Meditation practices are a popular approach to wellness, mental health, and stress management. These practices are 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 – the most comprehensive study on Buddhist meditators’ meditation-related challenges 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.
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 there 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.
- The study will take 2-3 hours to complete.
- See study instructions page for detailed information on the contents of the survey
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 and write in English.
Will I receive compensation?
Unfortunately, participation is voluntary and no compensation will be received. At the end of the study, you will receive instructions about how to anonymously request that your research participation is translated into support for meditators-in-distress.