Toward a unifying taxonomy and definition for meditation.
Document Type Article
This article has been peer reviewed. It was published in: Frontiers in Psychology
2013, 4, 806.
One of the well-documented concerns confronting scholarly discourse about meditation is the plethora of semantic constructs and the lack of a unified definition and taxonomy. In recent years there have been several notable attempts to formulate new lexicons in order to define and categorize meditation methods. While these constructs have been useful and have encountered varying degrees of acceptance, they have also been subject to misinterpretation and debate, leaving the field devoid of a consensual paradigm. This paper attempts to influence this ongoing discussion by proposing two new models which hold the potential for enhanced scientific reliability and acceptance. Regarding the quest for a universally acceptable taxonomy, we suggest a paradigm shift away from the norm of fabricatIng new terminology from a first-person perspective. As an alternative, we propose a new taxonomic system based on the historically well-established and commonly accepted third-person paradigm of Affect and Cognition, borrowed, in part, from the psychological and cognitive sciences. With regard to the elusive definitional problem, we propose a model of meditation which clearly distinguishes "method" from "state" and is conceptualized as a dynamic process which is inclusive of six related but distinct stages. The overall goal is to provide researchers with a reliable nomenclature with which to categorize and classify diverse meditation methods, and a conceptual framework which can provide direction for their research and a theoretical basis for their findings.