Disciplined improvisation: Characteristics of inquiry in mindfulness-based teaching
Format: Journal Article
Publication Year: 2014
Pages: 1104 - 1114
Source ID: shanti-sources-82726
Collection: Contemplative Pedagogy in Higher Education
Abstract: Evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is rapidly growing as interest in this field expands. By contrast, there are few empirical analyses of the pedagogy of MBSR and MBCT. Development of the evidence base concerning the teaching of MBCT or MBSR would support the integrity of the approach in the context of rapid expansion. This paper describes an applied conversation analysis (CA) of the characteristics of inquiry in the MBSR and MBCT teaching process. Audio-recordings of three 8-week MBCT and MBSR classes, with 24, 12, and 6 participants, were transcribed and systematically examined. The study focused on the teacher-led interactive inquiry which takes place in each session after a guided meditation practice. The study describes and analyzes three practices within the inquiry process that can be identified in sequences of talk: turn-taking talk involving questions and reformulations; the development of participant skills in a particular way of describing experience; and talk that constructs intersubjective connection and affiliation within the group. CA enables fine-grained analysis of the interactional work of mindfulness-based inquiry. Inquiry is a process of disciplined improvisation which is both highly specific to the conditions of the moment it took place in and uses repeated and recognizable patterns of interaction.