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30-01-2023 | ORIGINAL PAPER

The Occurrence of Psychologically Profound, Meaningful, and Mystical Experiences During a Month-Long Meditation Retreat

Auteurs: Anthony P. Zanesco, Brandon G. King, Quinn A. Conklin, Clifford D. Saron

Gepubliceerd in: Mindfulness | Uitgave 3/2023

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Abstract

Objectives

Contemplative practice can occasion powerful psychological experiences. Yet few empirical studies have investigated whether their occurrence is associated with intensive meditation-based interventions. Here, we assess the prevalence of profound, meaningful, and mystical experiences in experienced meditators during a month-long insight meditation retreat compared to a control group of similarly experienced meditators.

Method

Participants completed the 100-item States of Consciousness Questionnaire (SOCQ) and the Mysticism Scale before and after a 3-week period of intensive retreat or daily life. Multivariate distance matrix regression was used to compare multivariate profiles of responses on the SOCQ and to describe which items contributed most to differences between groups at the end of retreat. Changes in self-reported mystical dimensions of experience were also directly compared between retreat and control participants.

Results

The retreat and control groups differed over the training period in their multivariate profile of individual experiences. Retreat group participants reported a greater extent of profound insights, powerful emotional experiences, and non-ordinary sensory or perceptual events compared to experienced meditators not on retreat. Retreatants also reported greater levels of specific dimensions of mystical experience, including internal unity, transcendence, sacredness, noetic quality, and deeply felt positive affect, relative to control participants.

Conclusions

These findings support the idea that intensive periods of meditation training are associated with a range of profound and mystical-type experiences. Increased access to these experiences may be one path by which immersive periods of contemplative training contribute to psychological or spiritual development, though the long-term consequences of such experiences remain to be fully understood.

Preregistration

This study is part of a larger investigation that was registered on clinicaltrials.gov (#NCT03056105).
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Metagegevens
Titel
The Occurrence of Psychologically Profound, Meaningful, and Mystical Experiences During a Month-Long Meditation Retreat
Auteurs
Anthony P. Zanesco
Brandon G. King
Quinn A. Conklin
Clifford D. Saron
Publicatiedatum
30-01-2023
Uitgeverij
Springer US
Gepubliceerd in
Mindfulness / Uitgave 3/2023
Print ISSN: 1868-8527
Elektronisch ISSN: 1868-8535
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-023-02076-w

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