New energy geographies: a case study of yoga, meditation and healthfulness

Philo, C. , Cadman, L. and Lea, J. (2015) New energy geographies: a case study of yoga, meditation and healthfulness. Journal of Medical Humanities, 36(1), pp. 35-46. (doi: 10.1007/s10912-014-9315-3) (PMID:25503269) (PMCID:PMC4352603)

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Beginning with a routine day in the life of a practitioner of yoga and meditation and emphasising the importance of nurturing, maintaining and preventing the dissipation of diverse ‘energies’, this paper explores the possibilities for geographical health studies which take seriously ‘new energy geographies’. It is explained how this account is derived from in-depth fieldwork tracing how practitioners of yoga and meditation find times and spaces for these practices, often in the face of busy urban lifestyles. Attention is paid to the ‘energy talk’ featuring heavily in how practitioners describe the benefits that they perceive themselves to derive from these practices, and to claims made about ‘energies’ generated during the time-spaces of these practices which seemingly flow, usually with positive effects, into other domains of their lives. The paper then discusses the implications of this energy talk in the context of: (a) critically reviewing conventional approaches to studying ‘energy geographies’; (b) identifying an alertness to the likes of ‘affective energies’ surfacing in recent theoretically-attuned works of human geography (and cognate disciplines); and (c) exploring differing understandings of energy/energies extant in geographical studies of health and in step with the empirical research materials presented about yoga, meditation and healthfulness. While orientated towards explicitly geographical inquiries, the paper is intended as a statement of interest to the wider medical humanities.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Philo, Professor Christopher and Lea, Dr Jennifer
Authors: Philo, C., Cadman, L., and Lea, J.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Geographical and Earth Sciences
Journal Name:Journal of Medical Humanities
Publisher:Springer US
ISSN (Online):1573-3645
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2014 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Medical Humanities 36(1):35-46
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
520761The urban everyday spiritual: placing 'spiritualities of life' in contextChristopher PhiloArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/H009108/1SCHOOL OF GEOGRAPHICAL & EARTH SCIENCES