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Published Online:https://doi.org/10.1037/ipp0000077

Despite the current burgeoning interest of secular mindfulness in the West and the exponential proliferation of mindfulness research, researchers have only dimly acknowledged and investigated the social–cultural contexts that condition interpretation of mindfulness practices. This is due in part to the bias of researchers to primarily include participants from more individualistic and first-world countries, and the conduct of research favoring methodologies underlining logical positivism. This present study explores the experience of mindfulness among a sample of handicapped and at-risk native Vietnamese youth (n = 42, age range = 10–35 years old) and low-income adult cyclo drivers (n = 182, age range = 26–82 years old) through the lens of phenomenology. Analyses of participants’ written reflections revealed elements of communal ethos that undergirds Vietnam’s 20 centuries of traditions and practices in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and indigenous/folk spirituality that have shaped Vietnam’s collective identity, social engagement, and modes of being. The results are interpreted within a philosophical processual worldview consistent with Vietnamese culture and cosmology emphasizing relations and interdependence that is also consistent with the traditional roots of mindfulness practice. Contemplative strategies, such as mindfulness, as efforts to reduce suffering, promote awareness and social–emotional flourishing, are consistent with 2016–2030 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals toward ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages. This study revealed the importance of attending to culture to help understand participants’ experiences from a nonwestern and resource-poor context. Vietnamese youth, young adults, and cyclo drivers reported that mindfulness helped them to strengthen and harmonize relationships.

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