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Journal Club #14 - W. Rietdijk (PhD): "A Microphenomenological Study of Mindfulness Meditation"

20/2/20, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam


1 min

Our 14th Journal Club installment will be hosted by Willeke Rietdijk (PhD). The title is “A micro-phenomenological study of processes and mechanisms of mindfulness meditation”. See below for more details

Where: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Medical Faculty (MF) Building, Room A307
When: Thursday, February 20th, 5:30 pm (presentation will start ~5.45pm).
RSVP: Facebook event

Entrance is free for registered APRA members who have paid the current year membership fee. 

Mindfulness is becoming widely applied within health care and educational settings, with positive effects shown on wellbeing and attainment. Mindfulness research however tends to focus on the clinical effects or neurological correlates of mindfulness, with experiential aspects of mindfulness practice overlooked. Via this research I explored how mindfulness unfolds phenomenologically at a micro-level, by interviewing adult insight meditators several times in depth about their just practiced meditations, using the micro-phenomenology method. This method was developed to acquire detailed and fine-grained pre-reflective information about any experience or cognitive operation and has over the past few years increasingly been applied in the field of contemplative science. I identified common patterns within and across participants in how the analysed meditations unfolded; a main identified shift seemingly providing a rich phenomenological equivalent of neuroscientists’ and some stress experts’ suggestion that mindfulness interrupts unhelpful cognitive schemata related to conditioned responses to fearful emotions. This mechanism in my view is of joint spiritual and psychotherapeutic significance, fields which are sometimes perceived to have fundamentally conflicting purposes. It also has relevance for learning processes and education, and has ethical importance. In my presentation I will outline the micro-phenomenology method, summarise my findings and discuss the implications of these.

About the speaker:
Willeke Rietdijk is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Educational Sciences, Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Willeke originally qualified as a clinical psychologist, with a minor in clinical psychology of religion, at the Radboud University Nijmegen. After subsequently working in holistic education in England, she became an educational researcher at the University of Southampton, conducting qualitative and quantitative research for ten years, during which time she also completed a PhD on the micro-phenomenology of processes and mechanisms of mindfulness meditation. She has since received funding from the Mind and Life Institute to further explore the key meditative processes she identified in this research. In 2019 she moved back to the Netherlands to work as post-doctoral researcher at the Wonderful Education Project at the VU. She is responsible for the qualitative part of this project, micro-phenomenologically exploring children’s experiences of wonder, and interviewing teachers about the extent to which, how and why they stimulate wonder in their pupils.

Location: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam MF-MA307
Address: De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam
Datum: February 20, 2020
Time: 17:30 - 19:30