Mindfulness, stress and self: an ontological shift

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dc.contributor.advisor Tara Brascamp en
dc.contributor.author Fraser, Debra Jayne en
dc.date.accessioned 2010-07-29T00:41:54Z en
dc.date.available 2010-07-29T00:41:54Z en
dc.date.issued 2008 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/2292/5890 en
dc.description.abstract In this study a six week mindfulness programme is delivered to twenty nine health care professionals. Research questions address: what participants’ discourse can tell us about their experiences of stress over the course of the programme, what the changes in discourse suggest that is theoretically useful to the study of mindfulness, and what an exploration of ontological underpinnings can provide to develop our understanding? And finally, whether this exploration supports a useful theory on both mindfulness and stress? Daily diary, interview and email data is gathered on participants’ discourses on stress and mindfulness. A Social Constructionist epistemology and Grounded Theory methods are used to analyse the data. Most research and commentary on mindfulness is positivist and quantitative relating to health outcomes and psychological processes. This leaves a gap in the literature that this qualitative study addresses. A main theme in participants’ discourse on stress relates to feeling overwhelmed and powerless. Participants talk of the causes of and solutions to stress and of themselves and others as ‘bad and wrong’. This discourse reflects a ‘rational self’ view through the use of mechanistic, rationalistic and individualistic terms to convey experience. This ‘rational self’ view is grounded in a Cartesian ontology or worldview. In the discourse on stress, participants’ appear to view themselves ideally as rational, autonomous, non-emotional and in control. A core social process is that with mindfulness training participants’ discourse on stress changes from a disempowered to an empowered view of self. In mindfulness training participants are asked to adopt an alternative to the Cartesian conceptualisation of self. They are asked to practice I am not my thoughts and acceptance of all aspects of experience in the present moment. After mindfulness training, participants’ discourse is of more calmness, peace, insight, awareness, creativity and a sense of expanded time and space. These discourses reflect an empowered view of self and a sense of agency. The discourses are compared to those before mindfulness training, and to those of the non-finishers and the stress literatures. An alternative ontological view of the nature of ‘being’ or ‘reality’ and its resultant discourse has implications for stress research and mindfulness research and practice. The conceptualisation of ‘being’ evident in the Buddhist origins of mindfulness (concepts of ‘no self’ and experience as essentially ‘empty’) is not generally explored in the mainstream literature. Literatures on stress, mindfulness and self provide a framework from which to explore participants’ discourses. It appears that mindfulness programmes in the West have been uplifted and separated from their Eastern origins and rearticulated within a Cartesian ontology. It is important to address questions on mindfulness and stress ontologically to provide a broader range of options for future study, treatment approaches and practice. en
dc.publisher ResearchSpace@Auckland en
dc.relation.ispartof PhD Thesis - University of Auckland en
dc.relation.isreferencedby UoA2035648 en
dc.rights Items in ResearchSpace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated. en
dc.rights.uri https://researchspace.auckland.ac.nz/docs/uoa-docs/rights.htm en
dc.title Mindfulness, stress and self: an ontological shift en
dc.type Thesis en
thesis.degree.grantor The University of Auckland en
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en
thesis.degree.name PhD en
dc.date.updated 2010-07-29T00:41:54Z en
dc.rights.holder Copyright: The author en

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