Antecedents of mystical experience and dread in intensive meditation.

Despite the well-publicized benefits of meditation on a range of factors related to well-being and psychological health, the nature of participants’ experiences during meditation is rarely mentioned as a mediator of these positive outcomes. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that mystical experiences (MEs) are linked to positive outcomes (e.g., Griffiths, Richards, McCann, & Jesse, 2006) and that meditation alone can facilitate MEs (e.g., Reavley & Pallant, 2009). Despite the relations among meditation, MEs, and positive outcomes, some individuals have MEs during meditation and others do not. This study utilized retrospective crowdsourced data based on a sample of 110 individuals who had participated in an intensive meditation experience of 3+ days in a retreat setting to understand factors that predict the occurrence of ME during at least 1 sit. The resulting statistical model predicted 50.3% of the variance in ME during meditation, and 25% of adverse experiences during meditation. The key predictor of ME was a state of surrender at the start of the experience, and the explanatory power of the model was enhanced by high values in the trait of absorption and low mental barriers. Conversely, preoccupation, distress, and high mental barriers predicted an experience of dread. Further, ME muted the impact of other predictors in producing positive emotional outcomes. Limitations and future research directions are also discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2017 APA, all rights reserved)