Spiritual Phenomena as Public Goods: Exploring Meditation Beyond the Standard Model

  • Torkel FalkenbergEmail author
Part of the Studies in Neuroscience, Consciousness and Spirituality book series (SNCS, volume 2)


There are many academic and philosophical entry points available to us in describing the enigmatic effects of meditation. The standard model of enquiry logically starts with a neurobiological explanatory mode, describing anatomical and physiological correlates to meditation. For example, meditation practice can be correlated positively with cortical thickness in several brain regions. The standard model is based on cause and effect relationships, which are essentially linear and that any phenomena must be ultimately explained as physical manifestations rooted in matter. Such a viewpoint has been described as scientism, a philosophy that purports to define that the world ‘really is’ reducable to matter. Here knowledge derived from sociological, psychological, anthropological, hermeneutical, philosophical or theological perspectives is mainly irrelevant. However, increasingly a diversity of qualitative and quantitative research methods have been called for in building evidence-informed medicine, whereby the thinking underpinning scientism is being challenged to its very core. For meditation research beyond the standard model, standardised as well as explorative statistical procedures, including multivariate regression analyses and principal component analysis, may assist in analysing differences and exploring correlations between a multitude of different qualitative and quantitative meditation outcomes. Such outcomes may include effects regarding mortality and morbidity, telomerase activity, sense of coherence (SOC), and even address possible non-local phenomena such as synchronicity and spirituality. Results from integral meta-theoretical enquires may tell us if meditation practice link subjective markers of spirituality, synchronicity and SOC with objective markers of telomerase-mediated genetic integrity and morbidity and mortality. Such results together with health economy data may inform evidence-informed decision making and healthcare reform globally in relation to spiritual phenomena as public goods.


Meditation Practice French Revolution Mindfulness Base Stress Reduction Mindfulness Base Cognitive Therapy Theological Perspective 
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I am very grateful for the reviewing and editing of versions of the text by Bo Ahrenfelt, Katarina Falkenberg, David Finer, Walter Osika, Stefan Schmidt, Harald Walach and Arthur Zajonc.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.I C – The Integrative Care Science CenterJärnaSweden

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