Miri Albahari has a nice review of Waking, Dreaming, Being: Self and Consciousness in Neuroscience, Meditation, and Philosophy, by friend and contributor to the IPB, Evan Thompson.
This is a ground-breaking philosophical exploration of consciousness and the self as they occur across the states of waking, falling asleep, dreaming, lucid dreaming, deep dreamless sleep, out-of-body experiences and dying. Evan Thompson’s rich, beautifully written book interweaves lucid prose with relevant personal anecdotes, bringing the latest neuroscience together with ancient contemplative wisdom to offer valuable insight into the nature of consciousness and the self. The first-person methodologies of Indian and Asian contemplative traditions such as Yoga, Vedānta and Buddhism generate data that go beyond the reach of the standard scientific approach taken by Western neuroscience and psychology, for example on the possible presence of consciousness during deep dreamless sleep. At the same time, the Western scientific and philosophical approach serves to temper some of Indian metaphysical assertions, such as the claim that consciousness does not depend upon the brain. Thompson argues convincingly that the different approaches — combined to form ‘neurophenomenology’ — produce data that reinforce and complement each other, solidifying findings that, from just one perspective, would be more speculative (for example, that a minimal moment of reportable object-directed awareness is 10-20ms). One of main theses to emerge from the study is that the self is a fluid process, not a static thing, nor the illusion of a thing. Like clouds, the ‘I-making’ enacted self breaks up and re-forms with the different states of being, and like a sunlit sky, the luminous and pure background consciousness is able reveal the workings and contents of both, all the more so if cultivated as a meta-awareness through practices of meditation and mindfulness.