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Journal Article

Experiencing meditation: Evidence for differential effects of three contemplative mental practices in micro-phenomenological interviews

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Przyrembel,  Marisa
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Singer,  Tania
Department Social Neuroscience, MPI for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Max Planck Society;

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Przyrembel, M., & Singer, T. (2018). Experiencing meditation: Evidence for differential effects of three contemplative mental practices in micro-phenomenological interviews. Consciousness and Cognition, 62, 82-101. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2018.04.004.


Abstract
Despite increasing interest in effects of meditation, systematic in-depth research on how it qualitatively feels to engage in different kinds of contemplative practices is still missing. To fill this gap, we explore the validity of Micro-phenomenological Interviews (MpI) to assess experiences during breathing meditation (BM), observing-thought meditation (OTM), and loving-kindness meditation (LKM). We performed psycholinguistic analyses, quantitative ratings and qualitative explorations of 104 MpI (N = 57). All results reveal differential affective, bodily and sensorial fingerprints: BM-transcripts contain the most body-related vocabulary, specifically sensations in nose and abdomen. OTM-transcripts contain the most cognition-related vocabulary. OTM is experienced in head and face. LKM-transcripts contain the most vocabulary related to socio-affective processes. LKM is associated to love, sensations around the heart, and warmth. The LKM-outcomes were replicated with another independent set of MpI. These findings verify the merit of MpI as a scientific tool to gain reliable first-person data beyond questionnaires or rating scales.