March 27, 2009

what does "not moving" mean?

Restricted, limited, cramped, small, curbed, restrained,
Asleep, deadened, out cold, under, knocked out
Ghost, spector, apparition,
Motionless, unmoving, at a stand still, at rest, at a halt, tranquil?, silent, quiet, stationary, stagnant, static, at rest, even, calm, relieve emotion, not carbonated, unemotional

December 1, 2008

The Meaning of Mind....

by Amy Sheldon

1. Note the modular and dualistic description of what we are doing, e.g. in section #1, "the brain (mind?) imagines aspects of the body". This claims a division of labor and one that is complementary. This is a fiction, isn't it? The brain sends and receives information from our sensing organs through pathways "in the body". The brain is a discrete organ, but is it not also IN the body and connected throughout the body? So note the conventional rhetoric of dualism.

2. "the cells' awareness of themselves"...'awareness'...??? awareness without intervention of a brain AND/OR a mind?

3. In section #3, I am intrigued by the claim, certainly true, that "meaning making happens so quickly", and that there is "prereflective experience", and that there can be a lag to "language the experience or make meaning from it". What if there is no lag...what if thinking, cognition, meaning making is being done simultaneously with input from sense experience? At any rate, that there is a "lag" seems to be a claim that we can not falsify. It is given in faith. Does it matter if sensing and perceiving (or cognitioning) is sequential or simultaneous?

I would guess that psychologists working on perception of sensory experience have talked about these issues before, i.e., the process of transformation of the input from sensory experience into cognition. A place to look might be the research on visual perception in infants and young kids.

(moderator's note - Amy initially wrote this entry as a response to Margie Fargnoli's description of the work we did at our first embodiment workshop. I have posted it as an independent entry to make it easier to find....)

November 24, 2008

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: " 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.