Mindfulness in Health Education and Health Promotion

Mindfulness in Health Education and Health Promotion

Michelle Lee D'Abundo, Cara Lynn Sidman, Debbie Heller
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6260-5.ch006
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The term “mindfulness” has been widely referenced in research and popular media. In order to help Americans be healthier, innovative approaches to well-being like the practice of mindfulness are needed in the field of health promotion. The purpose of this chapter is to apply the concept of mindfulness to the field of health education and promotion. Topics covered include the origins and practice of mindfulness, measurement, and well-being related mindfulness research. Applications of mindfulness in health education and promotion are provided with specific emphasis on smoking and cancer. Finally, mindfulness in the workplace is described in depth with practical examples for worksite health education and promotion.
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Background And Definitions

The concept of mindfulness has become increasingly popular, yet lacks a uniform definition. A common cited definition, by Jon Kabat-Zinn, a leader and catalyst to the mindfulness movement, is the following: “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (Kabat-Zinn, 1994, p. 4). Kabat-Zinn more recently proposed the following operational working definition, “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment by moment” (Kabat-Zinn, 2003, p. 145). Then in 2004, after a series of meetings, a group of researchers unanimously agreed that mindfulness involves two components (Bishop et al., 2004): 1) self-regulation of attention on the present moment, and 2) an orientation to curiosity, openness, and acceptance toward the experiences in the present moment. Another mindfulness definition provides further clarification regarding its components, “mindfulness can refer to any one or a combination of three things: 1) a form of awareness, 2) the practice that elevates that form of awareness, and 3) the application of that awareness for specific perceptual and behavioral goals” (Young, 2013, p. 14). Further contributing to the definition of mindfulness, Shapiro, Carlson, Astin, and Freedman (2006) posited a theory that mindfulness contains three axioms, intention, attitude, and attention, or “observing one’s moment-to-moment, internal and external experience…in the here and now” (Shapiro et al., 2006, p. 4).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Health Education and Promotion: A wide variety of approaches to promoting health and well-being in a variety of settings.

Mindfulness: “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” ( Kabat-Zinn, 1994 , p. 4).

Measurement: The process of assessing methods of measuring mindfulness including psychometric properties such as validity and reliability.

Workplace Wellness: Strategies applied in the workplace to promote health and well-being.

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction: Mindfulness practices focused on reducing stress including breathing, body scans and yoga.

Well-Being: Positive perspective of health by multiple factors involving the individual, behavior, and the environment.

Meditation: Meditation is concentrating on the breath, and watching one’s own mind and body exactly how they are in the present moment ( Gunaratana, 2002 ).

Stress: Negative and positive experiences and effects associated with challenges and transition.

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