I had planned to write a single chapter, “Moving Toward Mindfulness,” that would cover three streams: secular approaches, the yoga boom, and growth of American Buddhism. But — suprise! that’s too much to cover in one chapter. So, the current plan is to have a section on cultural trends that spotlight mind-body-spirit awareness and the specific changes in society and culture that support the trends.
Chapter Three, Science and Culture Moving Forward, looks at how scientific advances have legitimized practices that used to be considered “woo woo.” For instance, neuroscience has investigated the effects of meditation on the brain and substantiated the many positive effects of regular contemplative practice. But changes in society and culture have also pushed science to go where it didn’t initially want to venture. The example here was the establishment of Office of Alternative Medicine as a unit of NIH in 1991. Strong opponents in the AMA, on the editorial boards of major medical journals, and on the faculty of the top medical schools weren’t able to prevent appropriations because there was such a public demand for unconventional therapies. The OAM was further strengthened through legislation in 1998 when it was elevated to a Center (National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.) This research center became even more mainstream when in 2014 when it was refunded and renamed: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.