Contemplative Social Research
Caring for Self, Being and Lifeworld
by Valerie M. Bentz and Vincenzo M. B. Giorgino
Contemplative Social Research brings together research and insights from scholars throughout Europe and North America, and from a variety of social science disciplines. The book argues that contemplative-based inquiry is unique in recognizing the deep oneness of humanity, since it requires embodied awareness as well as openness to the transpersonal dimensions of the human experience. No single discipline can deal with such vitally important issues as climate change, growing social inequalities, or the social impact of new digital technologies. Consequently, the book argues that only a contemplative vision that pushes the boundaries between disciplines and cultures can extend and broaden the social and human sciences. Part One focuses on conceptualizations of knowing and being. First, Zachary Walsh broadens mindfulness practice beyond various cultural, religious, and disciplinary perspectives. Valerie Bentz addresses the essentially contemplative nature of phenomenological inquiry, which is a way of being, as well as a way of knowing. Doug Porpora’s “critical realism” reclaims the spiritual realm as necessary to ground moral and ethical action. Donald McCown recaps the benefits of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs), structured as nonhierarchical groups of friends. Xavier Renteria-Uriarte views contemplation as the basis for all knowledge systems throughout human history. And Vincenzo Giorgino argues in favor of a balanced point of encounter between contemplative knowledge and social sciences. Part Two presents applications of contemplative research and practice. Krzysztof Konecki maintains that consistent meditative practices enhance the ability of social scientists to see beyond the concepts and categories that may constrain their research. Annabelle Nelson shows that contemplative psychology, along with advancements in knowledge of the brain, allow for a fundamental transformation of the mind. Luann Fortune describes her experience using the somatic and meditative practice of labyrinth-walking as a tool for opening up her interpretation of data about her participants’ experiences. David Casacuberta demonstrates that the current software design for smartphones and computers—now pervasive ways of connecting—developed from a hierarchical and power-based mode of connectivity. And finally, Christopher Mare takes contemplative practice deeper into neuroscience and broader into environmental design.