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Article

Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation

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Department of Cognitive Sciences, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus, Jerusalem 9190501, Israel
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Edmond Safra Brain Research Center, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
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Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Freiburg, 79085 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
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Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health, 79098 Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany
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Psychology Department, Tel-Hai Academic College, Qiryat Shemona 1220800, Israel
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The Integrated Brain and Behavior Research Center (IBBRC), University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
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Department of Learning, Instruction and Teacher Education, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
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The Israel Insight Society (Tovana), Kibbutz Ein-Dor, R.D. Izrael 1933500, Israel
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Department of Counseling and Human Development, Faculty of Education, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Istvan Molnar-Szakacs and Lucina Q. Uddin
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(6), 819; https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060819
Received: 14 April 2021 / Revised: 15 June 2021 / Accepted: 18 June 2021 / Published: 21 June 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Brain Bases of Conscious Awareness and Self-Representation)
A fundamental aspect of the sense of self is its pre-reflective dimension specifying the self as a bounded and embodied knower and agent. Being a constant and tacit feature structuring consciousness, it eludes robust empirical exploration. Recently, deep meditative states involving global dissolution of the sense of self have been suggested as a promising path for advancing such an investigation. To that end, we conducted a comprehensive phenomenological inquiry into meditative self-boundary alteration. The induced states were systematically characterized by changes in six experiential features including the sense of location, agency, first-person perspective, attention, body sensations, and affective valence, as well as their interaction with meditative technique and overall degree of dissolution. Quantitative analyses of the relationships between these phenomenological categories highlighted a unitary dimension of boundary dissolution. Notably, passive meditative gestures of “letting go”, which reduce attentional engagement and sense of agency, emerged as driving the depth of dissolution. These findings are aligned with an enactive approach to the pre-reflective sense of self, linking its generation to sensorimotor activity and attention-demanding processes. Moreover, they set the stage for future phenomenologically informed analyses of neurophysiological data and highlight the utility of combining phenomenology and intense contemplative training for a scientific characterization of processes giving rise to the basic sense of being a bounded self. View Full-Text
Keywords: self boundaries; minimal self; self-dissolution; neurophenomenology; empirical phenomenology; meditation; self-transcendence self boundaries; minimal self; self-dissolution; neurophenomenology; empirical phenomenology; meditation; self-transcendence
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MDPI and ACS Style

Nave, O.; Trautwein, F.-M.; Ataria, Y.; Dor-Ziderman, Y.; Schweitzer, Y.; Fulder, S.; Berkovich-Ohana, A. Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060819

AMA Style

Nave O, Trautwein F-M, Ataria Y, Dor-Ziderman Y, Schweitzer Y, Fulder S, Berkovich-Ohana A. Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(6):819. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060819

Chicago/Turabian Style

Nave, Ohad, Fynn-Mathis Trautwein, Yochai Ataria, Yair Dor-Ziderman, Yoav Schweitzer, Stephen Fulder, and Aviva Berkovich-Ohana. 2021. "Self-Boundary Dissolution in Meditation: A Phenomenological Investigation" Brain Sciences 11, no. 6: 819. https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11060819

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