Skip to main content Skip to search
Mindfulness, Compassion, and the Foundations of Global Health Ethics
Practitioner's Guide to Ethics and Mindfulness-Based Interventions
Format: Book Chapter
Publication Year: 2017
Publisher: Springer International Publishing
Place of Publication: Cham
Pages: 295 - 322
Source ID: shanti-sources-68451
Abstract: Mindfulness is generally considered a characteristic or quality of individual persons. Its focus is primarily inward, directed toward one’s thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations, as well as toward one’s immediate environment. Yet the accelerating pace of globalization compels us to consider mindfulness in a broader context. Using global health as an example, I explore the essential role of mindfulness in fostering ethical decision-making and in nurturing compassionate, effective action at the global level. I also explore how mindfulness and compassion might contribute to the emerging field of global health ethics. Global health is a rapidly growing field, dedicated to alleviating suffering, improving health, and achieving health equity. It is rooted in the value of compassion. It operates in ethically challenging environments characterized by extreme disparities in wealth and power, vast geographic distances, partisan hegemony, divided loyalties, and crushing poverty. Mindfulness can enhance ethical decision-making in global health through clarifying personal and collective values, enhancing empathy, regulating emotion, facilitating perception, fostering insight, and opening practitioners to a direct experience of interconnectedness and interdependence, which lie at the heart of global health’s universal values. In addition to mindfulness, a mature global health ethics must be rooted in compassion and draw on a variety of influences, such as bioethics, public health ethics, Ubuntu, and the ethics of care. Practitioners must be able to simultaneously perceive the “one and the many,” the global and local, populations and individuals, “numbers” and “faces.” In this respect and many others, mindfulness and compassion have much to offer the nascent field of global health ethics.