Chapter 1 A Dove in Flight

Metaphysical Shackles, Transformative Soaring, and Sportive Somaesthetics

In: Somaesthetics and Sport
Jesús Ilundáin-Agurruza
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Gazing upon the somaesthetic horizon, its boundlessness can be either intimidating or exciting, sometimes both – depending on one’s temperament. Now, the charge has sometimes been levied that scholarly sorties have been too limited (narrow) or have missed crucial aspects. In fact, this is due not to willful or inept nescience but to the practical impossibility of fully disclosing all it has to offer. In the spirit of collaborative inquiry, the intent is to venture into unexplored areas of somaesthetic territory to complement, build, and expand upon Shusterman’s pioneering work.

Shusterman has positively opened our eyes to the many gifts somaesthetic appreciation bestows: from food to dance and from lovemaking to Zazen meditation, he has revealed nuanced and beautiful aspects of whatever phenomena he has examined. In sanguine fashion – partaking of his meliorist temperament yet keeping upfront what is apparently negative – the focus presently lies at the intersection of human flourishing and constraint. Here constraint is understood in its older etymological sense of ‘fetter,’ ‘bind together,’ – from the Latin constrictus, to draw tight together. This involves aspects, situations, and factors that, like thorns, discourage appreciative proximity but disclose much worth cherishing when appropriately handled.

Engaging constraint so understood, the chapter explores its role in human flourishing in relation to sports, martial arts, disability, pedagogy, and cognition, as it delves into questions such as: How may sports and martial arts contribute philosophically to our growth? In what ways do pain and risk play a role in the process of flourishing? When may disability and injury be worth embracing? Given the limitations of customary classrooms in the West, how may we fully incorporate somaesthetic pedagogy? What model of psychosomatic harmony seems best suited for somaesthetic flourishing? What seems like a hodgepodge interrelates in surprising ways under the premise of flourishing as a skillful striving after excellence.

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