The Graduate Review


Mindfulness, cultivated through various types of meditative practices, is a way of being which intentionally focuses on non-judgmental, present-moment experience. In Western psychology, self is typically reified, i.e., treated as a fixed entity. In contrast, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) – the evidence-based program that teaches such meditative practices – implicitly de-reifies “the self.” MBSR encourages practitioners (and psychologists) to reframe self as fluid: as a process of perceptual transitions experienced moment by moment. This shift in perception has been termed reperceiving by MBSR scholars. This project explores whether individual meditators report this shift. Semi-structured interviews (N = 20) were conducted with students, faculty and college staff who completed the MBSR program. The interviews were transcribed then each discursive turn was coded for content using the tools of Grounded Theory. The content analysis began with a general inquiry (Do participants report moments of reperceiving?) then focused specifically on how re-perceiving was portrayed. The specific research question, then, was “what shifts in language indicate that participants experience reperceiving?” Initial Coding of the 1,873 discursive turns yielded 993 codes; of these, eleven were deemed relevant to the research question: “re-perceive,” “decenter,” “detach,” “self-reflect,” “insight,” “perspective taking,” “judging,” “judge self,” “self-compassion,” “self acceptance” and “self.” Focused Coding systematically examined the subset of data (n = 91 turns) for thematic patterns. Three distinct categories (Intention, Attention, and Attitude)were clearly observed. Within those three, nine sub-categories were specified, identifying and clarifying subtle aspects of the reperceiving process. These nine subcategories have implications for deepening our understanding of this novel concept. This study contributes to the MBSR research by further exploring de-reification of “self.”

Note on the Author

As a graduate student, I was able to continue my interest in MBSR during my two-year Graduate Research Assistantship, working with Dr. Mamberg in the Clinical Psychology department. As an undergraduate student, I assisted with Dr. Mamberg’s larger study in my role as a transcriptionist. Being able to experience the MBSR class as well as continuing my meditation practice gave me particular insight into the experiences of our participants. I have since graduated from the Master of Clinical Psychology program, and for my work on this project, I was awarded the Distinguished Graduate Research Award. I have recently started my work as a clinician at a local community mental health clinic.

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