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Serena Cyr, Psy.D., is a 2017 graduate of the PsyD Program in Clinical Psychology at Antioch University, Santa Barbara.

Dissertation Committee:

Betsy Bates Freed, PsyD, Committee Chair

Brett Kia-Keating, EdD, Committee Member

Cassandra Vieten, PhD, Committee Member

Document Type

Dissertation

Publication Date

9-2017

Abstract

Meditation is an ancient spiritual practice that has been demonstrated to be beneficial in reducing chronic pain, substance use, and eating disorders, as well as aiding in the treatment of sleep disorders, cancer, and psychological distress. In an effort to enhance the benefits, many contemporary meditation practices have been secularized, focusing on the cognitive, the psychological, and the emotional components, while de-emphasizing the spiritual aspects of meditation. However, spiritual meditation practices also demonstrate benefits, including stress reduction, improved emotional well being, increases in pain tolerance, reductions in mental health symptoms, and increased faith. However, little is known regarding the effects of different types of meditation on the reported achievement of a sense of "spiritual height." Further, it is unclear whether age, gender, or months of meditation practice might be related to achieving spiritual height. The present study was specifically designed to determine whether meditation results in achieving spiritual height, and whether the rates of reportedly achieving spiritual height "many times" or "almost always" might significantly differ by various meditation types, including Transcendental Meditation (TM), Relaxation Response (RR), Mindfulness Meditation (MM), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Christian Devotion Meditation (CDM) and "Other" types of meditation that do not fit into these categories by analyzing an international database of meditators. Survey data (N = 965) were tested using t-tests, chi square, and logistic regression statistics at the p < .05 threshold for statistical significance. Overall, 53% of the total sample reported achieving spiritual height "many times" or "almost always" during meditation, with 62% of MM practitioners reporting experiencing spiritual height "many times" or "almost always." Additionally, one third or more of secular meditation (MBSR and RR) practitioners reported achieving spiritual height "many times" or "almost always." Combined, these findings indicate that the clinical community needs to be aware that meditation is a viable strategy to achieve spiritual height in clients, even if the meditation is secular in nature, and that MM may provide the best odds of experiencing spiritual height during meditation. This Dissertation is available in Open Access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, http://aura.antioch.edu and OhioLink ETD Center, http://www.ohiolink.edu/etd.

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ORCID: 0000-0001-6967-3463

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