The Inner Life of An Experienced Meditator: From Shopping Lists to Awakening

Author/s: Peter M. Forster


Year: 2021 Vol: 6 Number: 1


This article addresses the little-studied area of the subjective experience of meditation through the analysis of the daily meditation diary of an experienced meditator over 2 months during the covid-19 lockdown in England in early 2020. The participant, who began meditating over 40 years ago, practised an open monitoring style of meditation for 90 minutes every day followed by 30-minutes of reflecting and writing notes on the experience. The meditation time included 60 minutes of ambient sounds and 30 minutes of binaural audio. The main and overarching themes in these diaries were identified by thematic analysis. Overarching themes were ‘What is meditation’ and ‘Something feels different! Changes in sensations or feelings while meditating’. One stand-alone theme was identified, ‘Unusual or altered states of consciousness’. The Buddhist concept of jhanas may provide a framework for understanding such experiences. These themes were discussed for the insights they provide into the meditation process.

Meditation, Meditation diary, Subjective experience, Phenomenology, Unusual or altered states of consciousness, Ethnography

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