Stillness and Motion: An Empirical Investigation of Mindfulness and Self-Actualization

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The primary aim of this study was to promote an empirically-based dialogue between Western psychology and Buddhism. To this end, we explored one type of Western psychology (Humanistic Psychology, based on Rogers and Maslow) and one type of Buddhist tradition (a Westernized interpretation of Theravada). Even more specifically, we explored the empirical relationship between mindfulness and self-actualization (SA), exemplars of each discipline. A cross-sectional design was employed to assess correlations among study variables. Participants were 204 students attending midsize Eastern (Fordham) or Western (Boise State) US universities. Participants completed general measures of mindfulness (Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS)) and SA (Short Index of Self-Actualization (SISA)). They also filled out multifaceted measures of each construct: the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills (KIMS) and the Brief Index of Self-Actualization – Revised (BISA-R). A demographic form was also administered. While mindfulness and SA were not associated with the demographic variables of age, gender, or ethnicity/race, they were associated with one another in various ways. The findings indicate similarities and differences between the two constructs. This study provides evidence for empirical links between mindfulness and SA, suggesting points of contact between Buddhist and humanistic psychologies more generally. Specifically, these findings provide an empirical starting point for increased cross-fertilization between these two traditions.