Tag Archives: Research

Research as yoga

During yoga class last night, our teacher L spent some time speaking with us about yoga philosophy. She brought our awareness to Patanjali, the person who documented his thoughts and knowledge of yoga in The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali, a few thousand years ago. More specifically, our teacher drew our attention to three aspects of Niyama, the inner discipline: (this is in my own and my teacher’s words, obviously the philosophy set out my Patanjali is far more comprehensive)

Tapas – the work we do

Svadhyaya – study of the self

Ishvara-pranidhana – surrendering into what is

As L shared these concepts with us and put them into the context of our class and the postures we had been doing, I drew parallels between each discipline and my research practice: 

Tapasthe busy work of research that is set out in my method. Undertaking fieldwork, transcribing conversations, reading literature, writing, meeting with supervisors, administrative tasks, the list goes on. The ‘work’ in my research is diverse and for most of the time I feel incredibly positive about doing it.

Svadhyayafor the past year I have been using a processes set out in The Artist’s Way called Morning Pages Journaling. Usually when I wake up each morning (or whenever I can fit it in) I journal for 3 pages, regardless of whether I feel I have anything to write about. As I have deepened into this practice I am able to hone more quickly onto the disconcertments I am feeling in my body about issues related to my research, relationships, work and other areas of my life. This study of myself has allowed me to stay in positive relationship with my research and the people that support me in my research. Most of the time this writing is bland and inane, but occasionally I have a stroke of insight and am able to draw connections that allow me to subtly shift my way of being in the world.

Ishvara-pranidhana – I have contemplated what this discipline means for my research practice as it did not resonate with me straight away. I think that surrendering to what is, is about being in the flow of my research – listening deeply to where it wants to go rather than driving it from a head-strong position of always thinking I know. It is also about surrendering into relationships so that I let go of control (or the illusion of control) and can listen from a place of neutrality and be with people-place in a more authentic, present way.

I felt embarrassed and reluctant to write about this idea of research as yoga, because of a self-consciousness of how it might be ‘read’ by others… but it is the metaphor that resonates most with me right now. The practice of research is a discipline, like my practice of yoga. It is a process that I want to honor because I know that it reflects all of me and my being in the world.

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More research on Walmadany (James Price Point)

If you are following the issue of the proposed LNG Processing Plant at Walmadany (James Price Point), here are some links to other research related to the issue:

Deborah Ruiz Wall is researching Who Gets To Develop James Price Point? 

Hansson (2012). When the state says yes but country says no – localising a conflict in a globalised world: A case study of motivation and perceptions of change through participation in the campaign against the Browse LNG Precinct, Australia, Master of Science thesis, Lund University

Muir (2012). ‘Songlines, Bilbies and Facebook: The ‘No Gas On The Kimberley Coast’ Campaign – Community Actions, Personal Stands and Social Media Representations’ A conference paper for the two-day seminar Songlines vs .Pipelines? Mining and Tourism Industries in Remote Australia, University of New South Wales, 28-29 February 2012.

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Autoethnography, theory and analysis

I am reading a methodological novel at the moment, The Ethnographic I, by autoethnographer Carolyn Ellis. Up until now I had not anticipated that working through a particular theoretical framework (perhaps Collectivist Moral Theory or Actor Network Theory) might pose challenges in how I analyse experiences in a partial autoethnographic thesis. As I delve into Ellis’ novel questions are arising… will applying a theoretical framework to autoethnographic storytelling eventuate in a dissected narrative and undermine the analysis already embedded in the stories?

Ellis (2004: 194) puts forward that, ‘There is nothing more theoretical or analytical than a good story,’  suggesting that stories themselves are analytic, because storytellers use analytic techniques to interpret their reality (2004). In particular reference to narrative analysis, Ellis suggests that the analysis is twofold; carried out through the storytelling process and by the readers, who, ‘… provide theoretical validation by comparing their lives to ours, by thinking about how our lives are similar and different and the reasons why,’ (Ellis, 2004: 195).

She also describes a ‘stepping back from the text’ to further theorize a narrative from a specific disciplinary viewpoint, either through the thematic analysis of the story’s content or structural analysis of the story’s form (Ellis, 2004). When I first began designing my research I had felt a tension between ‘doing analysis’ through reflexive writing (taking a step back from my own stories and those shared by others) and needing to apply a secondary form of analysis that would be viewed more credibly by the academy. In these initial stages the theories I was mulling over (CMT and ANT) looked like they might offer an epistemology from which to discuss these stories. Now I feel like there might be a tension between the theories and the practice…

My thoughts are suspended on this topic. I feel as though I need to read more about autoethnography, CMT and ANT, start writing the stories that are emerging out of being with country and see how the mix feels. Maintaining the integrity of mine and others’ stories is critical though and it is this which forms a central preoccupation for me at the this stage in my research.

Underlying this discussion on analysis is the deeper question of how we/I use theory. There is definitely reluctance on my part to use theory to ‘represent, generalize, control, and predict’ (Ellis, 2004: 196).

Ellis, C. (2004). The Ethnographic I, Walnut Creek: AltaMira Press.

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Getting sucked back into the space

I sat and had a yarn with K yesterday about our experiences of being with country on the Lurujarri Dreaming Trail. The thing that stuck me most about our time together was the sense that we were invoking the energy/feeling/space of Trail by talking about it. This reconnection with what is maybe the essence of the experience (for each of us) made me realise that although I may not always be walking country, there is a connection that I can be present to and call forth into being.

K talked a lot about being present on Trail, not just as a destination or something to aim for, but a process and way of being… a pathway to connection perhaps? A few days ago I was going through Otto Scharmer’s book ‘Theory U’ at my bush camp and came back to reading about presencing (as distinct from being present). Scharmer (2009: 163) describes presencing as shifting our place of perception ‘to a future possibility that is seeking to emerge.’ It seems apt to come back to this concept/practice now that I am clearer on the focus of my research – questioning, what kind of place-making is emerging out of the collective action of people walking and protecting the Lurujarri Songline together? Can people sense a future possibility that is seeking to emerge here on the Songline? Is this what we feel on Trail?

On Trail this year R spoke a lot about reading the country. I had fallen into the trap of interpreting this to mean literally seeing what was around me – seeing the signs in the bush and sea to understand the story that was being told/performed by place. Then I asked R how reading the country and le-an related… he said that le-an is reading the country, it is reading the country through feeling. Goolarabooloo and other Indigenous people up here talk a lot about le-an, as did Paddy Roe. Making sense of le-an for myself is another story. Listening to feelings that come when I’m being with country… subtle feelings that can easily be dismissed… sometimes not so subtle. F often speaks about ‘waking up’ to feeling/le-an, that walking the songline can be a big part of that ‘waking up’ and (re-)connecting.

Going back to the other day’s reading though, I read Scharmer’s ideas with a new awareness and started to see a whole lot of connections and associations that I hadn’t previously. Presencing and reading the country through our le-an, could they be the same thing, just expressed differently? 

Scharmer, O. (2009). Theory U: Leading from the future as it emerges. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.: San Francisco


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