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01-06-2015 | COMMENTARY | Uitgave 3/2015

Mindfulness 3/2015

Assessing Mindfulness in Multiple Contexts: a Comment on Christopher, Woodrich, and Tiernan (2014)

Mindfulness > Uitgave 3/2015
Ruth A. Baer


This paper comments on a recent study by Christopher et al. (Mindfulness 5:145–160, 2014), in which 14 Zen Buddhist priests and laypersons residing in a monastery in the Northwestern US were interviewed about the extent to which the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the Toronto Mindfulness Scale capture the nature of mindfulness as they understand and practice it. Participants identified strengths and weaknesses of both questionnaires; findings were discussed in terms of the cultural validity of the measures. Because mindfulness is taught, practiced, and studied in both Buddhist and Western contexts, including contemporary medical, mental health, educational, and research environments, this commentary argues that at least three domains of knowledge are important in developing measures of mindfulness with broad applicability: (1) knowledge of mindfulness as described, taught, and practiced in Buddhist traditions; (2) knowledge of mindfulness as described, taught, and practiced in contemporary Western interventions and training programs; and (3) knowledge of psychological assessment, especially psychometrics and questionnaire construction. A balanced perspective that explicitly acknowledges the value for health and well-being of both Buddhist and Western psychological conceptions of mindfulness is recommended.

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