About this Research Topic
Prior to the modern era, somatic and bodymind practices were an integral part of the culture in most areas of the world. Methods evolved to address and meet the needs of local populations for developing resilience in the face of challenge, including practices focusing on physical, mental, and social health, physical skill, artistic expression, and spiritual development. Some remained relatively local and some have spread worldwide, taking different forms and giving rise to many of the contemporary somatic based therapeutic methods. In recent years, evidence has begun to accumulate as to the neurological, endocrine, immune, and psychological impact of these practices, their clinical efficacy, and in some cases their underlying mechanisms. This Research Topic focuses broadly on the category of somatic and bodymind practices that involve movement or awareness of sensation, whether for therapeutic purposes or for self-development. We are interested in studies that apply advances in neuroscience, cognitive science, and consciousness studies, as well as neuroimmunology and neuroendocrinology, to the development of frameworks not based on the Cartesian divide between body and mind, and which address scientifically important questions about the role of somatic and bodymind practices in human health.
The Topic Editors welcome submissions dealing with efficacy and/or mechanism of these forms of practice, including (but not limited to) traditional Asian systems (such as qigong, taijiquan, aikido and some forms of yoga); western somatic methods (such as the Alexander Technique, the Feldenkrais Method and Continuum); body-oriented psychotherapy (such as Somatic Experiencing and Bioenergetics); and bodily techniques and practices associated with indigenous cultures and shamanism (such as the healing dances of the !Kung Bushmen). We also encourage submissions concerning the effects of physical disciplines associated with spiritual formation in major religions, such as Sufi movement practices or Christian labyrinth walking.
We welcome work across a range of methodologies, including reports of clinical trials, theory and hypothesis, and research studies concerning mechanism, as well as proposals for ways of re-conceptualizing these practices in terms that retain the sophistication and complexity of their original transmission but are grounded in a scientific perspective. We are also interested in work reflecting on the problems and limitations of linguistic, cultural, and epistemic translation our project entails, and on the challenges presented to established scientific paradigms by this material. Qualified researchers are also encouraged to submit controlled clinical studies or mechanistic studies that would compare objective outcomes from more than one of these practices within the same study.
Specifically excluded from our Topic are forms of largely cognitive practice that do not involve a primary focus on bodily movement or sensation (such as cognitive psychotherapy and some forms of seated meditation). Also excluded are physical practices without an intrinsic emphasis on changes in consciousness (such as conventional aerobic, strength, or flexibility exercise).
The innovative and unusual nature of this topic necessitates rigorous adherence to the principles of the scientific method. Articles or reviews that present ungrounded speculative opinion or lack an evidence base will not be considered. Hypotheses should be testable, research studies must be rigorously designed using accepted procedures, and the roots of novel hypotheses in past literature in the field must be thoroughly demonstrated. Paradigms may be challenged, but the fundamentals of good science may not.
Keywords: Resilience, Somatic, Bodymind, Stress, Meditative Movement
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.