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Teaching Philosophy

Volume 39, Issue 2, June 2016

Steven Geisz
Pages 115-135

Body Practice and Meditation as Philosophy
Teaching Qigong, Taijiquan, and Yoga in College Courses

What challenges arise when attempting to incorporate body practice and meditation into undergraduate philosophy courses? In recent years, a number of philosophers have begun teaching such practices in academic classrooms, and at my university I have experimented specifically with teaching qigong, taijiquan (i.e., t’ai chi), hatha yoga, and meditation techniques in a variety of courses on East Asian and Indian philosophy. Teaching body practices and meditations poses potential problems about exclusion and advocacy in the classroom: exclusion, in the sense that the practices might improperly marginalize certain students from full participation, and advocacy, in the sense that including these practices in a class might amount to problematic advocacy of a particular substantive set of religious values. This paper explores ways I have addressed these problems through a variety of pragmatic, situation-specific approaches and by encouraging students to have a sense of ownership about the practices and the learning environment itself.

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