Mindfulness-Based Interventions: An Emerging Phenomenon
I offer an overview of the rapidly growing field of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs). A working definition of mindfulness in this context includes the brahma viharas, sampajanna and appamada, and suggests a very particular mental state which is both wholesome and capable of clear and penetrating insight into the nature of reality. The practices in mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) that apply mindfulness to the four foundations are outlined, along with a brief history of the program and the original intentions of the founder, Jon Kabat-Zinn. The growth and scope of these interventions are detailed with demographics provided by the Center for Mindfulness, an overview of salient research studies and a listing of the varied MBIs that have grown out of MBSR. The question of ethics is explored, and other challenges are raised including teacher qualification and clarifying the “outer limits,” or minimum requirements, of what constitutes an MBI. Current trends are explored, including the increasing number of cohort-specific interventions as well as the publication of books, articles, and workbooks by a new generation of MBI teachers. Together, they form an emerging picture of MBIs as their own new “lineage,” which look to MBSR as their inspiration and original source. The potential to bring benefit to new fields, such as government and the military, represent exciting opportunities for MBIs, along with the real potential to transform health care. Sufficient experience in the delivery of MBIs has been garnered to offer the greater contemplative community valuable resources such as secular language, best practices, and extensive research.