Mindful learning

Ellen Langer

Ellen Langer identified three characteristics of mindful learning, shown in the Table below. The idea of mindfulness has been used for some years in what Varela et al call “a non-Buddhist and non-meditative sense” (1993:262, referring specifically to the work of Langer (1997)). While some, including Langer, have expressed caution about the relationship between these two discussions of mindfulness, a parallel can be drawn between the potential integration of Mindful Learning into Mindfulness Based Interventions and the integration of CBT into MBCT. So in MBLE we support the approach of Boyatzis and McKee (2005) who also bring together the approaches of Langer and Kabat-Zinn, seeing the cognitive openness advocated by the former, and the moment-to-moment awareness of the latter as both helping to relate mindfulness to leadership.


Creation of new categories

“When we make new categories in a mindful way, we pay attention to the situation and the context. Old categories break down and the individual is no longer trapped by stereotypes.” (75)

Openness to new information

“The receiving of new information is a basic function of living creatures. Mindfully engaged individuals will actively attend to changed signals.” (140)

Awareness of more than one perspective

“Once we become mindfully aware of views other than our own, we start to realize that there are as many different views as there are different observers. Such awareness is potentially liberating.” (79)

Langer: Mindfulness 1997