This article refers to a think tank that has been funded by the mind and life institute to develop a micro phenomenology interview technique for eliciting how people experience meditation or other forms of contemplative practice. This technique is specifically designed to pick up the intra and inter-personal dynamics of experience.



What is contemplative neuroscience and what is the mind and life institute

Contemplative sciences  is an emerging research field that has become increasingly prominent over the last 10 years.

The mind and life institute was setup in 1987 to support the development of this area of research it  has been a key source of funding for and dissemination of research that has explored the “neurological, physiological, epigenetic, behavioral, social and cognitive manifestations or consequences of a state of mind which is at the same time meditative/mindful and compassionate/calm and selfless/altruistic although bodily-aware. ” (

Mind & Life emerged in 1987 from a meeting of three visionaries: Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama — the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people and a global advocate for compassion; Adam Engle, a lawyer and entrepreneur; and Francisco Varela, a neuroscientist. While the trio understood that science had become the dominant framework for investigating the nature of reality — and the modern source for knowledge that could help improve the lives of humans and the planet — the three regarded this approach as incomplete. Whereas science relies on empiricism, technology, “objective” observation, and analysis, the Dalai Lama, Engle, and Varela were convinced that well-refined contemplative practices and introspective methods could, and should, be used as equal instruments of investigation — instruments that would not only make science itself more humane but also ensure its conclusions were far-reaching. The Mind & Life Institute was formed to bridge this divide and advance progress in human well-being.

Since the first Dialogue with the Dalai Lama, Mind & Life has held 29 others that bring together scientists and contemplatives on a wide range of critical subjects: addiction, ecology, ethics, attention, neuroplasticity, destructive emotions, altruism, economics, and more. Additionally, over the past 30 years, Mind & Life’s work has extended beyond the Dialogues. The Institute has become a direct funder of individual research via its grant and scholarship programs. It convenes an annual Summer Research Institute, as well as the field’s marquee biennial conference: the International Symposium for Contemplative Studies. In the process, Mind & Life has become more than just a leader in the field of contemplative science; it has become an incubator for discovery in all of the fields this new science touches. The Institute’s impact has been chronicled in numerous best-selling books, including Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begley; Destructive Emotions by Daniel Goleman; andThe Dalai Lama at MIT by Anne Harrington and Arthur Zajonc. Through the support of Mind & Life, researchers have produced dozens of pivotal studies and more than 200 journal articles, chapters, and books; participated in more than 300 public talks; obtained prestigious faculty appointments, fellowships, and directorships; and been awarded more than $62 million in follow-on funding.


More info about micro-phenomenology

This article describes what the roots of the micro-phenomenology method are and what its purpose is in more detail. –

This publication provides details about the method. I haven’t been able to access it though –

Neurophenomenology and the Micro-phenomenological Interview

A forthcoming publication may also provide more information about the interview method –

Petitmengin C., Van Beek M, Bitbol M., Nissou J.M., Roepstorff A.

What is it like to meditate? Methods and issues for a micro-phenomenological description of meditative experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies. (forthcoming)

Here is a full list of publications from the project –


Petitmengen looks to have done some interesting work in the cognitive sciences area –\


Looking through these resources introduced me to the Blackwell Companion to Consciousness –,%20Analysis%27%20and%20Resources%20(ver.2)/Blackwell/The%20Blackwell%20Companion%20to%20Consciousness.pdf



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