Nick Canby, PhD

Nick received his PhD in clinical psychology from Clark University in 2022 , and completed his clinical internship at the VA hospital in Tucson Arizona. Nick’s dissertation investigated changes in sense of self, specifically dissolution of self-world and self-other boundaries from multiple causes, including meditation, religious practice, psychedelics, trauma, and then assessed what factors predict life enhancing vs destabilizing trajectories. He was lead author on a study that found that social factors, specifically group cohesion and relationship with the teacher, were better predictors of therapeutic success than type or amount of meditation practice. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the Clinical and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory.

David Cooper, MA

David J. Cooper has worked on the Varieties of Contemplative Experience study since 2014 and has been involved with most aspects of the project, including leading practitioner and expert interviews, as well as developing and implementing the qualitative coding structure. He received an M.A. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he focused on Buddhist traditions. David is interested in narrative and social dimensions of religious experience, particularly those relating to the sense of self, the body and energy-like somatic experiences (ELSEs). His published work prior to joining the VCE study has focused on the social uses of humor in religious narratives and communities. He has a wide range of experience both practicing with and studying contemplative communities in Asia, North America, Europe and the Middle East. He was the lead author on the 2021 VCE paper “Like a Vibration Cascading through the Body”: Energy-Like Somatic Experiences Reported by Western Buddhist Meditators”.