Secular Mindfulness and the possibility of naturalistic spirituality

Research output: Contribution to conferenceUnpublished paper


Many of the current criticisms of secular mindfulness discuss an apparent lack of compassionate or spiritual heritage or content in secular approaches and interventions. The ‘instrumentalisation’ of mindfulness has provoked criticism from a range of spiritual or religious commentators and figures about the misuse of mindfulness out with its various putative religious birth traditions. The use of the term ‘secular’ in this context has been described as a prophylactic that, while making mindfulness palatable to the western mind-set, has also rendered it infertile. In this paper Dr Graeme Nixon will argue that much of this criticism relies on false binaries around terms such as spiritual and secular, and that mindfulness whilst perhaps being ubiquitous to religious traditions (to varying degrees) is also present in western philosophy and the scientific temper. Graeme will argue for the recognition that, with a better grasp of secularity (as opposed to secularism), a more inclusive, accessible and, at the same time, pluralistic understanding can emerge

Dr Graeme Nixon is the programme director of the Studies in Mindfulness MSc programme at the University of Aberdeen. His research interests include philosophy in schools; secularity and spirituality; the rational autonomy of children; values education, and thinking skills. Dr Graeme Nixon is also a senior lecturer of Religious, Moral and Philosophical Studies (RMPS) at the University of Aberdeen. He teaches on the initial teacher education programmes for primary and secondary student teachers.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 25 Feb 2017
EventCompassionate Wellbeing Conference: Spirituality and Wellbeing - Holiday Inn York , York, United Kingdom
Duration: 24 Feb 201726 Feb 2017


ConferenceCompassionate Wellbeing Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


  • Spirituality
  • Mindfulness


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