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Religions 2014, 5(4), 1062-1086; doi:10.3390/rel5041062

From Retreat Center to Clinic to Boardroom? Perils and Promises of the Modern Mindfulness Movement

Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, 3359 Mississauga Road, Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6, Canada
Received: 24 July 2014 / Revised: 28 September 2014 / Accepted: 23 October 2014 / Published: 6 November 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Science and Religion: Buddhist and Hindu Perspectives)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [174 KB, uploaded 6 November 2014]

Abstract

From its venerable Buddhist roots, mindfulness training (MT) has spread rapidly across the globe in the past few decades due to its strong salutary claim, i.e., the notion that meditation practice is an efficacious means for self-improvement. However, concerns have arisen that the appropriation of MT techniques from classical Buddhist tradition into modern secular practice has diluted the benefits of these practices. The “great danger” to the movement is that inadequately adapted MT techniques, combined with unreasonable inflation of expectations regarding MT’s benefits, may undermine MT’s true potential to effect positive change in the world. And yet, these concerns can be mitigated by consideration of the salutary claim as a persistent “quality check” on MT efficacy. It is argued that scientific investigation can take an important role in delineating the necessary characteristics for fulfilling mindfulness’ salutary claim, as well as identifying contraindicated techniques and risk factors for training. By accepting that we cannot control the spread of MT into commercial domains, researchers may still work to distinguish “right” from “wrong” mindfulness through empirical study. In this way, modern science may help to realize the salutary claim and even contribute to classical Buddhist conceptions of mindfulness, advancing our understanding of how best to promote well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: mindfulness; Buddhism; science; salutary claim; well-being; western; eastern; training; efficacy; appropriation mindfulness; Buddhism; science; salutary claim; well-being; western; eastern; training; efficacy; appropriation
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Farb, N.A.S. From Retreat Center to Clinic to Boardroom? Perils and Promises of the Modern Mindfulness Movement. Religions 2014, 5, 1062-1086.

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