As people continue to demystify religious dogma and meditation, approval of meditation practices within certain churches continues to rise.
Take the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ames (Iowa). A mindfulness meditation group was founded there in 2006 by Unitarian pastor Joel Geske and ordained Unitarian Universalist minister Brian Eslinger as a way to give Iowa State University professors a place to unwind from their stressful jobs. Geske and Eslinger, also faculty members at ISU, used the Buddhist tradition and their own personal experience to help show that meditation can be seen as a way of life rather than an obscure religious ritual.
Before the 20th century, the precepts underlying Buddhist meditation were little known in the United States. But the work of thinkers like D. T. Suzuki and Alan Watts slowly popularized the practice in America. Gradually, more and more Americans began to meditate. Many sought a less exalted sort of freedom than the Buddha had. Rather than freedom from all earthly attachments, they wanted freedom from the unthinking worry and distraction of their daily lives. They wanted a chance to, as Suzuki put it, “wake up and become aware.”
Today, the popularity of the group has increased and still provides a refuge for current ISU faculty and staff. Read more about the mindfulness meditation group here.