Publication 6665

Petitmengin C., van Beek M., Bitbol M., Nissou J. M. & Roepstorff A. (2019) Studying the experience of meditation through micro-phenomenology. Current Opinion in Psychology 28: 54–59. Fulltext at
Numerous scientific studies are conducted on the neurophysiological effects of meditation practices and on the neural correlates of meditative states. However, very few studies have been conducted on the experience associated with contemplative practice: what it is like to meditate – from moment to moment, at different stages of different forms of practice – remains almost invisible in contemporary contemplative science. Recently, ‘micro-phenomenological’ interview methods have been developed to help us become aware of lived experience and describe it with rigor and precision. This article presents the results of a pilot project aiming at applying these methods to the description of meditative experience, and highlights the interest of such descriptions for understanding, practicing and teaching meditation. Highlights: (a) What it is like to meditate remains almost invisible in contemporary contemplative science. (b) Micro-phenomenological interview methods help meditators become aware of the micro-dynamics of their practice and describe it. (c) These fine-grained description help meditators to refine, deepen and stabilize their practice. (d) The therapeutic effect of meditation could be explained by the process of regaining contact with experience, regardless of its content.

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