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Assessing “Western” Mindfulness among Thai Theravāda Buddhist Monks

1 January 2009

Abstract

Mindfulness has its roots in Eastern contemplative traditions and is rapidly gaining popularity in Western psychology. However, questions remain regarding the validity of Western operationalizations of mindfulness. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to assess the applicability of several Western mindfulness measures among a sample of Thai Theravāda Buddhist monks. Twenty-four monks recruited from Buddhist temples in Thailand participated in the study. The monks evinced similar associations between mindfulness and related variables as American validation study samples did, and on two facets of mindfulness the monks’ mean scores were greater than an American college student sample. However, the American sample endorsed significantly higher scores on three other facets of mindfulness. These results raise concerns about whether these scales are measuring mindfulness as it is conceptualised in a Buddhist context. Future research with larger samples is needed to further assess the cultural validity and measurement equivalence of Western mindfulness measures across cultural groups.


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