Experiments and experiences: lessons from collaborative research on contemplative practice

A session at Mind and Life Europe Symposium for Contemplative Studies

  • Lone Overby Fjorback
  • Claire Petitmengin
  • Andreas Roepstorff
  • Martijn van Beek

Sunday 13th October, 2013

9:00am to 9:45am (CET)

The emergent field of contemplative studies and science is by definition multidisciplinary. Collaborations have developed inside and outside of the academy – between the humanities, cognitive and behavioral sciences, between scholars and contemplatives, and between national and international partners – that cut across institutional and disciplinary boundaries in multiple ways. Drawing on experiences with applied and basic research projects, we discuss institutional, methodological and cultural challenges in the study of contemplative practice. Working closely with practitioners – and as practitioners and scholars, as is the case for some of us – has presented us with greater appreciation for the considerable work that remains to be done if the promise of, e.g., Francisco Varela’s vision for a contemplative science of consciousness is to be realized. Important elements in this are: a creative rethinking of the meaning, scope and methods of experimental research; a critical-constructive dialogue with practitioners aimed at developing a common understanding and conceptual framework; a broader, anthropological perspective on contemplative practice as situated practice; and careful, reflexive explorations of practical strategies and methods for (neuro-)phenomenology of contemplative practice and experience. If contemplative studies is to realize its potential more fully and contribute to a transition from the knowledge to the wisdom society, so to speak, we must also to work outside the lab, understand contemplative training as an individually differentiated, social process, embedded in co-constructed worlds of meaning.

About the speakers

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Lone Overby Fjorback

MD, PhD, leading clinical consultant at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus University Hospital

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Claire Petitmengin

Professor at the Institut Mines-Télécom, associate researcher at the Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris

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Andreas Roepstorff

Professor Cognition, Communication and Culture at the Department of Culture and Society & Department of Clinical Medicine, Aarhus University

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Martijn van Beek

Ph.D., Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Institute of Culture and Society at Aarhus University

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Time 9:00am9:45am CET

Date Sun 13th October 2013

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