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20-06-2015 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 6/2015

Mindfulness 6/2015

Engagement in Buddhist Meditation Practices Among Non-Buddhists: Associations with Religious Identity and Practice

Mindfulness > Uitgave 6/2015
Sarah Bowen, Aaron L. Bergman, Katie Witkiewitz


The relationship between contemporary mindfulness practice and its Buddhist roots has generated debate as popularity in secular clinical contexts increases. Researchers, clinicians, and practitioners question the ethics of secularizing these practices, as well the potential barriers of offering mindfulness programs in the context of Buddhism, especially for individuals who practice or identify with non-Buddhist religions. However, to date, there has been little empirical exploration of these associations. Using a sample from a previous study of 173 inmates in a minimum-security correctional facility, the study compared individuals who voluntarily participated in an intensive Buddhist Vipassana mediation course (n = 57) with those who chose not to participate (n = 116). The associations between religious affiliation, participation in an intensive meditation course, and post-course changes in engagement in non-Buddhist religious practices were assessed. Results show that participation in the Vipassana course was not significantly associated with religious identification or level of engagement prior to taking the course or with engagement in religious practices 3 months following their release from jail. These results suggest that mindfulness meditation, even when taught in a traditional Buddhist context, may be attractive and acceptable to those of other religious faiths, and involvement in such practices does not threaten engagement in non-Buddhist religious practices.

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