Embodied learning through mindfulness: Encouraging a holistic approach to adult learning
Adult education and learning is a field of study devoted to transformation, both for the individual and for society at large. The academic literature related to adult education and learning reveals the dominance of a cognitive, rational approach to how learning takes place in Western culture. A holistic approach to adult learning, which includes the body and emotions, is often marginalised despite there being growing support for inclusion of the latter. This article reports on a research study that examined learning during a mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programme for adults offered in Cape Town, South Africa. Semi-structured interviews were used to collect the data and they were analysed using transformative learning theory. It was found that mindfulness inspires embodied learning, which creates a new awareness of the body and emotions. The data showed that embodied learning often motivated new actions among adult learners, indicating transformation. The findings suggest that embodied learning through mindfulness should be included in adult learning settings to complement rational, cognitive knowledge. This article proposes that embodied learning should be more prominent in theory-building related to adult education and learning. This will promote a more holistic approach to adult education and learning.