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Issues and Perspectives in Meditation Research: In Search for a Definition

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Issues and Perspectives in Meditation Research: In Search for a Definition

Bhuvanesh Awasthi. Front Psychol.

Abstract

Despite the growing interest in the neurobiological correlates of meditation, most research has omitted to take into account the underlying philosophical aspects of meditation and its wider implications. This, in turn, is reflected in issues surrounding definition, study design, and outcomes. Here, I highlight the often ignored but important aspect of definition in the existing scholarship on neuroscience and meditation practice. For a satisfactory account of a neuroscience of meditation, we must aim to retrieve an operational definition that is inclusive of a traditional ontological description as well as the modern neurocognitive account of the phenomena. Moving beyond examining the effects of meditation practice, to take a potential step forward in the direction to establish how meditation works, it becomes crucial to appraise the philosophical positions that underlie the phenomenology of meditation in the originating traditions. This endeavor may challenge our intuitions and concepts in either directions, but issues pertaining to definition, design, and validity of response measures are extremely important for the evolution of the field and will provide a much-needed context and framework for meditation based interventions.

Keywords: consciousness; contemplative practice; definition; meditation; neural correlates.

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