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Retracing the Labyrinth: Applying Phenomenology for Embodied Interpretation



According to phenomenological tradition, particularly Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961) and his followers, the body is the first purveyor of lived experience. Our corporeal bodies can inform our process and interpretation as researchers. As a researcher concerned with bodily topics as well as process, my work intentionally includes concrete techniques geared to collect embodied data. Yet in an experimental design study, where I carefully structured my framework to include somatic techniques, I discovered that somatically geared data collection alone failed to reveal the full depth of the findings. I was able to tap into a fuller range of whole body insights by reorienting the phenomenological stage of imaginative variation by using labyrinth walking to inform my interpretation. This presentation is based on my recent research that investigated the work experience of massage therapists. Here I describe how attending to my own somatic markers resulted in my conducting a second and deeper phenomenological interpretation of my data. Using the image and physicality of a labyrinth, I literally took another turn with the data. As a result, I produced findings that were more embodied in the research question, the participants, and their life-world. In addition, the outcome was vastly more satisfying for me as the researcher.
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Der amerikanische Psychotherapeut Eugene T. Gendlin stellte in Untersuchungen fest, dass Menschen, die gut mit Krisen und Problemen umgehen können, offenbar über eine andere Art der Selbstwahrnehmung verfügen: Sie beziehen körperliche Empfindungen ein und äußern sich nicht nur theoretisch oder abstrakt über ihre Lage. Von dieser Beobachtung ausgehend, entwickelt Gendlin eine Methode, solche Art der Selbstwahrnehmung zu lehren: Focusing. In seinem Buch stellt er die Technik des Focusing vor und erläutert zugleich, wei diese zur Selbsthilfe bei der Lösung persönlicher Probleme eingesetzt werden kann.
Contemporary culture increasingly suffers from problems of attention, over-stimulation, and stress, and a variety of personal and social discontents generated by deceptive body images. This book argues that improved body consciousness can relieve these problems and enhance one’s knowledge, performance, and pleasure. The body is our basic medium of perception and action, but focused attention to its feelings and movements has long been criticized as a damaging distraction that also ethically corrupts through self-absorption. In Body Consciousness, Richard Shusterman refutes such charges by engaging the most influential twentieth-century somatic philosophers and incorporating insights from both Western and Asian disciplines of body-mind awareness.
Cover Blurb: Researching Lived Experience introduces an approach to qualitative research methodology in education and related fields that is distinct from traditional approaches derived from the behavioral or natural sciences—an approach rooted in the “everyday lived experience” of human beings in educational situations. Rather than relying on abstract generalizations and theories, van Manen offers an alternative that taps the unique nature of each human situation. The book offers detailed methodological explications and practical examples of hermeneutic-phenomenological inquiry. It shows how to orient oneself to human experience in education and how to construct a textual question which evokes a fundamental sense of wonder, and it provides a broad and systematic set of approaches for gaining experiential material that forms the basis for textual reflections. Van Manen also discusses the part played by language in educational research, and the importance of pursuing human science research critically as a semiotic writing practice. He focuses on the methodological function of anecdotal narrative in human science research, and offers methods for structuring the research text in relation to the particular kinds of questions being studied. Finally, van Manen argues that the choice of research method is itself a pedagogic commitment and that it shows how one stands in life as an educator.