Towards Empirically-Oriented Investigation of Non-Dual Awareness Yoshio Nakamura , Adam Hanley, Eric Garland (Anesthesiology, Pain Research Center and Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Interventi, Salt Lake City, UT ) P1
Non-dual awareness (NDA) has been identified as an important aspect of spiritual awakenings, from contemplative trainings practiced in both contemplative wisdom traditions and in emerging contemporary "Dharma" teachings (such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction [MBSR] and Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement [MORE]). Although NDA itself may not necessarily be an ultimate goal or destination, attaining NDA may signify an important landmark for one's contemplative development. The purpose of this presentation is to explore the merit of investigating NDA in the context of emerging interdisciplinary contemplative studies, by considering how best to investigate NDA in empirically tractable ways. First, the presentation will cover the knotty problem of how NDA should be conceptualized and defined, followed by introductory comments on how we envision approaching NDA and its related phenomena, from perspectives of cognitive science and consciousness studies. Second, it will discuss the development and validation of two measures of non-dual awareness (NDA), the Non-dual Awareness Dimensional Assessment-Trait (NADA-T) and the Non-dual Awareness Dimensional Assessment-State (NADA-S). Data indicate that the NADA-T is psychometrically sound, representing a novel, standardized instrument capable of facilitating quantitative investigation of NDA. Furthermore, data reveal that the NADA-S may be useful for measuring fluctuations in non-dual states of awareness evoked during "standard" mindfulness meditation practice and other contemplative techniques designed to transform the nature of consciousness. Third, it will discuss the clinical utility of NDA, as a means of creating and inducing the direct experience of interconnectedness that may underlie therapeutic benefits for ameliorating suffering and managing pain-related symptoms. Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement (MORE), developed by Eric Garland, for working with addiction, pain and stress symptoms, has been designed to make it possible for MORE practitioners to "taste" flavors of NDA. Findings describing potential impacts of MORE on NDA in chronic pain patients on long-term opioid therapy undergoing MORE treatment sessions were briefly discussed to conclude this presentation. In conclusion, emerging empirical and theoretical work on NDA should be seen as one domain of viable inquiry in an overall changing Zeitgeist of psychedelic medicine and mind-body intervention research.