The scientific study of mindfulness has increased exponentially over the past 15 years, helping both to establish mindfulness’ importance for well-being, and providing insight into the mechanisms by which mindfulness training promotes these beneficial effects. Concurrently, mindfulness in the public sphere has become an umbrella term for a variety of practices, leading to a suggestion that it is a one-size-fits-all technique for positive transformation. This presentation will review evidence for several distinct capacities associated with mindfulness training, illustrating concrete situations in which these capacities may be beneficial or detrimental depending on the practitioner’s context, values, and goals. It will be suggested that a complete model of mindful transformation in secular Western culture needs to explicitly direct attention to values, goals and intentions surrounding mindfulness practice, an approach which is arguably more consistent with the eastern traditions from which many of these traditions and techniques have been appropriated. In doing so, we may become empowered to pragmatically structure how mindfulness is taught and practiced to more powerfully address pervasive sources of suffering in the modern world.
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