Mapping contemplative experiences across and within meditation traditions

For millennia, people of all faiths and backgrounds have sought contemplative wisdom and practices to help them understand themselves, the world, and the cosmos, with the goal of reducing suffering and promoting human flourishing. Each contemplative tradition describes its own processes for exploration and personal growth, but it is unclear when these processes really differ between traditions, and when traditions may just use different ways of describing the same processes.

To help us better understand the landscape, we plan to work closely with practitioners and teachers of different established practice traditions. We will attempt to understand their exploration and personal growth processes, and translate this into contemporary language to help guide practitioners.

We can then observe how people practise over a prolonged period, and by gathering and comparing accounts of how practitioners and teachers navigate their experience of contemplative practice, we will be able to understand better how to help practitioners prepare for, and successfully navigate, these experiences as they arise.

This critical work will provide fundamental information for practitioners of contemplative practices regarding what to expect (positive, negative, and neutral experiences) and how practices are similar and different, and ultimately to help them choose the practice that suits their goals, as well as how to most effectively pursue that practice.

University of Melbourne contributors:

  • Dr Julieta Galante, Deputy Director, Contemplative Studies Centre
  • Associate Professor Nicholas Van Dam, Director, Contemplative Studies Centre
  • Associate Professor Ana Dragojlovic, Insight Fellow, Contemplative Studies Centre
  • Dr Cullan Joyce, Insight Fellow, Contemplative Studies Centre