Enhancing well-being through the Existential Mindfulness Program for Teachers (EMPT): A mixed methods study among HK teachers

Sau Ting Ann LY

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions are effective in promoting well-being of clinical populations. However, limited research has been conducted to examine the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for teachers. Furthermore, existing mindfulness-based interventions have mostly focused on the practical element of mindfulness without giving proper attention to its rich existential context rooted in the Buddhist tradition. This study sought to address this gap by developing and evaluating an existential mindfulness program for teachers (EMPT). The EMPT consists of two components: (1) the practical component, which involves various kinds of guided mindfulness meditation; and (2) the existential component, which involves exploration of existential concerns at a personal level. The program was specifically designed to improve teachers’ mindfulness and well-being and reduce their ill-being. A mixed-methods research design was employed. For the quantitative part, the research questions focused on examining whether EMPT increased mindfulness and well-being and whether it reduced ill-being. For the qualitative part, the research questions focused on examining the participants’ subjective experiences of the EMPT program, as well as their suggestions to improve the program. The study comprised of two groups of participants. The first group were 15 students who were studying various programs at the university (U Group). The second group was composed of ten teachers recruited from a Kindergarten (KG Group). Questionnaires that measure mindfulness, well-being, and illbeing were administered one week prior to the implementation of the EMPT, and the same questionnaires were administered again one week after the intervention. Paired t-tests were used. For the qualitative part, focus group interviews were conducted at the final sessions of each group. With the U Group, quantitative findings showed that EMPT was effective in partially enhancing key dimensions of mindfulness and well-being and reducing ill-being. No significant effects were found with the KG Group. Qualitative results indicated that for the U Group participants, their exposure to the practical component of EMPT enabled them to have an increased awareness of the present moment, as well as increased capacity to refrain from over-identifying with negative mental states. They also reported gaining existential insights on how they relate to themselves, others, and to the transcendent. For the KG group, the participants perceived the EMPT as useful for relaxing and destressing. They also viewed the program as an important venue for emotional release and strengthening collegiality. Suggestions focused on highlighting the personal relevance of the program and tailoring it to the participants’ existential needs. Overall, the EMPT was more effective for the U Group than the KG Group due to the differences in how the two groups were recruited and how the participants viewed the program. This study has important theoretical and practical implications. In terms of theory, this study presents the first attempt to integrate existential concerns with typical mindfulness-based trainings for teachers. In terms of practice, this study provides a cost-effective and theoretically informed approach to improving Hong Kong teachers’ well-being and reducing their ill-being. Future research can focus on examining the mechanisms behind the intervention’s efficacy; improving and refining the program content and delivery; and following participants over a longer time period to test the program’s sustainability. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Education University of Hong Kong
  • YEUNG, Siu Sze 楊少詩, Supervisor
  • KING, Ronnel Bornasal, Supervisor
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Existential Mindfulness Program for Teachers
  • Existentialism
  • Mindfulness
  • Teacher well-being
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Education University of Hong Kong, 2021.


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