"Introjecting" imagery: A process model of how minds and bodies are co-enacted
Somatic practices frequently use imagery, typically via verbal instructions, to scaffold sensorimotor organization and experience, a phenomenon we term “introjection”. We argue that introjection is an imagery practice in which sensorimotor and conceptual aspects are co-orchestrated, suggesting the necessity of crosstalk between somatics, phenomenology, psychology, embodied-enactive cognition, and linguistic research on embodied simulation. We presently focus on the scarcely addressed details of the process necessary to enact instructions of a literal or metaphoric nature through the body. Based on vignettes from dance, Feldenkrais, and Taichi practice, we describe introjection as a complex form of processual sense-making, in which context-interpretive, mental, attentional and physical sub-processes recursively braid. Our analysis focuses on how mental and body-related processes progressively align, inform and augment each other. This dialectic requires emphasis on the active body, which implies that uni-directional models (concept ⇒ body) are inadequate and should be replaced by interactionist alternatives (concept ⇔ body). Furthermore, we emphasize that both the source image itself and the body are specifically conceptualized for the context through constructive operations, and both evolve through their interplay. At this level introjection employs representational operations that are embedded in enactive dynamics of a fully situated person.
Publication typeJournal article