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Seeking Spirituality Through Physicality in Schools: Learning from ‘Eastern Movement Forms

This paper argues that we might learn from the ways in which Eastern movement forms with a self-cultivation focus approach the development of spirituality through physicality. It also argues that these movement forms have potential to assist in the development of children’s spirituality in school and Physical Education (PE) settings. First, the paper highlights a distinctive orientation to self-cultivation at the heart of which lies a focus on uniting body and mind through regular movement-based practice. Next, differing relationships between these movement forms and spirituality are identified as: fragments of established religious spirituality; spiritual exercise; and secular religious spirituality. Finally, three common pedagogic principles of these movement forms are highlighted and applied to the school and PE context: identifying self-identity and emotions; prioritising direct experience and changing the body-self through practice. It is suggested that these understandings of self-cultivating Eastern movement forms may help sensitise educators to approaching the cultivation of spirituality through physicality in schools using, not only Eastern movement forms but also Western activities delivered in accordance with these principles.