Mastering meditation just took on a whole new form: Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts offers a Masters degree in Mindfulness Studies.
This one-of-a-kind program launched in the summer, has students tackling both mindfulness theory and practice. The MA’s overarching aim is to teach students how to apply mindfulness skills “to social, cultural, historical, organizational, and political case studies” as well as into their own professions.
Now we’re getting a peek into what it’s like to get a masters degree in mindfulness, including how students are using the program (one student is implementing mindfulness in hospice centers, another in schools).
One recent observation about the program, by writer Rebecca Greenfield, suggests there’s one major oversight in the program’s architecture: there’s no research component. She writes:
In 2007, the NIH declared that research on mindfulness had to be “more rigorous,” and since has funded 50 clinical trials, according to Time. People want to know more about the claims bolstering the mindfulness revolution. Research from an academic institution would provide further justification for mindfulness as an academic pursuit, and possibly highlight other professional implementations.
At the same time, dicussing the academic literature on mindfulness—a core component of the program—might actually further mindfulness research. As neuroscientists in the field have pointed out, there’s a lack of definition to the word “mindfulness,” and that ambiguity can trip up the labwork, such as choosing methodologies and comparing results between studies.
[04/29/14 updated 10/17/14]