Mind & Life
Willoughby Britton - When Meditation Causes Harm

Willoughby Britton - When Meditation Causes Harm

October 22, 2021

Willoughby_Britton_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with clinical psychologist and meditation researcher, Willoughby Britton. Willoughby is a pioneer in contemplative research and one of the only people dedicated to understanding the possible negative outcomes from meditation (so called meditation-related adverse experiences). This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • how she came to study the negative side of meditation;
  • support and resources for those struggling with meditation-related difficulties (Cheetah House);
  • scientific research on meditation-related adverse experiences;
  • changes in perception and anxiety that can happen with meditation;
  • how the same experience can be positive or negative depending on context;
  • how the causes of adverse effects may be the same as for the benefits;
  • the science of measuring harms in meditation research;
  • what we know (and don't know) about these effects—who's at risk, how frequent they are, and how they show up for people;
  • whether or not these difficulties are "part of the path" of transformation;
  • grounding care in compassion;
  • and aligning practices with the outcomes you want.

Full resources and show notes

Nicholas Van Dam - Nuancing the Narrative

Nicholas Van Dam - Nuancing the Narrative

October 8, 2021

NVD_sq.jpgIn this episode, Wendy speaks with meditation researcher and clinical psychologist, Nicholas Van Dam. Nicholas is the Director of the Contemplative Studies Centre at the University of Melbourne—the first such center in Australia. His work explores how meditation and mindfulness can support well-being, and help with conditions like anxiety and depression. This conversation covers many topics, including:

  • how an existential crisis led him to meditation practice;
  • bringing loving critique to contemplative science;
  • the complicated realities of mindfulness, how we measure it, and its impact on the brain;
  • looking at effects beyond just the individual who is meditating;
  • insights from a year of daily practice;
  • balancing personal interest vs. research objectivity;
  • the freedom that comes from letting go;
  • how skills learned on the cushion transfer to daily life;
  • deconstructing the self;
  • mindfulness and meditation for anxiety and depression;
  • getting out of your head and into your body;
  • connecting with Indigenous and other non-Buddhist contemplative traditions;
  • and advancing evidence-based research on meditation.

Full show notes and resources

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