Christian-informed mindfulness : a theoretical and empirical exploration.
Mindfulness is a theory and practice skill that originates from Buddhism. Most who study and use mindfulness do so by drawing from Buddhist precepts, values and practices. This dissertation explored and evaluated a Christian theory and practice framework that addresses a gap in the social work research and practice literature on mindfulness. The goal of the dissertation research was to provide theoretical and empirical support for those who seek a Christian alternative to existing mindfulness-based interventions. The researcher first identified Christian precepts, values and practices to help establish a Christian framework of mindfulness by comparing and contrasting Buddhist and Christian thought. This dissertation focused on Mahayana Buddhism and the mystical and contemplative branches of Christianity which were informative. Apophatic and kataphatic prayers in Christianity can assist those who desire a Christian-informed mindfulness practice because they induce an experience of transcendence and unity of the believer and the divine, leading to attainment of spiritual knowledge. Secondly, the researcher studied the effects of an MP3 Christian-informed mindfulness-based intervention innovation with social work and psychology students from two universities using a randomized controlled design. Results indicated that the intervention was effective in producing mindfulness states in the study sample but not in reducing their perceived stress. Recommendation by the researcher included expanding the study to a larger sample, replication of the study with a client population, and using a psychometric measure to observe changes in stress instead of a self-reported measure. Lastly, the researcher explored the experiences of nine Christian-identified practitioners who used mindfulness-based interventions with clients using a descriptive phenomenological design. The results of the study indicated that the practitioners, when using mindfulness-based interventions, sensed that God was present with them. The presence of God supported the therapeutic work by providing relevant insight for the practitioners and their clients. A need for formal training for practitioners in both third-wave behavioral therapies and a Christian-based mindfulness intervention was identified. Recommendations included future studies on clients’ perspectives and further training for practitioners to include mindfulness drawn from other religious frameworks.