Publication Date

2004

Abstract

Mindfulness, in the sense that this research was focused on, refers to its original form taught by the Buddha, where its purpose is to help people cultivate themselves for the betterment of the greater world. This phenomenological study was conducted to describe the essence of being mindful in youth outreach. Participants were a sample of five U.S.-based Taiwan Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers who visited schools for at-risk youth. The research question was: From the perspective of volunteers of the Tzu Chi Community Youth Outreach Program, what is the essential structure of being mindful when interacting with at-risk youth in alternative placement schools? This research used an adaptation of the VanKaam and Colaizzi phenomenological analysis methods. It found that mindfulness is about training the mind’s capacity for unconditional kindness and compassion. Selflessness is the essence for being mindful in outreach, requiring genuine commitment and temperance to broaden one’s awareness in the interest of the youth, and using that insight to direct one’s behavior. Findings have implications for the inclusion of mindfulness into education at all levels, where it can be valued as a foundation for good teaching practices that not only benefit the student, but also society. It demonstrates being mindful as a tangible way for outreach workers to give at-risk youth the means to help their entire lives, creating hope for their future. This research relays an underlying message that mindfulness is about knowing one’s intentionality and directing it to bring about a harmonious society—that creating lasting positive change begins with acting from the right state of mind.

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