A pilot study is underway at CCR North America, in Crestone, Colorado, USA. Details of the study are below. For additional information, please contact the Principal Investigator, Dr. Anita Milicevic.


A Pilot Study on the Phenomenology of Shamatha and
Vipashyana Training for Full-time Contemplatives — a Mixed-method Study


The purpose of this study is to gain a detailed phenomenological and electrophysiological understanding of the individual experiences of full-time contemplatives engaged in long-term meditation retreats. The aims of this work include the following:

  • to explore the quality of subjective experiences in a long-term retreat;
  • to examine whether attentional imbalances — ranging from excitation to dullness — can be overcome;
  • to examine whether there are coherent markers that identify different stages of attentional and emotional development experienced by individuals undertaking this contemplative training; and
  • to observe any changes in the spectral amplitudes and microstates of EEG recordings.


The study will last approximately 45 months; about 20 people, aged 25–85, are expected to participate.

Both quantitative and qualitative data will be collected:

  • Full-time contemplatives, as well as control participants who meditate but are not in full-time retreat, will complete weekly reflective journal writing regarding their meditation practice. The journals will be analyzed using a method known as interpretive phenomenological analysis (IPA). At the beginning of the study, and then in three-month intervals for approximately one year, the full-time contemplatives and control participants will also complete multiple psychological questionnaires that address attentional and emotional states. Across the three years of the study, the full-time contemplatives will participate in recurring EEG recordings, during which they’ll perform multiple meditation techniques.
  • The CCR’s meditation teachers will participate in recorded interviews with the Principal Investigator to provide independent, expert evaluations of the contemplatives’ subjective experiences, attentional abilities, and introspective insights.


Principal Investigator

Anita Milicevic, Ph.D.
Research and Education Director
Center for Contemplative Research
Crestone, Colorado, USA


Anatol Bragin, Ph.D., D.Sci.
Adj. Professor & Prof. Researcher
Department of Neurology
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Los Angeles, California, USA

Ross Dunseath, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Research
Division of Perceptual Studies
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, Virginia, USA

Robin Gayle, Ph.D., M.Div., M.F.T.
Professor of Psychology and Chair
Department of Counseling Psychology
Dominican University of California
San Rafael, California, USA

Elisa H. Kozasa, Ph.D.
Instituto do Cérebro
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein
São Paulo, Brazil

Mauricio Watanabe Ribeiro, Ph.D.
Post-doctoral Researcher
Instituto do Cérebro
Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein
São Paulo, Brazil

Nicholas J. Matiasz, Ph.D.
Scientific Program Director
Center for Contemplative Research
Crestone, Colorado, USA

Institutional Review Board

This study’s procedures have been approved by an independent institutional review board: Advarra IRB of Columbia, Maryland.