Liberating the Impurities from the Body: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Somatic Experiences among American and Indian Meditators in the Goenka Vipassana Tradition

Collaborative Group

Professor Jared R. Lindahl, Dr. Willoughby Britton, Dr. Daniel M. Stuart


Department of Religious Studies


This cross-cultural collaborative project brings together a historical and ethnographic study of the Goenka Vipassana tradition in India and a qualitative study of the range of experiences reported by American Buddhist meditation practitioners. While Vipassana narratives present somatic experiences as a path to liberation attained through the release of psycho-somatic impurities, some practitioners report these experiences as being difficult and distressing. This collaborative project illuminates the range of meditation experiences reported by practitioners in this tradition in both India and the West, and contextualizes the way such experiences are appraised within the historical and social frameworks of these two cultural contexts.