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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning mindfulness : dialogue and inquiry from an action-theoretical perspective Dyer, Brenda Lee


The processes of learning mindfulness were explored in this case study by analyzing the transcripts of teacher-student interactions in the Dialogue and Inquiry periods of a Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course. The following research questions guided the inquiry: What is the process of learning mindfulness through Dialogue and Inquiry of an MBSR course? How does the social learning of mindfulness in Dialogue and Inquiry construct the experience of mindfulness? The qualitative “action-project method” was used to collect and analyse the data which were comprised of class dialogues, self-confrontation interviews (video process-recall interviews) and weekly logs gathered over nine weekly sessions. The analysis of these multi-perspectival data offered a comprehensive insight into the mindfulness-teacher and students’ internal cognitive, emotional and somatic processes in learning (and teaching) mindfulness, their individual and joint goals concerning mindfulness, behavioural manifestations of mindfulness, and lastly, the social meanings of mindfulness. The action processes identified and described in the findings of this study suggest that, while the mindfulness project was the super ordinate class joint project, it was embedded in and constituted by a concurrent relationship project made up of teacher-student, student-student, and self connections. The mindfulness curriculum was to a large part embodied by the teacher, who initiated many of the actions in the dialogue in a teacher-led inquiry, drawing the students into joint sub-ordinate projects of noticing (attention), describing (language) and understanding (insight). Further, the joint projects of helping (compassion) and relating (connection), often implicit and spontaneous, informed both the mindfulness and relationship projects. The findings offered theoretical, pedagogical and clinical implications for the teaching and learning of mindfulness. The study also shifted the gaze from mindfulness as an individual cognitive phenomenon to a dynamic relational process.

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