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Slowing down

 

Led by

Suneetha S.

Hanne Bess Boelsbjerg

Contact

Suneetha S. <r09035@astra.xlri.ac.in>

Funding

Self-funded

Status

Ongoing (August 2021–)

Summary

The project intends to explore: what is the meaning of slowing down in the field of academia? The assumption is if we as academics slow down, we might be able to experience things that affect us in an unknown way and then we do research differently. The process of slowing down touches upon the aesthetics of being, because we actually will be able to experience what we are involved in, and also our own reactions towards it. We suggest that slowing down would make us become much more knowledgeable and wiser. We would then act differently; we will gain another sense of the many layers of knowledge. We become appreciative of our work and find new ways of being engaged scholars/ involved researchers.

Self-boundary dissolution in meditation - a phenomenological investigation

 

Led by

Ohad Nave (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Mathis Trautwein (University of Freiburg)
Aviva Berkovich-Ohana (University of Haifa)

Contact

Ohad Nave <naveohad@gmail.com>

Status

Completed (2019–2021)

Summary

A fundamental aspect of the sense of self is its pre-reflective dimension specifying the self as a bounded and embodied knower and agent. Being a constant and tacit feature structuring consciousness, it eludes robust empirical exploration. Recently, deep meditative states involving global dissolution of the sense of self have been suggested as a promising path for advancing such an investigation. To that end, we conducted a comprehensive phenomenological inquiry into meditative self-boundary alteration. The induced states were systematically characterized by changes in six experiential features including the sense of location, agency, first-person perspective, attention, body sensations, and affective valence, as well as their interaction with meditative technique and overall degree of dissolution. Quantitative analyses of the relationships between these phenomenological categories highlighted a unitary dimension of boundary dissolution. Notably, passive meditative gestures of “letting go”, which reduce attentional engagement and sense of agency, emerged as driving the depth of dissolution. These findings are aligned with an enactive approach to the pre-reflective sense of self, linking its generation to sensorimotor activity and attention-demanding processes. Moreover, they set the stage for future phenomenologically informed analyses of neurophysiological data and highlight the utility of combining phenomenology and intense contemplative training for a scientific characterization of processes giving rise to the basic sense of being a bounded self.

Publication

Nave, O., Trautwein, F. M., Ataria, Y., Dor-Ziderman, Y., Schweitzer, Y., Fulder, S., & Berkovich-Ohana, A. (2021). Self-boundary dissolution in meditation: A phenomenological investigation. Brain sciences, 11(6), 819.

Micro-phenomenology of nature

Led by

Claire Petitmengin (Archives Husserl, ENS Paris)

Contact

Claire Petitmengin <cp@clairepetitmengin.fr>

Funding

/

Status

Ongoing (2020–)

Summary

This study explores the hypothesis that our way of life and the ecological disaster it is bringing about originates in our blindness to what is nevertheless closest to us: our own lived experience, and notably its “felt” dimension, where the separation that we usually think we perceive between “inner” and “outer” spaces becomes permeable and even vanishes.

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Publications

Petitmengin, C. (2021). Anchoring in lived experience as an act of resistance. Constructivist Foundations, 16(2), 172-181. https://constructivist.info/16/2/172

Photo by: Wynn Bullock

A micro-phenomenological exploration of processes and mechanisms of insight meditation

 

Led by

Willeke Rietdijk (VU University Amsterdam, Netherlands)

Contact

Willeke Rietdijk <w.rietdijk@vu.nl>

Funding

Vice Chancellor PhD Scholarship, University of Southampton, UK

Status

Completed (2012–2019)

Summary

As part of this PhD study, micro-phenomenological interviews were held with three intermediately experienced meditators in the insight meditation tradition, to study their lived experience of how their meditations unfolded moment-to-moment, as reported directly afterwards. Across the total of eleven interviews, common patterns were identified regarding this, such as a recurring shift from a conceptually based, controlling aspect of consciousness to a more embodied, holistic, and relaxed way of being, with less defined ego-boundaries yet a greater sense of authenticity. After this shift, feelings of stillness, spaciousness, connectedness, and emptiness of thought and feeling were present in the meditators. As is set out in the thesis, this shift from conceptual to embodied awareness corresponds, among others, with neuroscientists’ and stress experts’ claim that mindfulness, via access to present-moment experience, interrupts unhelpful cognitive schemata related to conditioned stress responses. The shift can also be considered of joint psychotherapeutic and spiritual significance, fields which are sometimes considered to have conflicting purposes. Additional findings were a possible role of mind-wandering in loosening ego-boundaries during meditation, and strong interoceptive sensibility in the interviewed meditators, accompanied by the use of an ‘interoceptive language’

Outputs

PhD thesis

ExCoNat

Investigating the Experience of Connection to Nature

 

Summary

How can our lived experience contribute to renewing our relationship with ourselves, with others and with the world in a more caring and respectful way? How does our bodily experience contribute to a form of knowledge that brings us closer to what is alive in us and around us?


Our project aims at exploring and documenting the experience of connection/disconnection with nature (trees, fields, wind, rain, stones, animals, ...) and other people, based on micro-phenomenological interviews. We will accompany people to describe their experience of one or more moments in which they felt that the degree of their connection with nature varied (increase or decrease).


ExCoNat aims at contributing to the fields of eco-psychology - understanding how people manage to regain contact with their own experience and how the experience of the unity of "human beings" and "nature" emerge – and educational sciences – broadening our conceptions of knowledge and knowing and understanding how contemplative pedagogies allow (or not) the relation between inter- being and our inner being. 

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Led by

Magali Ollagnier-Beldame (CNRS)

Véronique Servais (Université de Liège)

Pietro Varrasso (Conservatoire Royal de Liège)

Contact

Magali Ollagnier-Beldame <magali.ollagnier-
beldame@ens-lyon.fr>

Véronique Servais <v.servais@ulg.ac.be>

Funding

Pépinière interdisciplinaire « Laboratoire de
L’Education », UMS CNRS 3773

Status

Ongoing (2021–)

How does 'meditation' feel like?

An in-depth investigation of first-person experiences based on Micro-phenomenological Interviews in the context of a longitudinal mental training study, 'The ReSource Project'

Led by

Dr. Marisa Przyrembel & Prof. Tania Singer (Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences,
Department of Social Neuroscience, Leipzig, Germany)

Contact

Marisa Przyrembel <Marisa.Przyrembel@akkon-hochschule.de>

Funding

European Research Council (European Community’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7/2007-2013 European Research Council (ERC), Grant Agreement Number: 205557)

Max Planck Society (Germany)
Mind & Life Institute (USA)

Status

Completed (2014–2019)

Summary

In the context of The ReSource Project, a multimethod longitudinal meditation study (see Singer, T., Kok, B. E., Bornemann, B., Zurborg, S., Bolz, M., & Bochow, C. (2016). The ReSource Project: Background, design, samples, and measurements.), 107 one-hour Elicitation Interviews have been conducted on three types of contemplative mental exercises: breathing meditation (BM), observing-thought meditation (OTM), and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). For analyses of these comprehensive first-person data, we performed a) linguistic computer-based quantitative analyses, b) ratings of the quantified rich first-person data by four independent raters (Kappa=.85), followed by statistical tests, and c) semantic investigation of the specific experiences. All kinds of analyses reveal clear differential experiential fingerprints of the meditations. These findings marshal evidence for the merit of micro-phenomenological interviews as a valuable scientific tool, as  the in-depth experiential patterns would have been difficult to extract on the basis of conventional first-person measures, such as rating scales or questionnaires.

Publications

Przyrembel, M., Vrticka, P., Engert, V., & Singer, T. (2019). Loving-Kindness Meditation: A Queen of Hearts? A Physio-Phenomenological Investigation on the Variety of Experience.   Journal of Consciousness Studies, 26(7-8), 95-129.

Przyrembel, M. & Singer, T. (2018). Micro-experiencing Three Different Types of Meditation - Evidence for Differential Phenomenological Reports in Elicitation Interviews. Consciousness and Cognition, 62, 82-101.

Talks

University of Peradeniya, Talk: Introducing the Micro-phenomenological interview to Contemplative Science. Peradeniya, Sri Lanka (December 2017)

 

European Neurophenomenology, Contemplative Neuroscience, and Embodied Cognition Network (ENCECON), Talk (with A-L. Lumma & T. Singer): Lessons from the ReSource Study - Examples for Neurophenomenological Research using Different Levels of First-Person Accounts and Analyses. Château de la Bourlie, France (June 2016)

Start in the middle / Commencer au milieu

Led by

Pénélope Laurent-Noye (independent dancer & contemplative practitioner)

Contact

contact@lesfrontalieres.eu

Status

Ongoing (2022–)

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Summary

(EN) 'start in the middle' is one part of the process that I am currently developing under the title 'weaving a thousand minor gestures, improvisation in questions'. In this particular context, I start using the practice of micro-phenomenological interview to gather descriptions of the shared practice of what is named the "Small Dance", a practice developed by the dancer Steve Paxton since the late 1960's and now commonly used by improvisers among the contact-improvisation planet. The question I ask to this contemplative-somatic-relational (improvisational) practice, taking as a anchor what its creator says about it in the article 'The Politics of Mutuality' (2016/2018)*, is as follows: In the shared practice of the 'Small Dance', what is the middle of the relation made of ? Or put another way: Could dancers describe the ambiance that arises between them while standing upright and training in becoming aware of "the smallest units of sensation they could perceive" when they are moved by "reflexive movements" ? (quotes from the article mentioned)

(FR) 'commencer au milieu' est un pan du processus que je développe actuellement sous l'intitulé 'tisser mille gestes mineurs, l'improvisation en questions'. Dans ce contexte particulier, je commence à utiliser la pratique de l'entretien micro-phénoménologique pour recueillir des descriptions de la pratique partagée de ce que l'on appelle la "Small Dance", une pratique développée par le danseur Steve Paxton depuis la fin des années 1960 et maintenant couramment utilisée par les improvisatrices-improvisateurs de la planète du contact-improvisation. La question que je pose ici à cette pratique contemplative-somatique-relationnelle (improvisationnelle), en prenant comme point d'ancrage ce que son créateur en dit dans l'article 'The Politics of Mutuality' (2016/2018)* est la suivante : Dans la pratique partagée de la 'Petite Danse', de quoi est fait/se compose le milieu de la relation ? Ou dit autrement : Est-ce que les danseur.euse.s pourraient décrire l'ambiance qui se manifeste entre elleux lorsqu'ielles sont en train de tenir debout et de s'entraîner à devenir consciente des "plus petites unités de sensations qu'elles peuvent percevoir" pendant qu'elles sont mues par du / des "mouvement(s) réflexe(s)" ? (citations issues de l'article mentionné)
* https://contactquarterly.com/cq/vol-43-no-1

Outputs

Webpage

(The page will be updated throughout the process with elements of the work done with the dancers.)

PHENOTANK project

Microphenomenology and contemplative experience: Exploring the intra- and intersubjective dynamics of language and embodied experience

 

Led by

Andreas Roepstorff, Martijn van Beek (Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark)

Anne Klein (Dept of Religious Studies, Rice University, US)
Michel Bitbol, Claire Petitmengin (Archives Husserl, ENS Paris)

Contact

Martijn van Beek <mvanbeek@cas.au.dk>

Funding

Mind & Life Europe

Status

Completed (2017–2019)

Summary

The project consisted in bringing together scholars from the humanities and sciences with contemplative practitioners to explore and develop the use of micro-phenomenology in the study, practice and application of contemplative practice.

 

The first meeting of the group took place in Paris, from 23 to 24 January 2017. It intended to help develop a modest, empirically grounded, and explicitly intersubjective phenomenology to aid in the study of processes and states associated with learning and engaging in contemplative practice. Specifically, we explored the intra- and inter-personal dynamics of language and embodied experience.

The second project meeting took place in Bad Kohlgrub, Germany, from 21 to 24 October 2019. It was devoted to micro-phenomenological explorations of the relationships between language and contemplative practice.

The PHENOTANK project built on an earlier pilot project exploring the usefulness of micro-phenomenological interview techniques in the study of contemplative practices (the PHENOPILOT project - see below).

Outputs

Meeting report

PHENOPILOT project

Methods and issues for a micro-phenomenological description of meditative experience

 

Led by

Claire Petitmengin, Michel Bitbol (Archives Husserl, ENS Paris)
Martijn van Beek, Andreas Roepstorff (Interacting Minds Centre, Aarhus University, Denmark)
Jean-Michel Nissou (psychotherapist, France)

Contact

Claire Petitmengin <cp@clairepetitmengin.fr>

Funding

Mind & Life Europe

Status

Completed (2013–2017)

Summary

In our society where interest in Buddhist meditation is expanding enormously, numerous scientific studies are now conducted on the neurophysiological effects of meditation practice 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 instant to instant, at different stages of the practice – remains almost invisible in contemporary contemplative science. New concrete "micro-phenomenological" interview methods have recently been designed to help us become aware of our lived experience and describe it with rigor and precision. The objectives of this project were 1) to verify whether these methods actually enable us to collect accurate and reliable descriptions of different dimensions and stages of contemplative practice; 2) to evaluate the usefulness of such descriptions for the meditator, the meditation instructor, and the researcher.

Publications

Petitmengin C., Van Beek M, Bitbol M., Nissou J.M., Roepstorff A. (2017). What is it like to meditate? Methods and issues for a micro-phenomenological description of meditative experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies 24 (5-6), 170-198.

Petitmengin C., Van Beek M, Bitbol M., Nissou J-M., Roepstorff A. (2017). Que vit le méditant ? Méthodes et enjeux d'une description micro-phénoménologique de l'expérience méditative. Intellectica 2017/1, vol. 64. (link)

Petitmengin C., Van Beek M, Bitbol M., Nissou J-M., Roepstorff A. (2018). Studying the experience of meditation through micro-phenomenology. Current Opinions in Psychology.

Becoming Aware of the Micro-phenomenological Dynamics of Ecological Connectedness

Led by

Jennifer Obbard (University of Aberdeen, UK)

Contact

Jennifer Obbard <r02jo14@abdn.ac.uk>

Funding

Self-funded

Status

Completed

Summary

This empirical study focused on how meditative processes may impact the awareness of one’s environment and the relational dynamics that may be present yet outside of everyday awareness. The study also sought to understand how the natural environment may influence the microdynamics of the meditative processes, particularly the attentional processes. The inquiry compared experiences of expert contemplative practitioners, practicing both indoors and outdoors, with persons who have expertise in nature connection practices, and compared the findings with the known generic structures of experience to determine if there are structural or qualitative differences related to role of nature in shaping experience. Participants were invited to spend four days in a wilderness location and participate in a microphenomenological interview on the final day. The findings may provide new insights regarding situatedness and the choices regarding where contemplative practice and research takes place.