“All meditation techniques need to be purged of presumption and pretentiousness. Christian prayer is not an exercise in self-contemplation, stillness and self-emptying, but a dialogue of love,” it said. Christian prayer “leads to an increasingly complete surrender to God's will, whereby we are invited to a deep, genuine solidarity with our brothers and sisters”
In other places, the Vatican document questions whether meditation is prayer, properly considered, since the meditating person does not necessarily seek to put him or herself in the presence of God.
“The tendency to confuse psychology and spirituality makes it hard not to insist that many of the meditation techniques now used are not prayer,” said the Vatican document. The techniques are “often a good preparation for prayer, but no more, even if they lead to a more pleasant state of mind or bodily comfort.” Despite genuinely intense experiences in meditation, “to remain at this level is to remain alone, not yet in the presence of the other.”
“The achievement of silence can confront us with emptiness, rather than the silence of contemplating the beloved,” said the document.
The “AmaZen” component for Amazon workers is part of the company’s “WorkingWell” program. The company says this program helps its employees “focus on their physical and mental well-being.”
“WorkingWell uses scientifically proven physical and mental activities, wellness exercises, and healthy eating habits to help recharge and reenergize the body, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury for operations employees,” the company said. Parts of the program were first tested in 2019 and the program now reaches about 859,000 employees at 350 sites in North America and Europe.
An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to CNA that employees can use components of the WorkingWell program either during their shift or on break. The spokesperson said that employees have time throughout the day to use the restroom, take a break, pray, get water, or speak to a manager as needed and the company supports them doing so.
Another program component, called “Mind & Body Moments,” gives hourly prompts to employee workstations to guide them through “ a series of scientifically proven physical and mental activities to help recharge and reenergize, and ultimately reduce the risk of injury.” These activities include stretching exercises, breathing exercises and mental reflections, with the aim of reducing muscle fatigue and mental fatigue.
Amazon originally focused on selling books online, and now dominates that market. Its unannounced decision to drop Ryan T. Anderson’s criticism of transgender ideology, scientific and political claims “When Harry Became Sally” drew objections earlier this year.
In March, the company came under fire after it denied well-founded reports that its delivery drivers urinate in bottles because the burdens of their work schedule strongly discourage bathroom breaks.
A September 2020 news report from Reveal News, citing internal company records including safety reports and weekly injury numbers at its fulfillment centers, charged that company officials have misled the public and lawmakers. The report alleged significant increases in serious injury rates at company warehouses, and almost double the rate of injuries compared to industry standards.
The report faulted the intense workload burden on workers, especially during peak ordering times and at robotic facilities. It warns that the company has used robots to boost production to the point that persons can’t keep up.
About 40% of work-related injuries at Amazon are musculoskeletal disorders, like sprains or strains caused by repetitive motion, the company said. Newer employees are the most likely to suffer these injuries. Amazon has claimed that pilot programs have successfully reduced injuries. The company has invested $300 million for safety projects in 2021.
The company plans to release a WorkingWell app for its U.S. employees to provide AmaZen and other safety, health, and wellness offerings.
In October, Amazon touted its number two ranking on Forbes magazine’s World Best Employers 2020 List.
The company continues to be criticized by labor rights advocates, though a unionization drive at an Alabama warehouse failed by a wide margin in April.
Kevin J. Jones is a senior staff writer with Catholic News Agency. He was a recipient of a 2014 Catholic Relief Services' Egan Journalism Fellowship.