Human Studies

, Volume 38, Issue 3, pp 391–407 | Cite as

A Case Study in the Relationship of Mind to Body: Transforming the Embodied Mind

  • Mike Ball
Empirical Study/Analysis


This paper employs ethnographic research methods to study a Buddhist meditation practice that takes the walking body as its object. The mundane act of walking is transformed into a meditative object for the purpose of refining states of embodied consciousness. This meditation practice offers a glimpse of the relationship of body to mind, a fundamental concern within the philosophy of mind. The analytic focus of this paper is the practical nature of meditation work. Aspects of Buddhist Philosophy are explored and compared to analytic themes within Phenomenology and Ethnomethodology.


Meditation Mind Embodiment Consciousness 


  1. Anderson, L. (2006). Analytic autoethnography. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, 35(4), 373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ball, M. S. (2000). Transforming the mind. A study in meditation practice. Communication & Cognition, 33(1/2), 121–140.Google Scholar
  3. Ball, M. S., & Smith, G. W. H. (2011). Practices of looking, visualisation & embodied action: Ethnomethodology & the visual. In L. Pauwels & E. Margolis (Eds.), A handbook of visual research methods. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  4. Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2013). Successful qualitative research. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Buttny, R., & Isbell, T. (1991). The problem of communicating zen understanding: A microanalysis of teacher-student interviews in a North American Zen Monastery. Human Studies, 14, 287.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Byrne, R., & Whiten, A. (Eds.). (1988). Machiavellian intelligence: Social expertise and the evolution of intellect in monkeys, apes and humans. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Carrier, D. (1984). The energetic paradox of human running and hominid evolution. Current Anthropology, 25(4), 483.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Delamont, S. (2007). Arguments against auto-ethnography. Qualitative Researcher, 4.
  9. Denzin, N. K. (1997). Interpretive ethnography: Ethnographic practices for the 21st century. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Descartes, R. (1641/1986). Meditations on first philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Eglin, T. (1986). Introduction to a hermeneutics of the occult: Alchemy. In H. Garfinkel (Ed.), Ethnomethodological studies of work. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  12. Flood, G. (1999). Beyond phenomenology: Rethinking the study of religion. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  13. Garfinkel, H. (1967). Studies in ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice - Hall.Google Scholar
  14. Garfinkel, H. (1974). The origins of the term ‘ethnomethodology’. In R. Turner (Ed.), Ethnomethodology. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  15. Garfinkel, H. (1996). Ethnomethodology’s program. Social Psychology Quarterly, 59(1), 5–21.Google Scholar
  16. Glenending, S. (2007). In the name of phenomenology. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  17. Goffman, E. (1971). Relations in public: Microstudies of the public order. New York: Harper & Row.Google Scholar
  18. Goodenough, W. (1956). Componential analysis and the study of meaning. Language, 32(2), 195.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Graham, G. (2010). The disordered mind. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  20. Haldane, E. S., & Ross, G. R. T. (1911/1967). The philosophical works of Descartes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Hamilton-Merritt, J. (1986). A meditator’s diary. London: Unwin.Google Scholar
  22. Harvey, P. (1990). An introduction to Buddhism: Teachings, history and practices. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Harvey, P. (Ed.). (2001). Buddhism. London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  24. Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time. London: London University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Hopkins, J. (1984). The Tantric distinction: An introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. London: Wisdom.Google Scholar
  26. Husserl, E. (1960). Cartesian Meditations. The Hague: Nijhoff.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Jaynes, J. (1976). The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bicameral mind. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
  28. Khantipalo, B. (1981). Calm and insight. London: Curzon Press.Google Scholar
  29. King, W. (1980). Theravãda meditation: The Buddhist transformation of yoga. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Lynch, M. (1991). Method: measurement-ordinary and scientific measurement as ethnomethodological phenomena. In G. Button (Ed.), Ethnomethodology and the human sciences. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Megarry, T. (1995). Society in prehistory. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1964). The primacy of perception. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Ryave, A., & Shenkein, J. (1974). Notes on the art of walking. In R. Turner (Ed.), Ethnomethodology. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  34. Schutz, A. (1967). The phenomenology of the social World. Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Schutz, A. (1973). On multiple realities. In M. Natanson (Ed.), Collected papers (Vol. 1). The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.Google Scholar
  36. Shilling, C. (Ed.). (2007). Embodying sociology. Oxford: Wiley.Google Scholar
  37. Smith, J. A., Larkin, M., & Flowers, P. (2009). Interpretative phenomenological analysis. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  38. Sudnow, D. (1978). Ways of the hand. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  39. Thomas, H. (2008). The body and everyday life. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  40. Tuttle, R. (2014). Apes and human evolution. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Art and Creative TechnologiesStaffordshire UniversityStoke-on-TrentUK

Personalised recommendations