primates, that all of life is interconnected, and
  • of the uniqueness of each creature , our place in the scheme of things, and of future generations.

“In the broadest and deepest sense, the naturalism part of religious naturalism is all about mindfulness.”

A number of other mindful perspectives on nature have been described – for example:

Being a “Mindful hiker” (learning to listen)
Encountering another being
Being “of, in, and as nature”


“Is there a natural affinity between mindfulness, or other secular forms of meditation, and Religious Naturalism?”, Michael Barrett  

Mindful Virtue, Mindful Reverence. Ursula Goodenough and Paul Woodruff. Zygon 2001.