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Mindful : December 2018
OUTCOMES-BASED EVIDENCE By far the most pressing question facing the field is also the most basic. What makes a good teacher of mindfulness—and do the qualities and experience most of us assume are impor- tant really make a difference to the people they are teaching? Surprisingly, no one knows, because very little solid research has been done. “ We are still at an early stage in building our understanding about competence assessment in the context of mindfulness-based training,” says Crane. “The research on the reliability and validity of the MBI:TAC is promising but pre- liminar y. So there is appropriate caution—but also considerable interest in proactively build- ing out understanding.” In the one controlled study that has been published, Crane and colleag ues Pauline Eva Ruijgrok-Lupton and Dusana Dorjee studied nine mindfulness-based stress reduction teachers with varying levels of experience and 31 people participating in their classes. The study, published in the journal Mindfulness in 2018, showed that well-being and reductions in perceived stress were signifi- cantly better for participants taught by teachers with an additional year of mindfulness-based teacher training and assessment. But no signifi- cant differences showed up in score increases for mindfulness, self-compassion, or other outcomes. A much larger study is now under way, sponsored by UMass Medical School, that should help shed more light on teacher compe- tency and student outcomes. Taking a mindful perspective For all the contention that the IMTA initially provoked, however, most of the people involved in the effort to move the profession forward are upbeat about the future—buoyed by their belief in the benefits of mindfulness and the ability of its practitioners to collaborate constructively. “ We all share the same values. We all wish the best for each other. How we enact that may be very different. There’s going to have to be some give and take. But I’m optimistic,” says Monteiro. “ I think we’re on the path of con- solidating what we mean by certification. What remains now is to see, is it working? Are our certified teachers doing what we are guaran- teeing they will do?” For his part, Dawa Phillips believes the current push-and-pull will ultimately help strengthen the movement. “ When people criticize the → December 2018 mindful 71 meditation