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Title: Inner and Outer Journeys: A Qualitative Life History of Modern Yoga and Meditation as Body-Self-Transforming Pedagogies
Author: Leledaki, Aspasia
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2007
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The purpose of this qualitative study is to explore the dynamic transformations of the bodyself- society relationship as storied by 'Western' practitioners in Modem Yoga and Meditation. The study drew upon three philosophical approaches that belong to the interpretive paradigm: the social phenomenological, the hermeneutical and the social constructionist approaches. The use of life history and ethnographic research strategies allowed for the performance of a combination of purposive, opportunistic, snowball and discrepant case sampling that led to conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with ten long-term (studying and practising regularly for more than two years) Yoga and Meditation practitioners/teachers. The practi~es included a variety of traditions like Vipassana Meditation, Zen, Neo-Advaita, Asthanga Yoga, Iyengar Yoga and others. The study used categorical-content and categorical-form analyses to 'bracket' the whats and the hows of the informants' stories respectively. The findings are represented through . . predominantly modified realist tales, which are accompanied by confessional tales and a five-part creative fiction. The fmdings highlight important issues regarding the participants' beginnings with their practices, which are marked by a desire for some form of transformation that broadly alluded to an increased sense of self-reflexivity and resisting feelings of anomie. Also, they illustrate Modem Meditation and Yoga practices as invented traditions, and thus a complex and dynamic socio-cultural fusion of Asian and Western philosophies and pedagogies that transforms in historical time. Furthermore, long-term engagement with Yoga and Meditation practice is suggestive to involve cultivation of an ethical lifestyle and a somaesthetic, kinaesthetic inner bodymind (high degree ofbodymind unity). This set of somatic pedagogies potentially transforms the practitioners' existential feelings, thus moving their body-selves from a restrictive emotional habitus to it more productive one and altering their sense of self, time, space and relationality (body-selfother). The findings also highlighted how the informants tap into an AsianlWestern fusion of embodied metaphorical narrative resourses, and how they (re)create these narratives in the process of constructing narrative coherence. Finally, the implications of this study's findings suggest that al} the above mundializations in the phenomenal, subjective, social and narrative worlds of the informants culminate in three key mundializations of their socialities (spiritual hierarchies, charisma and achievement) and two key mundializations of their body-selves (disciplined liberal body-selves and samadhic body-selves).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available