Saybrook instructor Dr. Lynne Shaner publishes article on meditation in Journal of Humanistic Psychology

Dr. Lynne Shaner

Dr. Lynne Shaner

When she began to think about what to research for her dissertation, Lynne Shaner, PhD, wanted to study human transformation.  According to her dissertation chair the topic was too big and too vague. Still, it was a starting point. As she continued to think about what she felt mattered most to her, in terms of integrative practices and human transformation, she kept coming back to the topic of meditation. “It is such a foundational technique, and it is so transformative. I am a long-term meditator myself, so I know this personally. I also figured that not only was the topic important, but that there would be a lot of research that I could sift through and build upon,” said Dr. Shaner recently, as she discussed the recent publication of ”Calm Abiding: the Lived Experience of the Practice of Long-Term Meditation.”  It was published online in July by the Journal of Humanistic Psychology..

She remarked, “I used my dissertation as the basis for the article, so the article is a distillation of that work.”  “One aspect of the whole project that surprised me was the fact that while there were thousands of peer-reviewed articles in the literature regarding meditation, very little of it was qualitative work—most was quantitative.” And very little research specifically explored long-term meditation, which was Dr. Shaner’s primary interest.

As noted in the abstract from the article:

“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”  (Shaner, 2015, p. 1).

“It is very exciting to see this article in its final, published form. I feel humbled and exhilarated to see my name, and the names of my committee members, on the first page,” said Dr. Shaner. She wrote up the article at the suggestion of her committee, and included them on the paper to acknowledge their support and help throughout her dissertation journey. She then had the article professionally edited and formatted according to the requirements of the journal. “It was worth every penny,” said Dr. Shaner.  She further commented, “I had come this far, and although in my former life I was a professional editor and writer, I wanted to make sure this manuscript was very clean. And I encourage everyone to shape their theses, projects, or dissertations into manuscript form and send them out there—people want to know about the work we are doing here at Saybrook!”