The Spiritual Naturalist Society is a new organization that promotes “forms of spirituality that don’t involve faith-based beliefs in the supernatural.” SNS is a humanist organization, but it is completely separate from the Humanist Community Project.
The Executive Director is Daniel Strain, who has been a contributor to our online magazine The New Humanism. Daniel also created the original, Houston-based, mindfulness group that inspired the Humanist Mindfulness Group (which meets weekly here in Cambridge on Tuesday nights and selected Sunday afternoons). I am one of the members of the SNS Advisory Board, along with Susan Blackmore, Stephen Batchelor, Michael Dowd, Jennifer Hancock, B.T. Newberg ,Ted Meissner, Arthur G. Broadhurst and Tom Clark.
I’m not in love with the word “spiritual” but it’s hard to find a concise alternative that captures what we mean, which is positive psychological experiences that produce a sense of meaning. When naturalists refer to spirituality, we see it as something the brain does.
Furthermore, we’re only interested in practices that naturalists can do without compromising their naturalism. So even if prayer were shown to reduce stress, which is quite likely through some sort of placebo effect, that would not make it suitable for naturalists.
The most obvious suitable practice for naturalists is meditation. Of course, these originated in Eastern religious cultures, but once you strip out the supernaturalistic elements, there is still something there. It’s really just an exercise in attention. Meditation and mindfulness help us become aware of our movitations and drives and reorient them in a more humanistic direction. No doubt there are other practices too that can help, and I’m interested to see what comes up among Spiritual Naturalists.