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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?


My time with you still resonates. The question that guides your group is so important and so little addressed, either within mainstream academics or the body community. How does becoming more sensitive affect our intelligence. There is a great piece in a recent New York Review of Books "Sweet Potato Pie" that analyzes the body language of Obama and McCain. It is very thoughtful—and compassionate. Don

Last Friday's workshop was wonderful and I wanted to say how impressed I was with everyone's quatlity 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 BMC perspective. As I said in my intro, 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 and the body. So here are the spteps we used. The quotes are from Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen's Sensing, Feeling and Action, 2nd Edition. There are some copies over at Cofman if anyone's interested.

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 geopgraphy of the body. Picutres, models, DVD's, anything that will give you an accurate three demensional understanding of the tissue you are hoping to embody is worth using. Next internalize the visualization. Move around with it. See it inside yourself. Start making an internal map that you can use to guide you to whatever "location" you're investigating.

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 visulaization I often suggest that we place our attention in the tissue or system the "map" guides us too and open to the 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. On Friday it became evident that situating awareness in the bones gave rise to a very different quality of consiousness as compared to situating awareness in the organs.

Embodiemnt "is the cells' awareness of themselves. You let go of your conscious mapping. It is a direct experience: there is are no intermediary steps or translations. there is no guide , no witness. There is a fully known consciousness of the experienced moment inititated 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 expereince. This can be a difficult shift for us to make, especially if we have been practicing a kind of investigation cognitively that embraces a kind of forward momentum, thinking as a form of motoring. We are very quick to make meaning out of what we expereince without understanding the importance of the influence of the original 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.

Hope this helps.