Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dynamics of Mindfulness Practice Groups, Sense of Community, Belonging, Social Capital, Sangha

     Folks who sit with a group, even for the very first time, notice the positive influence of the group on their sitting. A "sense of community" * or "community-belonging" is part of the explanation. Another, more subtle explanation may be the high level of "social capital" *** associated with belonging to a group committed to mining the depths of each member's being in order to uncover and share what is discovered with the greater community.
     "the odds of daily smoking were higher among female primary care givers of children who reported high levels of community-belonging in locations characterised by relatively low levels of social capital. Similarly, (another study) found that, in deprived areas, children of mothers who reported knowing many (vs few) of their neighbours had worse mental health outcomes, while in wealthier areas, children of mothers who reported knowing many (vs few) of their neighbours had better mental health outcomes. Thus, these findings suggest that the influence of community-belonging on health should depend on context."
       Hystad P, Carpiano RM. Sense of community-belonging and health-behaviour change in Canada. J Epidemiol Community Health 2012; 66(3): 277-83.

     * sense of community “a feeling that members have of belonging and being important to each other, and a shared faith that members’ needs will be met by the commitment to be together.” McMillan DW (1976) quoted in:
       Chipuer HM, Pretty GMH. A review of the Sense of Community Index: Current uses, factor structure, reliability, and further development. Journal of Community Psychology 1999; 27(6): 643-658.
     *** "In sociology, social capital is the expected collective or economic benefits derived from the preferential treatment and cooperation between individuals and groups. Although different social sciences emphasize different aspects of social capital, they tend to share the core idea "that social networks have value". Just as a screwdriver (physical capital) or a university education (cultural capital or human capital) can increase productivity (both individual and collective), so do social contacts affect the productivity of individuals and groups."

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