Body-Mind Integration: Reclaiming the Forgotten Treasure

Engler, Zuza (2010) Body-Mind Integration: Reclaiming the Forgotten Treasure. Doctoral thesis, Meridian University.


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This study explores body-mind integration by examining the Research Problem: When embodying and expressing feeling through movement, what allows for releasing and reclaiming dissociated fragments of experience? The hypothesis stated: When embodying and expressing feeling through movement, sustained somatic attention in following an image and the ability to tolerate somatic and cognitive discomfort of the unknown allow for releasing and reclaiming dissociated fragments of experience. The Literature Review presents sources addressing the mind-body relationship, trauma and dissociation, affect theories, integrated approaches to psychology and psychotherapy, dance and movement as healing modalities and imaginal perspectives. Most sources reveal a lack of appreciation for the somatic aspects of human existence. The four-phase research methodology of Imaginal Inquiry was utilized, consisting of Evoking Experience, Expressing Experience, Interpreting Experience, and Integrating Experience. Nine participants and two co-researchers met twice in a group. Five learnings emerged from this study. First, exploring somatic process within a group constellates a transformative field in which a person can transcend one’s personal story and spontaneously engage in a communal, ritual enactment of affect. Second, in a group exploration of affect, repeated surrender of the egoic identity facilitates deepening engagement with previously unexplored aspects of experience. Third, exploration of vi affect through movement, by facilitating suspension of familiar modes of knowing, allows contact with Mystery via surprising turns of experience. Fourth, the experience of not moving during movement explorations can allow for resting in rich and fertile stillness; it can also be an expression of the struggle between expression and suppression, best met by returning to movement; negotiating this struggle requires sensitive and compassionate discernment. And fifth, consciously embodying and expressing fear requires a willingness to face existential anxiety; an invitation to do so is met with resistance, yet engaging fear creatively may lead to empowerment. The cumulative learning is that a group exploration of somatic process through movement and art is a descent into the underworld in which one’s personal experience becomes part of a ritual enactment of feeling. The degree of body-mind integration depends on individuals’ willingness to repeatedly sacrifice their egoic identity, surrender to Mystery, and sensitively engage the territory of inertia and fear. This study shows how working with body and feeling can assist personal and cultural integration, as seen through the mythical lens of Inanna’s descent to the underworld.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: Psychology > Critical Theory
Depositing User: Zuza Engler
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2017 21:49
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2017 21:49

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