Monday, December 4, 2017
Room 461, School of Population and Public Health (2206 East Mall)
Supervisor: Dr. Kimberly Schonert-Reichl (HDLC)
Supervisory Committee: Dr. Bruno Zumbo (MERM)
University Examiners: Dr. Richard Young (CNPS) & Dr. Mark Beauchamp (KIN)
External Examiner: Professor Nancy Heath (McGill University)
Title: The Effects of Mindfulness and Kindness Meditation on Teacher Emotional Abilities, Compassion, and Prosocial Behavior
Mindfulness meditation (MM) aims to cultivate present-moment awareness and acceptance of all emotions, cognitions, and experiences. Kindness meditation (KM) aims to cultivate positive emotions and compassion toward oneself, one’s friends and family, difficult others, strangers, and all living beings. The present research found that six weeks of digital MM and KM training reduced atypically high levels of negative affect and stress in classroom teachers. MM and KM were also found to enhance prosocial behavior in teachers compared to a music relaxation active control group. Interestingly, MM increased the cognitive facet of compassion (vs. KM) and KM increased the emotional facet of compassion (vs. MM), and MM increased punishment behavior of unfair others in an economic game (vs. KM), whereas KM decreased punishment behavior of unfair others (vs. MM). Therefore, MM and KM may exert unique effects on teacher compassion and prosocial behavior. Additionally, the extent to which MM and KM influenced teacher outcomes largely depended on how many times a week teachers meditated: about four meditations per week were needed to observe many practice-induced changes. Teachers reported digital MM and KM to be moderately to highly engaging, efficacious, and enjoyable. This research provides preliminary support for digital meditation practices as accessible and effective trainings for enhancing teacher social-emotional well-being.