American Zen Hospital Chaplaincy: The Practice of Mindful Spiritual Care

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Nilon, Michael, Religious Studies - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Ochs, Vanessa, Religious Studies, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines the origins of American Zen hospital chaplaincy in the US through an ethnographic study of Upaya Institute and Zen Center (UZC). I explore how the founder of UZC, Joan Halifax, ecologizes, medicalizes, and neurobiologizes mindfulness in American Zen spiritual care via a close engagement with her writings. I connect Halifax's teachings with the work of her students in incorporating mindfulness into spiritual caregiving as a moral practice in clinical settings. I pay especially close attention to how the cultivation of empathy and compassion through spiritual practices creates a richly textured mode of embodiment in spiritual caregiving that clinical chaplains trained in mindfulness at UZC translate into biomedical institutions.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
American Zen, hospital chaplaincy, ethics of responsibility, medicalization, mindfulness, neurobiology
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