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Reconciling and thematizing definitions of mindfulness
University of Skövde, School of Health and Education. Högskolan i Jönköping, Hälsohögskolan.
University of Skövde, School of Health and Education.
2015 (English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Mindfulness (or sati in Buddhism) can connote many plausible meanings; thus the concept is not easily defined and the definitions provided in the literature easily confuse the reader. Some mindfulness researchers offer definitions while others do not and take the definition of mindfulness for granted. Beyond the problem of defining mindfulness, the fact that the phenomenon is of great interest to a variety of disciplines, each of which has its own theoretical and methodological approaches, different authors employ different terms in describing this phenomenon. In the present article 30 definitions of mindfulness are reviewed and categorized in terms of four key themes, i.e., mindfulness conceived in terms of an activity, internal mind state, external stimuli, and cultivation. It is argued that until a more thorough, precise and comprehensive definition of mindfulness is formulated, it will be difficult to create protocols, scales and instruments that properly and precisely measure its effectiveness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
mindfulness, Buddhism, sati, definition
National Category
Health Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:his:diva-11394OAI: oai:DiVA.org:his-11394DiVA: diva2:847341
Available from: 2015-08-03 Created: 2015-08-20 Last updated: 2016-03-29Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Conceptualizing and contextualizing mindfulness: New and critical perspectives
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Conceptualizing and contextualizing mindfulness: New and critical perspectives
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation aims at analyzing mindfulness as a concept and a multidimensional phenomenon in its historic and primordial but also contemporary contexts. In the course of examining this more general question, this dissertation targets four specific objectives: 1) classifying existing definitions of mindfulness, 2) critically analyzing and interpreting the Buddhist and Western interpretations and practices of mindfulness, 3) elaborating on the social and existential dimensions of mindfulness, and 4) applying these dimensions in advancing the notion of mindful sustainable aging in the context of successful aging. Paper I examines and assesses the numerous definitions of mindfulness that have been presented over the years by a wide range of scholars from a variety of disciplines. Paper II traces the roots of modern mindfulness in Buddhism. It continues by exploring the utility and practices of mindfulness in the context of social work. The definitions provided in Paper I and the Buddhist underpinnings discussed in Paper II call attention to the fact that in addition to the more commonly considered physical and mental dimensions, mindfulness contains a social and an existential dimension as well – dimensions that remain under-researched and not well understood. To redress this imbalance, Paper III elaborates on these two latter dimensions, emphasizing their potential to enhance health, wellbeing and meaning in life. Paper III further argues that a more nuanced understanding of physical, mental, social and existential mindfulness can be obtained by examining the interconnectedness of all four fields. Paper IV continues the discussion of the social and the existential dimensions of mindfulness with specific emphasis on their utility for successful aging, and advances the notion of mindful sustainable aging. Paper IV highlights the potential of mindfulness for living a meaningful life and boosting the elderly’s capacity to find deeper meaning in their final stage of life.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Jönköping: Jönköping University, School of Health and Welfare, 2015. 77 p.
Hälsohögskolans avhandlingsserie, ISSN 1654-3602 ; 60
mindfulness, Buddhism, sati, social work, health, sustainable aging
National Category
Social Work Gerontology, specializing in Medical and Health Sciences
urn:nbn:se:his:diva-11396 (URN)978-91-85835-59-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2015-09-04, Insikten, Högskolevägen, Skövde, 13:00
Available from: 2015-08-20 Created: 2015-08-20 Last updated: 2015-11-13Bibliographically approved

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