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Multisensory Embodiment as a Gaian Methodology


Gaian methodology involves implementing the holistic understanding of sustainability into methods research. Part of the holistic understanding of Gaia and the hypothesis and the ensuing methodology is an understanding of where we, as humans, fit into the paradigm. We are an embodiment of the paradigm, and that is why if we harm the earth we are harming ourselves.

We are made of the same substances as Earth, we are adamah, earth, in Hebrew the same root word for soil as for the first humanoid. Our bones are minerals, our bodies mostly water and salts. We are made of the same matter as all other living things. We are earth and water, air and fire. If the elements do not work together, we have no vessel for spirit or soul to inhabit. We embody systems that are intricately and integrally connected and cannot function without one another. Earth is the same. Both contain mystery, both contain evidence for empirical knowledge. What is clear is that it is not simply a divine joke or coincidence--we are all made of the same stuff. Andrea Olsen says, “What is out there is in us, and what is in us, is out there” (Body and earth: an experiential guide, 2008, p. xi).

Some of the ways that humans reveal their embodied nature is through religious ceremony, community rituals, and dancing. Humans dance to connect with heaven and earth, to embody the earth’s energy and radiate it. When drumming, the drummer brings air to life, pumping the blood, connecting us to the earth and bringing the fire of spirit—all the elements in motion. In the book Dance, human rights, and social justice: Dignity in motion (2008) editors Naomi Jackson and Toni Shapiro-Phim, discuss how dance is “multi-layered” and embodies various human needs. They write:

  • Dance holds the power to create a sense of community and shared perspective, displays sensuality and sexuality, embodies memories in a tangible medium, sustains and communicates cultural values that are held dear by a group, and expresses deeply felt emotions, including the agony of loss and the exuberance of life and/or transcendence of spirit. (p. xix)

Dancing is one of the best examples of embodiment, of using Gaian methodology in action. We are earth, we are dancing earth, we are embodied earth, dancing our stories in time and place for future generations.

Embodiment is an important concept in Gaian methodology, it is the piece of the methodology that is tangible; it is the meeting ground of art and science within the methodology. Embodiment is how we engage and act it out. In dazzle gradually (2007), a series of essays and articles by Lynn Margulis and her son Dorion Sagan (Margulis is a biologist and the first wife of astronomer and scientist Carl Sagan, Dorion Sagan is their firstborn son, also a scientist/philosopher) the authors have a wonderful way of uniting intricate scientific facts with mundane human metaphor, as in the essays “An Evolutionary Striptease” and “The Riddle of Sex,” exploring aspects of evolutionary biology. The authors are able to connect the microcosm of microbes to the macrocosm of Gaia hypotheses. Embodiment serves as an endless reservoir of metaphor for Gaian methodology--dance, spiritual practices, living a consciously sustainable life--all involve embodying aspects of the Gaian hypothesis and integrating them into life on earth. True Gaian methodologies reveal themselves in the fruits of embodiment.

Multisensory Embodiment as a Gaian Methodology:

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Roots of Multisensory Embodiment as Method

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The roots of embodiment are found in the composition of the human body. According to Ed Uthman, MD and Diplomate, American Board of Pathology, “oxygen is the most abundant element in the earth’s crust and in the body. The body’s43 kilograms of oxygen is found mostly as a componenet of water, which makes up 70% of total body weight. Oxygen is also an integral componenet of all proteins, nuclei acids (DNA and RNA), carbohydrates, and fats” (Everything2. Com from Emsley, J. (1998) The elements, 3rd ed., Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.

Stem and Leaf of Multisensory Embodiment as Method

Image of Trunk and Branch of Apple Tree

The stem of embodiment is how we grow in relationship to Gaia. Did we grow up with experiences in nature? What kind of theology did we grow up with, one that taught us stewardship, or domination, or balance, and respect? How have we developed side by side with Gaia, sharing elemental composition? The stem of embodiment is the how our relationship with Gaia has been and is presently experienced. The stem is how we have been educated and are educating future generations.

Flowering of the Multisensory Embodiment as Method

Image of Narcissus Flowers

The flower of embodiment is how we manifest our embodiment of Gaia in our lives. Do we live within a sustainable paradigm? Are we living a sustainable life in harmony with fellow humans, other species, and earth? Are we able to dance our stories, inhabit our art, create ceremonies? Are we involved with healing the earth, with ecojustice and social justice? The flowers of embodiment are acts of kindness, healing, and love in action. The flowers of embodiment are the blossoms of healthy lifestyle, healthy food, healthy soil, and healthy governance. The flowers of embodiment are art and science, religion and philosophy, meeting together with respect and coming up with holistic solutions to sustainability issues.

Seeds of Multisensory Embodiment as Method

Image of pepper seeds

The seeds of embodiment are the witnesses. The audience member who walks away breathless and inspired, community members reinstated through ritual, those healed through intuitive deep listening to body wisdom. The seeds of embodiment are the experiences of wholeness and of nonduality that resonate throughout our being and teach us indisputable truth. These seeds grow from generation to generation, taking root once again in our knowledge that we are made of earth and return to earth, and that with this knowledge comes a responsibility of relationship and reciprocity.

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