research is...listening


Like narrative inquiry (see Hendry, 2007), the act of research/representation with the non-human requires learning how to listen. If the many voices of animate Earth are to be co-creators in the research process, ways of listening, gathering and re-presenting data may differ from methods normally named (or perhaps even used) as part of an inquiry. For instance, if the communicative spirit(s) of Earth is to be part of the meaning-making and representation processes, attending to its (their) many ways of speaking becomes important to developing and using research methods.


Methods include (but are far from limited to) various forms of meditation (e.g. Bai, 2001), dowsing (e.g. Conway, 2001; Graves, 1989), dream knowledge (e.g. Bernard, 2007; Castellano, 2002), dialogic reading, telepathic communication (e.g. Smith, 2004, 2006; Sheldrake, 2003), and shamanic journeying (e.g. Harner & Doore, 1987; Harvey, 2003, 2006a; Walter & Fridman, 2004). They can also include the arts (e.g. Bai, 2003; Lipsett, 2001), singing (e.g. McDade, 2007,, and simple, quiet attention, often in the presence of music.


Ancient ways of knowing can often be accessed through a re-animated perception. They require engaging different forms of consciousness than is normally used in cognitive thought (Behnsen, 2006) and require that one let go of the dominant position of the cognitive mind (Astin, 2004; Bai, 2001, 2009). Those working in the area of transpersonal psychology sometimes refer to some of these ways of knowing as psychospiritual (e.g. Clements, Ettling, Jenett & Shields, 1998).