A Phenomenological Inquiry into the Therapeutic Use of Meditation as an Aid for Individuals Facing Substance Misuse
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In this Masters thesis for City University of Seattle, the author presents a phenomenological inquiry into the therapeutic effects of Buddhist meditation for individuals who have struggled with substance misuse. The introduction explains the relevance, purpose, and utility of the project, and the recent cross-fertilization between western and Buddhist psychologies. A literature review presents and explains some of the research on Buddhist psychology, the neuroscience of substance misuse and meditation, the application of mindfulness in therapeutic contexts, and the specific application of meditation with individuals who misuse substances. A phenomenological methodology is proposed as a means to define categories of experience and clarify the psychological processes of individuals who have made use of meditation in overcoming substance misuse. The results consist of some of the narratives of the co-researchers, and their “lived experiences” of changing their relationships to substances through meditation. Clusters of meaning, common experiences, and themes are explained to make the phenomenon clearer for the reader. The discussion chapter explains eight themes that arose from the co-researchers’ experiences, the implications of the study, further research questions that it generates, and reflections of the primary researcher.