Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The selfs we work with

Engaging into the topic of phantom sensations which is in neuroscience often debated in terms of neural body representations (body image, body schema), the question we needed to consider right at the beginning was „what body we work with?”- how the body is defined as a material to shape with experiences.

We chose our working body to be available and accessible for stimuli and any kind of responses, alert to its constant transformation, reorganisation, a fluently changing sensual form, which is uncertain or even does not know its own shape or constitution. Informed by reports of sensations in phantom limbs, in which the body schema built from sensory and proprioceptive information creates another body structure than the representational body image, the body we work with could only be the one adaptive to sensory input, which re-constitues itself due to sensory re-mapping.

Along the researching process, we found suspected support in somatic approaches, neuroscience and experiential reports. For instance, in Body-Mind Centering
"the 'mind' of each cell, body tissue, and fluid, expressed in feeling states, posture, and movement patterns, is by nature open to the constant flow of momentary change”.*
Interestingly, it is the 'mind' of cells which has the property to allow constant transformation. Here the concept of the body meets one of the fresh definitions of the mind in neuroscience, the view of mind as a „process that regulates the flow of energy and information”**.
This definition entails that mind is subject to ceaseless recreating its content, continuously formulating its matter. Moreover, it has a sense of intentionality – being a process heading somewhere, even if the goal realises rather in sequences (streams) of temporary states, than any arrival point.
As dance artist Gill Clarke states, „mind in a sense IS motion”***.

The integrity of the body and mind concepts invites to employ rather one consistent entity than analyze two separate processes. Following Gill Clarke, this entity may be the self which encompass integrated body and mind, defined with the described qualities. In this case not the body and the mind, but the self is undergoing or designing its own constant transformation of the matter. 
While the term "self" allows us avoid the dualism, it brings up another broad territory of psychological and philosophical discourse. However, it may function well when working with multimodal events, where sensations, stimulations, images, cultural associations, memories, bodily states, movement, gesture are all mixed together and inseparably bound with each other. 

* Hartley, L. (1995). "Wisdom of the body moving". North Atlantic Books
** Siegel, D. "Mindful brain. Reflection and attunement in the cultivation of well-being" 
*** Clarke, G. "Mind is as in motion". www.independentdance.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/MindIsAsInMotion.pdf


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  2. Very inspiring research and great conclusions. I am deeply convinced it is an important step which brings knowledge of many disciplines together. Good luck!