MindfulBiology’s primary aim is to present factual biology in a way that roots scientific understanding directly in the body’s felt experience. For these purposes, no philosophical underpinnings are required. However, the project has a secondary goal of encouraging participants to begin building a sense of friendliness toward the Life they feel within. This is a rational step only if living systems are viewed as more than mere mechanisms. Thus, although MindfulBiology embraces all established scientific findings, including the role of natural selection in evolution, it specifically rejects mechanistic assumptions that discourage tenderness toward the body and obscure life’s many mysteries. At the same time, Mindful Biology’s organic perspective is naturalistic and invokes no supernatural forces. Because MindfulBiology’s world view lands somewhere between the dominant (and warring) philosophies of materialism and spiritualism, it deserves a place on the website.
More than other sections on this site, the philosophical treatments will be written, most often, in the first person, because they are products of my own personal experience. Much of my struggle to understand how life works grew out of a highly traumatic upbringing, which was softened somewhat by long visits with my grandparents, who lived in rural Indiana and exposed me to the healing rhythms of growing and harvesting. My fascination with farm life was a major factor in my devoting the first two decades of adulthood to undergraduate education in ecology and zoology, graduate work in neuroscience and biophysics, medical training, and a half-dozen years of oculoplastic surgical practice. After a major midlife transition, when neck disease ended my surgical career, there followed a difficult decade during which I dealt with serious mental and physical health issues while building up meditative skills. I eventually tried my hand (briefly) at practicing Chinese Medicine, and then found a more sustainable vocation teaching human biology to yoga professionals. The philosophy behind MindfulBiology grew out of these exploits, as well as others, and it must be explained from a personal point of view.
Detailing the philosophy behind this site in first-person terms will, I hope, also emphasize that the speculations are my own. I do not claim a rock-solid basis for my conclusions. They grew out of an extensive scientific training in young adulthood, and many years of meditative exploration in middle life, but I don’t consider them beyond dispute. And, what’s most important, they have no bearing on MindfulBiology’s main mission: to help us all become more appreciative of our own bodies.
As a final point, the essays in this section are generally longer than those elsewhere, because the topics are more complex and can’t be broken down into easily digestible pieces. Luckily, since these essays are not of primary importance to the practice of MindfulBiology, those who find them boring or irrelevant can ignore them and still gain the benefits of a meditative approach to life science.
The philosophical discussions will be divided into the following categories:
- The Nature of Life
- Body Perspectives
- Drawing on Tradition
- Living as Learning
- The Big Picture
- Relating to Life
Please feel free to communicate with me about your own philosophies and ideas. Developing a healing approach to living is a collaborative effort, one of the major projects of humanity. We can do our small part, together, to further that goal.
–Will Meecham, MD, MA