The rising interest in mindfulness-based programs in education reflects a growing need for schools to respond to the wellbeing of educators. Benefits of mindfulness-based programs have been largely measured at an individual educator level with less attention paid to group processes and their effects. The objectives of the present study were to explore the experiences and perceived effects of cultivating mindfulness on the personal and professional lives of educators.
Methods: Seventeen educators from five schools who learned and practiced mindfulness communally with their school colleagues for 8 weeks participated in an interview 4 weeks after the Reconnected mindfulness-based training. The interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed using interpretative phenomenological analysis. We used the analyses to develop a three-stage process of communal mindfulness practice and a model of the development of a community of practice.
Results: The exploration of cultivating mindfulness within a school community illustrated the experiences of individual educators in this context and highlighted the influence of the school environment on their need for and experiences of mindfulness practice, and formed a three-stage learning process of making connections in the two experientially intertwined domains of self and colleagues. The findings provided some evidence showing how mindfulness meditation that is highly individual in its nature can reduce a sense of isolation and promote a sense of connectedness among heterogenous school members and how processes of communal mindfulness practice can contribute to evolving a community of practice at schools.
Conclusions: As much as a school community needs mindfulness, as a domain of knowledge, to engage community members in learning through co-participation, practicing mindfulness requires a community that connects members and supports them to practice together.