Study Description


Meditation practices are a popular approach to wellness, mental health and stress management, and used in schools, prisons, hospitals, and corporate settings. Research and media coverage has focused almost exclusively on the benefits of mediation practices. Comparatively little attention has been given to identifying negative effects, or finding the best way to support meditators who have them.

In 2017, our research team published the first paper of the Varieties of Contemplative Experience (VCE) Study, which is the most comprehensive study on meditation-related challenges in Buddhist meditators to date. With over 3000 pages of interviews from both meditators and teachers, we created a taxonomy of meditation-related challenges, and documented the long-term impacts they can have on meditators’ lives. In addition to many papers on different types of meditation-related challenges, we and others have also replicated the VCE taxonomy in mindfulness-based programs, and in an epidemiological sample.

Current study

The current study takes what we have learned in the VCE study and expands it to include any type of meditation. The study hopes to answer the following questions: What kinds of lasting challenges and adverse effects can result from meditation practice in a general, unrestricted sample?  Are their specific practices, programs or products that tend to cause more problems than others? What predicts whether a challenging meditation experience is therapeutic or destabilizing? If someone experiences challenging experiences from meditating, what should they do? What types of support, remedies or therapies are most or least helpful?

What does study participation involve?

Study participation involves completing an online survey about your meditation-related difficulties, how you and others responded to them, and other factors that may have played a role.  You can also submit a written narrative of your experience, if you choose.

Who is eligible?

Anyone who has had a meditation-related experience that:

  • Was difficult or distressing and persisted beyond the meditation practice into daily life or
  • Negatively impacted your life or daily functioning or
  • Required additional professional support or treatment

You must be at least 18 years old, and be able to read written and write in English.


Will I receive compensation?

No, participation is volunteer and uncompensated. You will be given instructions about how to anonymously request that your research participation translated into support for meditators-in-distress

How do I particpate?

Follow the steps below


  • Take the screener to see if you qualify
  • If yes, prcoceed to consent form


  • Read instructions
  • Decide if you want to use your real email or  anonymous email forwarding


  • If you have more questions,
  • Read FAQ
  • email us