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Transcult Psychiatry. 2015 Aug;52(4):447-69. doi: 10.1177/1363461515598949.

Mindfulness in cultural context.

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McGill University

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Mindfulness meditation and other techniques drawn from Buddhism have increasingly been integrated into forms of psychotherapeutic intervention. In much of this work, mindfulness is understood as a mode of awareness that is present-centered and nonevaluative. This form of awareness is assumed to have intrinsic value in promoting positive mental health and adaptation by interrupting discursive thoughts that give rise to suffering. However, in the societies where it originated, mindfulness meditation is part of a larger system of Buddhist belief and practice with strong ethical and moral dimensions. Extracting techniques like mindfulness meditation from the social contexts in which they originate may change the nature and effects of the practice. The papers in this issue of Transcultural Psychiatry explore the implications of a cultural and contextual view of mindfulness for continued dialogue between Buddhist thought and psychiatry. This introductory essay considers the meanings of mindfulness meditation in cultural context and the uses of mindfulness as a therapeutic intervention in contemporary psychiatry and psychology.


Buddhism; cultural adaptation; meditation; mindfulness; psychotherapy

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