Cognitive Phenomenology in the Study of Tibetan Meditation: Phenomenological Descriptions Versus Meditation Styles

  • Olga Louchakova-SchwartzEmail author


This chapter discusses the inclusion of phenomenological analysis in the cognitive psychological research of meditation. Different meditation styles involve the specific changes of the mind, such as a long-lasting, vivid, and stable mental imagery in some types of Tibetan meditation. Comparative phenomenological analysis of the Deity Yoga, mandala, Vipashyana, and Rig-pa types of Tibetan meditation was included in designing a cognitive experiment. Results indicate the increase of visual working memory due to the practice of Deity Yoga, suggesting access to the heightened visual processing resources (Kozhevnikov, Louchakova, Josipovic, & Motes. Psychological Science 20(5):645–653, 2009). The phenomenological part of the design, reported here for the first time, included a new methodology termed phenomenological-cognitive mapping (PCM). PCM linked the comparative phenomenological analysis of meditation to the psychological parameters of cognitive testing. PCM proved to be crucial in designing a successful experiment that led to novel findings. In the absence of PCM, isolating the meditation style that causes the optimization of visual-spatial processing and finding at what stage of meditation this happens would not be possible. This chapter argues in favor of including a detailed phenomenological analysis of experience in the cognitive research of meditation, as opposed to using only general classifications such as meditation styles.


phenomenology visual cognition consciousness Tibetan meditation meditation styles non-dual consciousness open awareness non-conceptual state 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sofia University (Formerly Institute of Transpersonal Psychology)Palo AltoUSA

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