Saturday, April 26, 2008

Integrating Mindfulness-Based Interventions into Medicine, Health Care, and the Larger Society 6 th Annual Conference for Clinicians, Researchers,

I presented a paper at the annual mindfulness conference in Worcester, Massachusetts. This conference has grown to more than 475 participants from 15 countries. I conducted a presentation-dialog entitled: "Challenges and Triumphs of Teaching Mindfulness in the Undergraduate Psychology Curriculum." I presented the format of semester-long mindfulness meditation course that I teach at the University of Vermont. This year, I met a researcher from Australia and mindfulness and yoga instructor from New Brunswick Canada and many others. I attended sessions on treating chronic pain, teaching mindfulness in the workplace and in the medical school, and the relationship between meditation and spirituality (the topic of a course that I teach: The Psychology of Transcendence). See the conference brochure here. Next year I will propose to do two presentations. First will be a 3-hour workshop on mindfulness for sports, in particular golf; the other will be another presentation dialog on my book, which should be just about to come out at that time. Mindfulness is a hot topic with a burgeoning of research, books, and programs. One interesting encounter was Dr. Kathleen Hall, founder of the Stress Institute and mindfulness-based TV network. She has taken mindfulness mainstream: Oprah, Cosmo, and more. Her approach is provocative. Does it dilute the message of mindfulness to take it mainstream and to deconstruct it into sound bites that have mass market appeal? Is the traditional approach too inaccessible to the average person, and by extension arrogant and presumptuous? What is lost and gained in this approach. I'm sure the debate will continue.

1 comment:

Delany Dean, JD, PhD said...

Arnold, I am sorry I was unable to attend your presentation, because your work is of great interest to me. Recently I have been teaching mindfulness in a university setting, but mostly to graduate students in counseling, not undergrads. I also developed and taught a program I called Mindfulness-Based Wellness, open to the whole campus. This question of "dilution" is really, really important; in fact, at my own (now, former) university, the question as to what components (of "mindfulness") are core, or necessary (esp. the question of "formal mindfulness practice") ultimately led to an intractable disagreement, after which the program was fundamentally changed and (in my opinion, and the opinion of other observers and participants) badly damaged. But that, as we say, is an empirical question, and time will tell. Meanwhile, Ruth Baer, Willoughby Britton (who also presented at the recent MBSR conference) and others are doing great work, specifically in the area of "homework" practice. I wrote a post summarizing their presentations and research, on my own blog. It's very exciting stuff.

Best wishes to you! Lovely blog!