1 Department of Education - Education, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University2 Danish School of Education - Pædagogisk Sociologi, Emdrup, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University3 Danish School of Education - Pædagogisk Sociologi, Emdrup, Danish School of Education, Arts, Aarhus University
Mindfulness is a way to practice 'healthy mindedness' – a form of self help that has been the subject for research and development of a number of new significant self-technologies, therapy and meditation treatment methods. To be mindful can help people to feel more relaxed (serenity) and fully alive. The article aims at describing realistic expectations to the contribution of mindfulness to health education work in the field of mental health. The article discuss ways in which mindfulnesss is connected with established health education in the mental health promotion field, and ways in which mindfulness breaks with established health education. Interest in utilising mindfulness and mindfulness-inspired methods in health-education intervention has increased in recent years. Mindfulness is seen here as an answer to how to achieve more accepting presence, and thereby a healthier mental life. In the beginning, cognitive approaches were central, but these have been gradually replaced by spiritual, phenomenological or existential perspectives. The article takes a historical point of departure in Williams James’ (1902) groundbreaking study of spiritual experiences related to 'healthy-mindedness' and 'mind-cure' and explains a series of characteristics and documented effects of contemporary Buddhist psychological or spiritual inspired practice of mindfulness. It is concluded that mindfulness challenges established health education and the outlined understandings of mental health by breaking with the action orientation they rely on. Here, focus is on potential opportunities of action and achievement of objectives. The break means that the focus on human action potential is replaced with a focus on experience and non-judgmental attention. Future is replaced with present or eternity.