Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings
Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings

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Mindfulness in mental health and prison settings

4 Criticisms of mindfulness

Towards the end of the reading ‘Mindfulness’ you learned that there have been many criticisms of the ways in which mindfulness has been applied so far. In the Radio 4 Beyond Belief programme you will listen to shortly, you will hear three experts discussing mindfulness applications, and the issues with them. The speakers are Buddhist teacher Christopher Titmuss [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] from Gaia House Buddhist Retreat Centre, Chris Cullan from the University of Oxford Mindfulness and Rebecca Crane from Bangor Centre for Mindfulness Research. Chris and Rebecca are key UK researchers in this area, and have been involved with the Mindful Nation UK report and the development of mindfulness-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

Now listen to BBC Beyond Belief: Mindfulness. We recommend that you listen to the final section of the programme, from 18 minutes and 30 seconds. However, the whole episode, with more discussion of what mindfulness is and how it relates to meditation and other spiritual practices, is available at this link.

Activity 4 Ethical mindfulness

Based on your learning from this course and the Beyond Belief episode, decide whether each of the forms of mindfulness education listed here is ‘attention training’ or ‘ethical mindfulness’ (the distinction made towards the end of the Beyond Belief programme).

  1. Teaching mindfulness skills in the military to help soldiers to be better at targeting the opponent, and coping with any post-traumatic stress disorder they experience.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is a.

  1. Engaging all staff in an organisation in an ongoing dialogue about what can be done to create a work environment where people treat themselves and others compassionately, and work towards ensuring that the organisation operates in the most ethical way possible.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is b.

  1. Giving children in school a mindfulness class once a week to help improve their attention.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is a.

  1. Giving politicians an eight-week mindfulness training course to help them to deal with the stress of their occupation.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is a.

  1. General practitioners sending depressed patients on a brief mindfulness course, given that it has been found to be effective with depression.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is a.

  1. Bringing mindfulness movements together with social justice movements to consider where human suffering comes from and how it might be addressed (e.g. war, discrimination, our impact on the environment, the treatment of refugees, austerity measures, etc.).

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is b.

  1. Building mindfulness into school curriculums in terms of both practices and an ongoing discussion at all levels about how to make the school a more mindful and compassionate culture for everybody there.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is b.

  1. Inviting politicians into a sustained engagement with Buddhist mindfulness and compassion in order to think about the implications of their policies for increasing or decreasing human suffering.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is b.

  1. Providing staff in an organisation with optional mindfulness classes in order to enhance productivity.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is a.

  1. Encouraging people on mindfulness courses to develop – through mindfulness – a kind of ‘clear-seeing’ into the consequences of their actions for other people, and how the dynamics of power and privilege operate in the world.

a. 

attention training


b. 

ethical mindfulness


The correct answer is b.

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