Mindfulness-Based Heroism: Creating Enlightened Heroes

Journal of Humanistic Psychology 5 (58):501-524 (2018)
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The field of mindfulness and the emerging science of heroism have a common interest in the causes and conditions of selfless altruism though up to this point there has been little cross-pollination. However, there is increasing evidence that mindfulness training delivers heroically relevant qualities such as increased attentional functioning, enhanced primary sensory awareness, greater conflict monitoring, increased cognitive control, reduced fear response, and an increase in loving kindness and self-sacrificing behaviors. Predicated on the notion of a “no self,” traditional mindfulness and its focus on enlightenment and selfless service may in fact be ideally suited to the development of the elusive “trait” (predictable) versus “state” (intermittent) heroic character. Interweaving observations and questions drawn from the science of heroism, the article explores the relevant theory, practices, and scientific outcomes of mindfulness. It finds that there is evidence that heroically relevant qualities are trainable with the suite of mindfulness techniques and that an enduring experience of selflessness and service of others (the enlightened hero) may well be within the grasp of the serious practitioner.

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Patrick Jones
Murdoch University


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