Challenges and benefits of a long-term meditation practice

Shaner, L., Kelly, L., Rockwell, D., & Curtis, D. (2015). Calm Abiding The Lived Experience of the Practice of Long-Term Meditation. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 0022167815594556.

Abstract. Various aspects of meditation have been studied for more than 50 years, but little research has explored the lived experience of meditation in long-term meditators and examined what meaning this practice holds for the meditators. This interpretative phenomenological study examined the lived experience of the practice of meditation in the lives of six women who have practiced meditation daily for more than 10 years.

This study addressed the questions of how the long-term practice of meditation is experienced and adhered to, how long-term meditators are motivated, what benefits practitioners receive, and what meaning they attribute to their practice. Data were gathered using telephone interviews and analyzed using the interpretative phenomenological process.

Eight superordinate themes arose including (a) consistent and mindful adherence to ritual and technique; (b) role of a teacher/mentor; (c) cultivation of self-awareness; (d) increased equanimity, compassion, and acceptance of self and others; (e) transcendent, peak experiences; (f) cultivation and deepening of personal spirituality; (g) life purpose and meaning; and (h) challenges and barriers to meditation.

This study provides descriptions of the challenges and benefits of maintaining a long-term meditation practice. It points toward the potential of regular, long-term meditation to serve as a complementary healing modality.