Meditation in applied settings

In the two chapters exploring the application of meditation and mindfulness in work and school settings, there is encouragement for practitioners and researchers to extend research. It is important to know, regardless of the more basic scientific questions about the precise mechanisms of efficacy, whether meditation and mindfulness can help create cultures in schools and workplaces that are more conducive to human well-being. Katherine Weare’s chapter suggests the value of multi-component interventions in schools to create such cultures (in environments that often suppress learning, motivation, and growth) and argues for a growth in interventions and research. Frank Bond and colleagues in Chapter 11 describe their applications of acceptance and commitment therapy, with strong components of mindfulness, in the workplace. They have delivered such interventions to over 2000 employees across 50 organizations and trained hundreds of psychologists to use their interventions for people at work. And there is supporting evidence for the powerful effects of such interventions in the workplace. Fredrickson and colleagues (2008) conducted a study with 139 working adults, training them in loving kindness meditation and finding beneficial effects over time on positive emotions, mindfulness, purpose in life, social support, illness symptoms, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms.

Both chapters provide impressive evidence of attempts to apply mindfulness and meditation practices in challenging environments where knowledge about how to create conditions that enhance human well-being and flourishing is much needed. Schools and workplaces are often characterized by noise, frenetic activity, overwork, stress, anger, conflict, and abuse. Finding effective ways to create conditions that enhance well-being and growth and development is a core challenge for the discipline of psychology.

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