Author Information

Julia FieldFollow


Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) helps people to manage stress reactivity through contemplative practices such as meditation. The creator of the program, Kabat-Zinn, (1994) defines mindfulness as “…paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally” (p. 4). Shapiro et al. (2006) clarified this definition as consisting of three mechanisms of mindfulness. In particular, their mechanism “intention” captures Kabat-Zinn’s phrase “on purpose.” Historically, mindfulness practices were intended to cultivate compassion and enlightenment; thus, these should be included in a psychological model of mindfulness (Shapiro & Schwartz, 2000). In keeping with their approach, this project explored the concept of intentionality as used by MBSR practitioners. The literature shows most participants begin the course expecting to achieve concrete outcomes. During the course, there is often a shift in their understanding of mindfulness practice: from goal-attainment to a way of being. The guiding research question therefore was, “After taking the MBSR course, how do participants discuss shifts in their intention to practice mindfulness?” The data were semi-structured conversations conducted with participants (N = 14) who completed the MBSR program. The method of analysis used was Grounded Theory (GT), a systematic method of content analysis (Charmaz, 1995). This entailed four procedures: (1) interviews were recorded, (2) audio recordings were carefully transcribedverbatim, (3) Open Coding exhaustively captured the content of participants’ responses, (4) Focused Coding explored a subset of the coded content. Using a process of constant comparison, codes were sub-divided, revised and integrated to create Themes across participants. Analyses were conducted utilizing four recurring codes: “intention,” “expectation,” “pre/post-course changes,” and “mindfulness definition.” Two themes emerged: content-oriented and process-oriented shifts in intentions to practice. These findings support the idea that any model of mindfulness ought to take practitioners’ intentions into account.

Note on the Author

Julia Field graduated in Spring, 2014 with a B.S. with honors in Psychology. Her year-long research project was completed in the spring of 2014 under the mentorship of Dr. Michelle H. Mamberg (Psychology) and made possible with funding provided by several Adrian Tinsley Program research grants. Ms. Field presented this project at the New England Psychology Association (NEPA), in Lewiston, ME in October, 2014.

Rights Statement

Articles published in The Undergraduate Review are the property of the individual contributors and may not be reprinted, reformatted, repurposed or duplicated, without the contributor’s consent.

Included in

Psychology Commons