My husband and I collaborated on the mindfulness research. We just submitted abstract to the International Association of Cross Cultural Psychology Conference (University of Bremen, Germany). Read our abstract below
Mindfulness in Thailand: A Phenomenological Analysis
In recent years Western psychology has developed a burgeoning interest in mindfulness. Although preliminary evidence supports the efficacy of several mindfulness-based approaches to psychotherapy (e.g., Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Depression), there are subtle though important distinctions between contemporary Western and the traditional Buddhist operationalizations of mindfulness. Relatedely, Baer (2003) cautions that current mindfulness-based interventions risk overlooking important elements of the long tradition from which mindfulness meditation originates, and Kabat-Zinn (2003) warns that if the prevailing kinds of mindfulness research and theorizing are continued exclusively, they may prove limiting, distorting, and ethnocentric. Therefore, in this presentation the first author, a native Thai Buddhist woman, explores the differences between the nature and function of her culturally inculcated Theravada Buddhist mindfulness and contemporary Western psychotherapeutic mindfulness. In the second part of the presentation we review the results of a study in which we assessed Western mindfulness in 24 Thai Theravada Buddhist monks using self-report measures of mindfulness developed in the US. In providing support for our hypotheses, the quantitative results revealed that the monks had equivalent (and on some subscales lower) levels of Western mindfulness relative to American college students with no meditation experience, and the qualitative results suggest that the monks conceptualized mindfulness in different terms than in the West. Implications for future mindfulness research and therapy practice are addressed.