Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 37, Issue 4, pp 401–417 | Cite as

Mindfulness, Mysticism, and Narrative Medicine



Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are rapidly emerging in health care settings for their role in reducing stress and improving physical and mental health. In such settings, the religious roots and affiliations of MBIs are downplayed, and the possibilities for developing spiritual, even mystical, states of consciousness are minimized. This article helps rebalance this trend by using the tools of medical humanities and narrative medicine to explore MBI as a bridge between medical and spiritual approaches to health related suffering. My narrative medicine method draws insights from the arts and humanities that are rarely used in standard clinical research but are increasingly common among medical humanities and narrative medicine scholars. The specific path I take will be to work through historical, linguistic, and philosophic dimensions of mindfulness and mysticism as relevant to illness, suffering, death, and dying. I close with two case examples in which mindfulness is used as an intentionally spiritual practice for health concerns.


Mindfulness Mysticism Narrative medicine Medical humanities Religion Spirituality Religious studies Death and dying Suffering 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Gallatin School of Individualized StudyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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