Mindfulness, Openness to Experience, and Transformational Learning

Charlotte P. Barner and Robert W. Barner

in The Oxford Handbook of Reciprocal Adult Development and Learning

Second edition

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199736300
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Mindfulness, Openness to Experience, and Transformational Learning

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  • Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology



This chapter explains how mindfulness provides an avenue for fostering transformational learning by increasing an individual’s awareness of, and openness to, experience. In doing so, this position calls into question long-held assumptions regarding the roles that disruptive events and critical reflection play as necessary requisites to transformational learning. The chapter discusses those mechanisms through which mindfulness helps individuals overcome constraints to openness to experience, such as staying engaged within challenging life experiences, reducing defensiveness to new information about the self, maintaining greater emotional regulation during stressful events, and disidentifying with negative thoughts and emotions. Finally, attention is given to how the extended use of mindful practice can lead to long-term changes in human functioning, such as encouraging productive coping patterns and fostering changes in brain functionality, that are associated with sustained attention and reduced reactivity to long-term stressors, and which have important implications for the process of adult development.

Keywords: transformational learning; transformative learning; openness; mindfulness; adult development; brain function

Article.  12056 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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