Introducing our new undergraduate research assistant, Vega Bharadwaj

Q. What is your personal experience with contemplative practice?

A. I’ve found that meditation has influenced me most in my emotional investment with other people and events. For example, I never used to cry when hearing someone tell a sad story, but nowadays I find myself tearing up and feeling second-hand anger whenever someone has been hurt. With all the devastating injustices and natural disasters that have rained over different parts of the world recently, it has been eye-opening to allow myself to feel wholeheartedly rather than to passively watch from a distance.

Q. Is it important for other people to have the opportunity to experience the effects of contemplative practices?

A. Contemplative practice is a highly personal experience. It can bring about many powerful emotions and realizations within a person–but it may be hard to convince someone to engage in meditation if they do not believe that it actually works.

Q. What about this study attracted your interest? How did you decided to become a research assistant?

A. I was amazed by the profound effects that meditation brought to my life, so I wanted to find a way to get more involved with finding ways to quantify contemplation.

Q. Why do you think it is important to study contemplative practices with empirical methods?

A. I anticipate that people will continue to think of meditation as a quack practice unless there are rigorous papers published in defense of it.