Date of Award

Spring 5-15-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Social Work (DSW)

First Advisor

Ram A. Cnaan, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Elizabeth R. Mackenzie, Ph.D.

Abstract

ABSTRACT

THE ROLE OF MINDFULNESS AS A BUFFER AGAINST PSYCHOSOCIAL STRESS AMONG AFRICAN-AMERICAN MEN

Thomas E. Owens

Ram A. Cnaan, Ph.D., Dissertation Chair

The purpose of this qualitative study is to seek knowledge from African American men who have practiced mindfulness meditation (or yoga or transcendental meditation) on a regular basis and to ascertain if they were able to buffer the emotional, mental and social impact of psychosocial stressors due to the use of this practice. It will also be determined, by their shared retrospective experiences, if and how they managed to achieve a level of well-being, which may have enabled them to be active, connected and positive contributors in their respective communities.

Between the months of April to June 2016, fourteen African American men consented to participate in the research study. The ages of the participants ranged from 27 to 61. Eight of the participants completed an eight-week Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course either at the University of Pennsylvania or Thomas Jefferson University. Five of the participants were self-taught (either by a friend, a relative, the internet, blogs, books or the use of an app) and one participant received formal training in yoga instruction in India. Semi-structured interviews were conducted which lasted approximately 60 to 90 minutes. The participants shared their retrospective stories of lived experiences before the practice of mindfulness meditation and after the regular practice of mindfulness meditation.

The findings indicated the emergence of six themes: 1.) many mindfulness modalities,

2.) racism is experienced as a barrier to well-being, 3.) applying mindfulness at work, 4.) primacy of relational stress, 5.) mindfulness promotes self-regulation, and 6.) the mindful child. Limitations included a lack of socio-economic diversity among the participants. Implications for social work practice, future research, and the conclusion are discussed.

Available for download on Thursday, May 31, 2018

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