Experiences of Mindful Education: Phenomenological Analysis of MBCT Exercises in a Graduate Class Context
This paper uses phenomenological psychology both as a qualitative inquiry and a pedagogic tool in order to understand how graduate students experience the exercises of the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy program in a classroom setting. This understanding is necessary for both teachers and researchers of contemplative pedagogy to ensure that students are helped and not harmed by these practices, as well as to tailor teacher responses to the plurality of individual experience. Furthermore, it aids students in becoming aware of and articulating the changes they are undergoing through contemplative practices. This paper shares summaries of the autophenomenologies of three participants which are then interpreted by the research team. These idiographic descriptions are examined on four themes: 1) textures of attention, 2) “using” mindfulness to relax, 3) normative consciousness, and 4) pedagogical dangers and process. The analysis suggests that mindful education needs to take care in understanding the limits of our ability to express matters concerning the subtleties of how we pay attention, consider the complex interplay in non-clinical populations between “being mode” and “doing mode,” and how that connects to our interpretation of “non-judgment” in mindfulness.