February 16, 2010

"Experiencing my Experience..."

As part of their monthly embodiment workshop on 1/22/10, the Embodied Methodologies Working Group considered the following question:

What insights about your own embodiment have you gained as a result of participating in these embodiment workshops?

Experiencing My Experience

Experiencing my experiencing is a big thing going on for me during these workshops. I have learned how to do this. The usual cognitive activity that I come in with moves to the background and the direct experience moves to the foreground. I have never experienced the 'flipped switch' of cognition to actual lived physiology before this. "Experiencing the experience" happens in different ways. I can't tell you how my experience is foregrounded, but we have talked about "getting out of our own way." I still don't know much about 'getting out of my way,' but now I have experienced it in several different ways by participating in this.

How The Discovery Happens

You can't control when insight happens, but you have to show up. It's about practice and sometimes you luck out and have a deep insight.

Struggling to Experience My Experience: What's Going On?

I didn't flip the switch. I didn't know how to know. I knew I needed to get somewhere, but I couldn't get there I had trouble feeling if I was there. I was trying. I couldn't arrive and then felt myself being pulled away. When I'm troubled in my work, I scramble. When I don't do this type of movement work regularly, I feel peripheral to it - like I've lost my place.

The way I think as an academic is tied to not moving, no mobility, being sedentary. My thinking is smaller. When I move, I wake up and feel more open, more awake, better. I am far more aware of the disconnect between movement, body, mind and how I think.

I try to bring in this style of embodiment practice into my exercise, but it is more difficult to do when I'm by myself.

The Question Is Changing

The question has changed from "how do I bring this into my class?" to "how do I learn to do this myself?" This shift means that when I open to this new question, it will transform me.

March 28, 2009

Reply to Craig on not moving

This entry is written by Amy Sheldon

I'm glad you said this, because it is so true. There is nuance here. Many of us love the FLOW state, when our bodies may be sedentary but we enjoy a feeling of creative movement, pleasurable focus, and being outside of tick-tock time. The downside of being sedentary is its incrementalism, accruing problems for our health over time, making it so the body doesn't work as well, or takes on problems, disabilities, and diseases as a direct result of us restricting our movements. It's the incremental toll of sedentariness in the scholar-teacher's day-by-day life style that is a serious problem, not only because it creates poor health, but also because over time, even though we do move in small ways, our body begins to become less feelable, and we become uncarbonated. Movement makes us carbonated.
Some people prefer the lack of restriction that comes from carbonation, others like stiller contents in our vessel. But as you say, there's no such thing as total non-movement, as long as we are alive. I note your words: "allow me", "better appreciate", "adjust", "let myself shift", "less restricted".

March 17, 2009

Problem with "consciousness"

At our last potluck we each discussed our answers to Maggi's homework question, "What is it like to explore your own embodiment?" The answers fell into two sorts.

Jerry and Maggi related their movement workshop experiences to an analytical discussion of abstract concepts about consciousness. Jane, who was silent, and I, did not. My homework answer to the question was: "It's fun." That's not an academic analysis.

Moving and experiencing my body are ends in themselves, even though, as an adult, I am aware that there are "benefits" that "motivate" me. I probably didn't think in terms of "benefits" when I was an active moving around kid running, rollerskating, and roving around my city and non-city world. And I didn't need to motivate myself to move, because movement was living. Not moving was harder and I did less of that.

Perhaps it's because I don't have the conceptual framework in Phenomenology that I don't reach for *that* framework to translate from physical, emotional engagement to verbal, abstract conceptual analysis of that engagement. Although I can speak about the experience of moving around in other reflective ways, but they are not explicitly grounded in an abstract framework of Phenomenology.

This leads me to the conclusion that, for me, the word "consciousness" is problematic.
I am not inclined to use it in talking about movement explorations.
My preference is to stay anchored in the physicality of experience and the feelings that stay with me after our workshops.

So, to answer the question now, "What is it like to explore your own embodiment?", I'll add that talking about embodiment in the abstract terms of Phenomenology (in the way that Jerry and Maggi were at the pot luck) didn't resonate with me.

Perhaps this means that we have more to talk about about what terms like "consciousness" mean in the phenomenological framework, and what it means in the folk-language framework.

March 10, 2009

Questions from Deep Dive Workshop

During our 3 day "Deep Dive into Embodiment" workshop in early January, the group articulated several questions that surfaced as a result of their work with weight and space, tone, planes, and developmental movement patterns. These questions include:

* How do we ask questions in the context of an embodied approach to inquiry?
* Where does this capacity to explore our own embodiment come from?
* How does the direct experience that we investigate through these workshops affect cognitive processing?
* How can I apply this as a methodology?

Our Questions from Don Johnson's visit

We hosted internationally renowned somatics philosopher, Don Hanlon Johnson, in the fall of 2008. Don offered public seminars, participated in faculty dialogues, led workshops for our Embodied Methodologies Working Group and joined us for dinner conversations. Several questions surfaced as a result of our time with Don, including:

* How do we get feedback from participants? What did they hear in Don's remarks?
* How do we engage this content in real work?
* Can we have more readings to better understand what we are doing?
* How do we structure research projects? Do we 'watch' people being embodied? How does it work? What is the role of the investigator?
* How do people study embodiment?
* What is the connection between self care of scholar/humans and embodied methodologies in research?
* How does the abstract/conceptual/theoretical around embodiment connect to the practical?
* What does it mean to say the body knows?
* What are "body-primary" professions? What are "non-body primary" professions?

January "Deep Dive Into Embodiment" Workshop

We invited Dr. Gill Wright Miller, Chair and Professor, Denison University Dance Department and Body-Mind Centering expert, to conduct a 3 day intensive embodiment workshop based on developmental movement patterns and the connections between embodiment and scholarly practice. As a result of these 3 days, the group engaged in a dialogue in response to the following question:

What questions do you have as a result of your participation in this 3 day workshop?
* What is the difference between being and doing?
is it practical to imagine repatterning the bodymind? What does it take?
* What is the gap between language, sound and movement? How does this work? How does it connect to movement? What can we do?
* How do I get out of my own way with respect to my awareness?
* How does embodiment connect to "life" change and practices?
* How do I load scholarship and teaching with this work in a way that fits with my peers?
* How do we transform our methodologies to become more embodied so that scholarly praxis becomes more sensuous?

These questions suggest a fourfold trajectory of inquiry that includes:

* The role of embodiment in the production of language and the connection of movement to language
* The refinement and style of awareness required to feel proficient at embodied practice
* The personal and professional applications of embodiment practice
* The integration of embodied practice in scholarly inquiry

Perhaps these themes can inform future articles? We see how the questions that arise from intensive, structured engagement with embodiment begin to produce interesting questions and lines of inquiry for research.

March 9, 2009

In September - Our questions

Early in this process, we asked each other about what's coming clear as a result of our collaboration - most people responded with a concrete idea for a research project, like:

* What is the experience of the Body-Mind Centering practitioner and client?
* What is the experience of intercorporeality with young children?
* How does pedagogy in mass education work with respect to the use of tactility?
* What are cultural roots and grounding of Body-Mind Centering?
* How much will this improve my golf game?

There were also questions about legitimacy and validation:

* How do we know this work is real? Can we prove it scientifically?

And one question that was more philosophically oriented:

* What types of metaphysical, epistemological and cosmological shifts are made by scholars undertaking an embodied methodology? What in particular happens to biological scientists?

January 26, 2009

Why pay attention to embodiment at the U and How?

Can we generate a simple list of reasons WHY and HOW to pay attention to embodiment in the classroom and in our research? After each reason would the author indicate if there is evidence for/against the claim they just listed. My reason for asking us to create a list is:
1. Although we may feel we are gaining good info and experiences in our body work, we want to know if it matters for the classroom and for research.
2. It may be that in applying body mindfulness in the classroom the results may not be all good. We could also get our selves into unintended consequences that we don't want or can't handle. Therefore, I think knowing why and how to bring in body mindfulness is prior to deciding to do it.

December 19, 2008

What is embodiment?

The following is an after thought to our wrap up discussion at the end of today's session with Margie.
The post is related to my comment in session that "embodiment" is really as complicated as any other notion, and there are many ways to experience it and ways to talk about it. It also relates to my comment that in the academy we focus a lot on representations...third person descriptions of phenomena, And the representation is central to scholarly research. E.g., what are the facts (empirical description).? How do you account for the facts --how do you represent the objects of study in a theor of the objects?

The below comment also voices my insight from today's session that embodiment is about specific and particular bodies. We had been talking in session about Margie's contribution as our teacher, and what people noted about her. Jane said she noted Margie's voice. Maggie talked about some things and one I recall was Margie's nurturance, her "Mom"-ness. With that as background, I wrote this email when I returned to my office to sit and finish a document...

margie MOVES (and talks, and thinks and dresses...(etc.?)) differently than we do.
she's not like the models we see and maybe tried to measure up to in academia.

She *does being Margie* not just in a different way, but out of a different model of doing one's self.

how we move is a public display of our self
we change the body and we can change our and others' perception of who we are.

margie is also a consistent model of the kind of body-mind she is us.
but it's definitely a margie body-mind.
that degree of specificity and uniqueness matters. Margie is not an every-woman body mind.
There is no body-mind in the abstract! There's no generic body-mind.

without a model...a map...her representation to us through her body (and voice), we couldn't do this..or not in the same way. Something would be compromised.
it's not enough to work from a book, or a movie to become more embodied.

Rather, to learn to be more embodied requires a real body, face-to-face with us.
this is not a distance learning course, neither is parenting...

my point - to be embodied we need a teacher, and we need to see, and at times feel her body, (where the bones are), hear the teacher's voice, see the humanness of her body, (some of your hairs are falling on your sweater, margie...,) etc..

Embodiment is physical.
Eliminate the physical models, props, teachers, human element, and it's not going to be (as) effective.
Human societies have always been face-to-face... until now.
I don't want to get into the issue of virtual bodies, avatars, virtual life, etc., in this post, but I want to say that the element of being face-to-face is a an obvious dimension to being embodied and experiencing embodiment. It may not be necessary...but it is an element of our learning process.
Perhaps as scholars and artists, because our work often takes us into a room alone, the loss of the presence of another body may lead us to feel less embodied...or at least embodied in a different way, maybe less intensely embodied...

What if wisdom of the body was staring us in the face? (Not all wisdom, just some). Because a lot of it for us adults has to be excavated. In these sessions we are excavating, diving down. Is embodioment a practice one has to do on a daily basis to maintain?

To paraphrase Justine Cassell, "Why do we have a body and what do we want to do with it?"
why do we have to ask this question?

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?

October 10, 2008

The Earliest Questions

In early September before we began our work together as a research collaborative, I met with co-investigator Amy Sheldon to hear her questions about this approach to inquiry. These questions included:

* Can we critique this type of work?
* How is this work anchored in a structured approach?
* How does the 'old structure' interface with this 'new structure' to inquiry?
* What are examples of this type of work? What is involved in transitioning from an old structure of inquiry to a new one?
* Where can we go with embodied inquiry? What does it do for our scholarship?
* What do we need to do to make it legitimate and rigorous?
* What are the limitations to this approach?
* What is it that we are trying to understand as a result of embodied inquiry?

It will be interesting to determine what the answers are to these questions as we undertake our work over the academic year.