Source: Discussions on somatic education
While on my work-related travels last week, I had the joy of being in the same room and space with my colleagues and students. One of my students, who encapsulates being a somatic based scholar-practitioner, commented to me on an article I published a few years ago based on a self-study body-scan exercise (Fortune, 2011).
She wrote (K. Cooley, personal communication, November 23, 2015):
Some thoughts that I have about your paper, stem particularly from these two lines:
“but teaching somatic awareness requires increased substantiation and training for widespread implementation.”
“Recent advancements in neuroscience hold potential for content putting evidence to support wider spread application for somatic awareness yet the disconnect between the concepts of physiological science and philosophies of the mind contributes to linguistic inadequacies for mind-body exploration the contemporary proliferation of neuroscience data and findings leaves a gap and examining the quality of somatic experience.”
She went on to say that she incorporated her reflections into a paper which she then incorporated into a posting for her blog. In this post, she looks at somatic awareness affecting health looking at stress responses. http://www.thebodymindful.com/neck-and-shoulder-chronic-pain-and-stress/
I am honored to be generative, seeing my work morph through others into new and innovative thinking. But also, I value more than ever the importance of connecting in-person. There is nothing like being there.
Fortune, L. D. (2011). Essences of somatic awareness as captured in a verbally directed body scan: A phenomenological case study. In R. L. Lanigan (Ed.), Schutzian Research: A Yearbook of Worldly Phenomenology and Qualitative Social Science (Vol. 3, pp. 105-118). Bucharest, Romania: Zeta Books.
I have returned from an academic conference (Society for Phenomenology and Human Sciences- see http://rz18.wwwdns.rz.uni-konstanz.de/index.php) where I comingled with learned academics and presented collaborative work that lies at the core of my scholarship. In partnership with three most valued others (see http://embodiedresearch.com) we presented an unconventional (for most academic philosophers, anyway) workshop based on our shared interest in embodied research. By this we mean our shared goal to introduce bodymindfulness and somatic awareness to both topics and process in human science research.
Our panel was met with warm though sometimes skeptical responses. This was not unexpected based on our errant approach and the underlying awkwardness that accompanied the experiential panel in this overwhelmingly intellectual forum. Yet we were inspired by a common felt sense about possibilities. Appropriately and naturally, we debriefed afterwards, reflecting and planning on where to next take our work. We are considering a assembling book proposal. Inevitably, the topic of our competencies arose.
We mused that we were like pound dogs, mutts coming to academic pursuits via a jagged path, mindful that we were relative newcomers surrounded by career academics. Given my own personal history, I discovered that the pound-dog image struck a particularly deep cord. My details are personal and I realize I am not alone in having a story and that each of our stories is reflected in our present condition. The amazing part is that we are present, not only as scholars but as mutts.
A bit of research reveals that in spite of poor public image mutts are a preferential sub-breed. Their cross- and random hybridization contributes to strengths that seem orchestrated by a higher authority. Subsequently, in their randomized hybrid state, they are more adaptable. Hybrids avoid poly-genetic conditions, double recessives are less likely to occur, and have less propensity for unfavorable traits that are hard to eliminate from the gene pool (Haraway, 2003). They are notoriously stronger, faster, more street savvy (read: possessing of phronesis). Mutts exercise their resilience and sustain themselves by moving from one back alley feeding to another, varying their environment, and keeping their survival skills ever-sharp. As a bonus, their diet is diverse (and we are what we eat) and their body and senses well exercised.
In contrast, purebreds are prone to simple and complex genetic disorders that are subject to epigenetic triggers. Purebreeds, by definition, often result from in-breeding. Plus the phenomenon is actually unnatural: purebreds are a man-made phenomenon. Purebreeding is a form of human instigated genetic manipulation to engineer some imaged of the ideal canine companions (Mellersh et al., 2000). Luckily, research indicates that >90% of unique genetic variants are lost over six generations (Calboli et al., 2008). So there is hope even for purebreds (or at least their progeny).
Scholar-practitioners are hybrids. In our group of embodied researchers, we each have professional expertise and histories. In my group of embodied research scholar-practitioners we have been situated in practice fields that are explicitly body-based: Massage, movement therapy, dance, and yoga. We each came to our higher education pursuits and research from a practice-based arena, hoping to contribute academically gained knowledge to our practice fields and enrich research and scholarship with our insider’s expertise from the realm of praxis. Because of our hybridization we speak with authority and authenticity on body based topics. By our very nature, we are challengers.
Based on my anecdotal experience as well as my research (cite Fortune, 2014), scholar-practitioners are positioned to be mavericks. We often stepped back from practice careers at the height of our earning potential and notoriety potential to side-step into scholarly exploration of our fields. In addition, the data indicates we often experience disruption in our personal lives while we maneuver the depth associated with earning our doctorates. Propelled by passion and determination, we hold ourselves and our work to the highest academic standards. And yet we continue to wonder whether or not we are real scholars
Practically speaking, there are downsides to diluting our attention and talents over the different arenas of scholarship and practice. As relative newcomers to academia we do not have the tenure of knowledge and glib communications skills of life-long academics. Devoid of prestigious credentials and decades of practice, we tend to perceive ourselves as lacking authority, and simple humility risks lapsing into neurotic reticence.
But in reflecting on my own story, I see multiple times that I shied away from refined portals to a pedigree in favor of the more robust road to mutt-dom, perhaps propelled by an inner imperative towards resilience.
One reframe of this tendency is highlighted as a predilection to adaptability. In a recent TedTalk, Wapnick (2015) identified people who pursue, of multi-professional vocations and life paths as “multipotentialites.” One of their primary characteristics is adaptability. As scholars and practitioners, our multiple vocations alone demonstrate certain characteristics and tendencies that are to be revered. According to Wapnick (2015), these include the ability to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge and perspectives. She points out that innovations happen at the intersections, and are propelled by rapid learning and a willingness to step out of our comfort zone. I personally have observed that my best learning comes not from repetition but contrast.
Scholar-practitioners are a special category of multipotentialites, a non-breed that blends versatility with a lofty intention to self-actualize while reaching to make contributions beyond our imaginings. Perhaps in the process, we will end up leading others to where no purebreds could ever venture.
Calboli, F. C., Sampson, J., Fretwell, N., & Balding, D. J. (2008). Population structure and inbreeding from pedigree analysis of purebred dogs. Genetics, 179(1), 593-601.
Fortune, L.D. (2014). The Lived Experience of Mid-Life Scholar- Practitioners: A Hermeneutic Phenomenological Study. [conference paper} Presented at Annual Meetings of the Society for Phenomenology and Human Studies (SPHS), New Orleans. LA, October 2014. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269701503_The_Lived_Experience_of_Mid-Life_Scholar-Practitioners_A_Phenomenological_Pilot_Study
Haraway, D. (2003). 8. For the Love of a Good Dog. Race, Nature, and the Politics of Difference, 254.
Mellersh, C. S., Hitte, C., Richman, M., Vignaux, F., Priat, C., Jouquand, S., … & Galibert, F. (2000). An integrated linkage-radiation hybrid map of the canine genome. Mammalian Genome, 11(2), 120-130.
Wapnick, E. (2015, April). What if you don’t have one true calling? Ted Talks. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/emilie_wapnick_why_some_of_us_don_t_have_one_true_calling?utm_source=newsletter_weekly_2015-10-03&utm_campaign=newsletter_weekly&utm_medium=email&utm_content=talk_of_the_week_image
This panel on recent research and scholarship will be presented at the 2015 Annual Meeting of THE SOCIETY FOR PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE HUMAN SCIENCES (SPSH) in Atlanta on October 8, 2015.
The purpose of this panel is to share a conceptual model and experiential methods for incorporating embodiment into scholarship and research. Phenomenological literature abounds with references for the need to affirm the sentient body through reflection and exploration. To ground the theoretical in the flesh, scholars need to integrate embodiment in their topics, their subjects, and themselves in the course of conducting research (Todres, 2007). As a practical matter, scholars agree that empirical research would benefit from more attention to bodily experience (Finlay, 2006). But “how to” guides for bringing the body into the research process are limited (e.g. Sharma, Reimer-Kirkham, & Cochrane, 2009) and leave investigators lacking specific techniques with inevitable gaps remain between theory and practice.
This panel’s presentations are orchestrated to prompt interaction, to blend mentally conjured framework with corporeal enactment. The first segment will present a conceptual model based on Stages of Change theory (Prochaska, Norcross, & DiClemente, 2013) suggesting that research follows similar intersecting phases. Within that model, the subsequent three segments will engage a purpose to embodied research: a) to honor the body-based subject matter, b) to integrate the bodily perceptions into data collection, and c) to own somatic experience through the research process as a vehicle to deeper understanding and transformation.
This panel will present collaboratively inviting experiential elements, interaction and discussion.
Luann Fortune, Phd, MA, LMT serves as faculty and administration in the School of Mind-Body Medicine at Saybrook University and holds a fellowship at Fielding’s Institute of Social Innovation. In her practice life, she was a massage therapist and wellness consultant for 20 yrs.
Also presenting with Luann:
Stephanie Lindsay, PhD, faculty, Saybrook University, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ann Ritter, doctoral student, Fielding Graduate University, email@example.com
Clifford Smyth, MS, doctoral student, Saybrook University, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am traveling and thus I will be missing a labyrinth workshop this weekend (April 25) at my wonderful church on Sanibel Island, St. Michaels and All Angels. I have a deep love of labyrinths, which I have enacted all over the globe and shared with my closest friends and collagues. While I have been blessed with its graces in my personal growth, it has also served me as a research tool.
Labyrinth walking particularly helped me move through my most challenging and personal research project. I had engaged in somatic practices, such as yoga, throughout my various research projecs, but the labyrinth took my reflections to a deeper plane.
The labyrinth has appeared in world religions since ancient times (Artress, 1995). It is a physical structure, usually circular, containing a path arranged in patterns. Labyrinths are believed mystical, based on sacred geometry, “created in the realm of the collective unconscious, birthed through the human psyche and passed down through the ages” (Artress, p. 45). Unicursal, there is one defined path that leads to the center which is reversed to come out. In Christian tradition, labyrinth ritual is a 3-fold practice: a) Walking inward, or purgation, involves releasing control and suspending judgment; b) Illumination, at the center, is the source of insights; and c) Union, beginning with the outward path, integrates insights into greater meaning (Artress, pp. 29-30).
Interestingly, these stages mirror the stages of applied phenomenological research. I gave a paper (SPHS, 2012) about those parallels and on my experience in using labyrinth walking as a research tool. The entire paper is posted on ResearchGate (Fortune, 2012).
To my labyrinth walking friends: know I miss you and journey with you regularly in my imagination and meditations.
Artress, L. (2006). Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Practice. Berkeley, CA: Riverhead Trade.
Fortune, L. D. (2012). Retracing the Labyrinth: Applying Phenomenology for Embodied Interpretation. Paper presented at the Annual Meetings of the Society for Phenomenology and Human Studies, Rochester, NY. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/275346751_Retracing_the_Labyrinth_Applying