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Clarifying Perception: The Micro-phenomenological Method
Dates: Jun 15, 2020 - Jun 21, 2020
Days: Mon - Sun (6 Nights)

Instructor(s): Claire Petitmengin

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As with some forms of Buddhist practice, classical phenomenology involves suspending beliefs about the objects of consciousness, enabling us to become aware of structures that underlie our experience. Micro-phenomenology is a new scientific discipline enabling us to discover dimensions of our lived experience that are ordinarily inaccessible and to describe them accurately and reliably. Exploring and using the micro-phenomenological interview method, this course will help contemplatives, clinicians, artists, researchers, and others learn how to collect fine-grained descriptions of the lived experience associated with a sensorial, emotional, and cognitive processes. Applying the micro-phenomenological interview method to meditation helps meditators become more mindful. The outcome of a micro-phenomenological study is thus similar to vipassana, and contributes to enhancing the focus and accuracy of the practice of insight.

This course is suitable for those interested in the method for professional endeavors as well as those who wish to apply the micro-phenomenological process in their own meditative practice. Please visit microphenomenology.com for more information about this discipline.

Learning Intentions:

To distinguish the descriptive elements of experience from other levels such as explanations and judgments, and cultivatin awareness of how to guide the interview in these different dimensions;

To guide the interviewed persons from a general description towards the description of a singular experience, that is situated in space and time, and to help them mobilize their concrete memory to evoke this experience;

To collect descriptions of the diachronic and synchronic dimensions of an experience by guiding the interviewees into the temporal fragmentation of the experience and the description of its cognitive, sensory, attentional and emotional dimensions;

To detect the verbal and non-verbal clues of implicit information in the interviewee's discourse and explore these with relevant questions;

To manage the relationship with the interviewee by defining the framework and objective of the interview, knowing how to reformulate the interviewee's words and creating and maintaining the conditions for good non-verbal communication with the interviewee;

To learn elements of analysis of the descriptions by identifying the diachronic and synchronic structures of the experiences, and detecting possible regularities (generic structures).

Noble Silence and Mindful Speech:

Noble silence will be observed following the evening session through breakfast the following morning.

Experience Level:

Suitable for both beginning and experienced practitioners.

Applications for this program are due by March 1, 2020.
  • Claire Petitmengin After studies in Buddhist philosophy and ten years of consulting and research on information system design, Claire Petitmengin completed a PhD thesis under the supervision of Francisco Varela at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris on the subject of the lived experience that accompanies the emergence of an intuition. She is currently Professor Emerita at the Institut Mines-Télécom and member of the Archives Husserl, Ecole Normale Supérieure, Paris. Her research focuses on the usually unrecognized dynamics of lived experience and "micro-phenomenological" methods enabling us to become aware of it and describe it.

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