« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 30, 2008

Dates for Visiting Experts

by Maggi Adamek

As part of our wonderful grant from the UMN Institute for Advanced Study, we will enjoy several 3 day visits with internationally-recognized experts on embodiment and knowing. Here are the dates for these visits:

January 14 - 16, 2009 - Gill Wright Miller, Chair, Department of Dance, Denison University. This will be a 3 day embodiment workshop (9 a.m. - 4 p.m. each day) in the Barker Center for Dance on the West Bank of the UMN campus.

March 23 - 25, 2009 - Maxine Sheets-Johnstone, Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Oregon. This will include a private embodiment workshop with the Embodied Methodologies Working Group, two public seminars (one at the Institute for Advanced Study and another sponsored by the Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior), and a potluck dinner with the investigators.

May 2009 dates to be determined - Evan Thompson from University of Toronto's Department of Philosophy will join us

Monthly Embodiment Workshop Dates

Greetings -

Below are the dates for our 3 hour, monthly embodiment workshops. Please note they are always 9 a.m. - noon on the third Friday of the month at Three Smooth Stones studio (http://www.3smoothstones.com/wst_page5.html) in south Minneapolis:

Friday, December 19 - 9 a.m. - noon

Friday, January 16 - 9 a.m. - noon
Friday, February 20 - 9 a.m. - noon
Friday, March 20 - 9 a.m. - noon
Friday, April 17 - 9 a.m. - noon
Friday, May 15 - 9 a.m. noon

Remember, you are free to join us for breakfast at 8 a.m. at the Birchwood Cafe across the street from the studio every session.


We will meet for our first potluck on Wednesday, December 10 at 6 p.m. at Jane Plihal's house:

3439 11Th Ave So
Minneapolis, MN 55407

I will bring the main dish. Please bring a vegetable, bread, dessert or drink. Please post in the comments section before December 8 to let us know what you will be bringing, so I can make sure that we have a balanced meal (as in not 8 loaves of bread...).

See you there!

Stages of Embodied Practice

by Margie Fargnoli

Our first embodiment workshop was wonderful and I wanted to say how impressed I was with everyone's quality of participation.

After talking with Maggi, I thought it would be a good idea to review the particular steps we're using to explore embodiment from the BodyMind Centering perspective. As I said in my introduction at the workshop, this is not the only way to approach embodiment, but it is, in my opinion, a very good way because it is so clear and so grounded in the body.

Here are the steps we used:

1) Visualization -

This is the process by which the brain imagines aspects of the body and in so doing informs the body that it exists. In ths process there is a director or guide.

By using the senses, vision, touch and sound we clarify the internal geography of the body. Pictures, models, DVD's - anything that will give you an accurate three dimensional understanding of the tissue you are hoping to embody is worth using.

Next, internalize the visualization. Move around with it. See it inside yourself. "Where are my bones?" "What does it feel like to move across the room while envisioning my skeleton moving?" Start making an internal map that you can use to guide you to whatever "location" you're investigating. The visualization helps us understand the location/geography and shape of the location - bones, organs, etc.

2) Somatization

...is the process by which the kinesthetic (movement), proprioceptive (position) and tactile (touch) sensory systems inform the body that it (the body) exists. In this process there is a witness, an inner awareness through movement and/or touch.

Following the map from visualization, I often suggest that we place or direct our attention or awareness in the tissue or system. Our directed attention combined with the visualized "map" guides us, opening us to experience that comes directly from the system or tissue as we move it or are being moved by it. As we are investigating,we are noticing the sensations, feelings, and/or perceptions that arise. Our attention is thus focused toward the direct qualities of experience in a given tissue and we are able to discriminate different qualities of experience between different tissues.

On Friday it became evident that situating awareness in the bones gave rise to a very different quality of consciousness as compared to situating awareness in the organs.

3) Embodiment

is the cells' awareness of themselves. You let go of your conscious mapping. It is a direct experience: there are no intermediary steps or translations. There is no guide , no witness. There is a fully known consciousness of the experienced moment initiated from the cells themselves.

This is a purely receptive sensory state. We attend to the co-arising of experience and the knowing of the experience. We are not managing the experience. This can be a difficult shift for us to make, especially if we have been practicing a cognitively-based styles of investigation that embrace a kind of forward momentum - thinking as a form of motoring. We are very quick to make meaning out of what we experience without understanding the importance of the influence of the original experience - the embodied, pre-reflective experience.

Meaning-making happens so quickly that it's easy to miss the actual embodied state. So embodiment as a practice takes patience and letting go of tightening in the mind (which is not to say a sloppy kind of loosy goosiness, but rather an alert, relaxed clear "seeing". It then may take a bit to language the experience or make meaning from it.

Quotes are from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's, Sensing, Feeling and Action, (2nd Edition). Copies of this book are availabler at Coffman Union on the Minneapolis Campus or can be purchased online at www.bodymindcentering.com.

November 24, 2008

Shusterman Article

by Maggi Adamek

This is a wonderful article that demonstrates how somatics can be integrated into scholarly methodologies and can influence a discipline....

Download file

What is experience?

by Maggi Adamek

Last Friday, the Embodied Methodologies working group participated in its first embodiment workshop as part of a grant supported by the University of Minnesota's Institute for Advanced Studies. This three hour workshop focused on the concept of "experience" by leading the group through a two-part embodied investigation: (1) the container - skeletal system and (2) the contents - organs. We closed our exploration through a reflection about our experiences doing this.

I will ask our resident somatic expert, Margie Fargnoli, to write a separate post on the steps for exploring embodiment and the related concepts of proprioception, kinesthesis, and awareness. But, what we embarked on last week was a step toward what philosopher, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, called for but never developed:

"Here one wants to speak of a notion of cenesthesia, meaning a mass of sensations that would express to the subject the state of his different organs and different bodily functions. Thus my body for me, and your body for you, could be reached, and be knowable, by means of a cenesthesic sense." (The Primacy of Perception, Northwestern University Press, 1964, p. 114)

Cultivating this cenesthesic sense is a process that Don Hanlon Johnson refers to as "disciplined experiencing" or what Bill Poteat calls the "aware body." Using the bodymind's attentional, proprioceptive and kinesthetic built-in capabilities, we acquire an increasingly sophisticated and refined sense of our own embodiment - Merleau-Ponty's cenesthesic sense. Our group is using Body-Mind Centering as the sensual technology to do this exploration.

If we are to use a 'sensual technology' or cenesthesic sense to explore our experience of embodiment, what then do we mean by experience? Numerous philosophers and thinkers have articulated what type of experience we refer to when we dwell in the realm of embodiment:

Eugene Gendlin: experience is the "...the inward receptivity of a living body...Experiencing is a constant, ever present, underlying phenomenon of inwardly sentient living" (p. 15)

Richard Shusterman: "pre-cognitive, non-linguistic experience" (p. 2)

John Dewey: "primary experience"

Merleau-Ponty: "..the basic experience of the world...[as] that which precedes knowledge"

Wilshire: "..spontaneous and prereflective....utterly pre-reflective awareness"

Fontana: "...direct experience of conscious processes"

Husserl: "...the things themselves"

So, we are using an embodied methodology to learn how to access this level of embodied experience, one which happens prior to the formation of language, thought or construct - the very immediate sensory level.

Last week, we focused on the 'direct experience' of our bones and organs...learning to pay attention to the actual experience of the bones as living tissue in our body, the quality of sensations in our organs as they do their liver-y thing.

Article for First Embodiment Workshop

Here is the article we used as the basis for our first embodiment workshop....

Download file

Our Embodiment Workshops

A key part of our investigation in the Embodied Methodologies working group involves monthly 3 hour somatic workshops, led by one of our scholar-investigators, Margie Fargnoli (UMN Dept of Theater Arts and Dance/Certified Body-Mind Centering practitioner).....

After our first workshop last Friday (November 21, 2008), we determined the following about structure of future workshops:

1) We will include journaling time for 20 minutes during each workshop to document immediate experiences and use these reflections to share with the group as a whole as part of our dialogue at the close of the workshop. Furthermore, this documentation will be used as 'raw data' to feed into future articles that we write together.

2) We need to ensure that each of us has adequate time to share with the group their immediate impressions of the embodied investigation during the workshop.

3) We like the space that we have selected for the workshops....

4) The fall workshops will focus on 'experience' - the spring workshops on 'relationship'....

more to follow....Maggi

November 21, 2008

Getting Started

by Maggi Adamek

This is primarily a test entry for the new blog designed for the Embodied Methodologies Research Group at the University of Minnesota. However, I thought I would take the opportunity to document a bit of the conversation among our group thus far as well as questions that are emerging:

What scholarly transformation occurs as a result of embodied practice?
How do we apply or engage embodied content in our scholarly and teaching work - what are the applications and implications in existing or new work that we and other colleagues undertake?
How do people study embodiment?
How do we position the work within the University?
What does it mean to say "the body knows?"
How will we document what we are learning? what is occurring to us?
What are appropriate structures for having dialogue among the investigators? For documenting in the moment what are our emergent questions and embodied experiences?
What is shifting for the individual scholar and for the process of shared discovery as we go through this process?
How do we legitimize this work?
How can we develop embodied pedagogy for the classroom? What would it look like? What would the outcomes be?
What are cultural roots and philosophical grounding of BodyMind Centering?