The Next Wave of Meditation Research and Training

We believe that scientific research has only scratched the surface in exploring the potential of meditation. Most initial studies focused on using mindfulness for stress reduction and various clinical applications. The Meditation Research Program, led by Dr. Matthew D. Sacchet at Massachusetts General Hospital (Mass General) and Harvard Medical School, aims further the field by pioneering new research and training on advanced meditation.

Join us on this transformative journey into the evolving science and practice of advanced meditation.

Advanced Meditation: What Is It and Why It Matters

Advanced meditation is deeper engagement with meditative practices that with time and mastery, produce refined states of mind and awareness. These include bliss states, insights into the mind, altruistic/compassionate mindsets and ultimately, enduring transformation. Such transformation may result in profoundly altering one’s relations to psychological suffering, desire and motivations and sense of self.

Advanced meditation enables fundamental potential for human flourishing. It promises to contribute to innovation and impact in many fields and domains including mental health, personal thriving and life meaning, wisdom development and consciousness exploration. Advanced meditation also impacts research in relation to psychedelics and more generally, altered states, artificial intelligence, sustained excellence and peak performance, among others.

The Opportunity and Our Solution

We currently have a nascent understanding of advanced meditation, with current meditation research focused on clinical applications of mindfulness. There has been limited scientific research on advanced meditation, it is still in the early stages of introduction to modern culture and life.

The Meditation Research Program’s vision is to lead with the best research and education on advanced meditation. This goal is achieved through our comprehensive multidisciplinary advanced meditation research and our development and implementation of advanced meditation training programs and resources.

SCIENCE

Multidisciplinary Advanced Meditation Research Driving Innovation from Theory to Practice

PRACTICE

The Development and Implementation of Advanced Meditation Education and Training

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Advanced meditation holds significant and untapped opportunities to diminish suffering and help people flourish. […] Our work in the new wave of advanced meditation research is not just about coping with the stress of modern living. It could improve our understanding of and approach to the mind, mental health and well-being, allowing each of us to lead a more fulfilled, compassionate and ‘enlightened’ life.”

Matthew D. Sacchet, Ph.D. in Scientific American, June 2024

Our Team, Mass General, and Harvard

Our team is comprised of individuals at different career stages from undergraduates to senior professors. We are supported by a pantheon of visionaries and leaders at Harvard Medical School, Mass General and beyond that are committed to our Program’s impact and success.

Mass General is the largest hospital-based research program in the world and the oldest and largest affiliate of Harvard Medical School.

Countless medical and first-time scientific breakthroughs have been realized here including the invention of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG), both technologies that are core tools in our neuroscience research.

“The Meditation Research Program at MGH is a visionary organization that has the potential of becoming the premier research and education center in the world for the study of advanced meditation practice.”

Richard J. Davidson, Ph.D.
World renowned leader in meditation research and education
Director of the Center for Healthy Minds, William James Professor, University of Wisconsin Madison

Select Publications

Sparby T, Sacchet MD Toward a unified account of advanced concentrative absorption meditation: A systematic definition and classification of jhāna 2024 Mindfulness 15:1375–1394
Yang WFZ, Sparby T, Wright M, Kim E, Sacchet MD Volitional mental absorption in meditation: Toward a scientific understanding of advanced concentrative absorption meditation and the case of jhana 2024 Heliyon 10(10):e31223
Wright MJ, Galante J, Corneille JS, Grabovac A, Ingram DM, Sacchet MD Altered states of consciousness are prevalent and insufficiently supported clinically: A population survey 2024 Mindfulness 15:1162–1175
Ganesan S, Yang WFZ, Chowdhury A, Zalesky A, Sacchet MD Within-subject reliability of brain networks during advanced meditation: An intensively sampled 7 Tesla MRI case-study 2024 Human Brain Mapping 45(7):e26666
Sacchet MD, Fava M, Garland EL Modulating self-referential processing through meditation and psychedelics: Is scientific investigation of self-transcendence clinically relevant? 2024 World Psychiatry 23(2):298-299
Van Lutterveld R, Chowdhury A, Ingram DM, Sacchet MD Neurophenomenological investigation of mindfulness meditation ‘cessation’ experiences using EEG network analysis in an intensively sampled adept meditator 2024 Brain Topography doi.org/10.1007/s10548-024-01052-4
Yang WFZ, Chowdhury A, Bianciardi M, Van Lutterveld R, Sparby T, Sacchet MD Intensive whole-brain 7T MRI case study of volitional control of brain activity in deep absorptive meditation states 2024 Cerebral Cortex 34(1):bhad408
Chowdhury A, Van Lutterveld R, Laukkonen RE, Slagter HA, Ingram DM, Sacchet MD Investigation of advanced mindfulness meditation “cessation” experiences using EEG spectral analysis in an intensively sampled case study 2023 Neuropsychologia 190:108694
Wright MJ, Sanguinetti JL, Young S, Sacchet MD Uniting contemplative theory and scientific investigation: Toward a generative and comprehensive model of the mind 2023 Mindfulness 14:1088-1101
Galante J, Grabovac A, Wright M, Ingram DM, Van Dam NT, Sanguinetti JL, Sparby T, van Lutterveld R, Sacchet MD Proposing a framework for empirical investigation into mindfulness meditative development 2023 Mindfulness 14:1054–1067
Sezer I, Pizzagalli DA, Sacchet MD Resting-state fMRI functional connectivity and mindfulness in clinical and non-clinical contexts: A review and synthesis 2022 Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews 135:104583
Sparby T, Sacchet MD Defining meditation: Foundations for an activity-based phenomenological classification system 2022 Frontiers in Psychology 12:795077
Sparby & Sacchet 2024 Mindfulness
Ganesan et al 2024 Human Brain Mapping
Yang et al 2024 Cerebral Cortex
Chowdhury et al 2023 Neuropsychologia
Sezer et al 2022 Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews