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submitted by 


In partial fulfillment of the requirements 

for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 

As approved by the dissertation committee: 
Dr. Anne Elezabeth Pluto, Chair, Professor, Humanities Division, Lesley University, 

Cambridge, MA 
Dr. Amy Rutstein-Riley, Assistant Professor, Social Sciences Division, Lesley University, 

Cambridge, MA 
Dr. Carroy U. Ferguson, Acting Dean, College of Public and Community Service, University 

of MA, Boston, MA 


November 2010 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


Student's Name: Jan M. Wall 

Dissertation Title: Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of 
Finding and Following an Intuitive Call 

School: Lesley University, School of Education 

Degree for which Dissertation is submitted: Ph. D. Degree in Educational Studies 


In the judgment of the following signatories, this Dissertation meets the academic standards 
that have been established for the Doctor of Philosophy degree. 

Dissertation Committee Chair 

Dissertation Committee Member 
Dissertation Committee Member 

Director of Ph. D. Program 

Dean, School of Education 











Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


Many people have joined me on this journey to follow a call. Some have created 
disorienting dilemmas, which, I now know, are invaluable to understanding the nature of 
calls. However, most of the people in my life have been supportive and encouraging. On the 
top of that list is my family - Neal, Willow, Jason, and my mom, Nellie - who embraced my 
returning to school (again) knowing it meant fewer resources (time, money, energy) available 
for them. 

There are women who would be surprised to find themselves part of this 
acknowledgment. The principles from the group "No Limits for Women Artists" have been 
challenging my self-limiting beliefs since 1987. Annie, in Colorado, and Priscilla, in 
Vermont, continue to inspire me and keep me honest; as do Betty, Mari, Beth, Cathy, Joan 
(Jewall), Billie Jeanne, and Joanne. 

Thank you Celia, Tracy, Nancy, and Laura - colleagues from my cohort group. It 
would have been a very lonely experience without those dinners and Yankee swaps! 

I offer special appreciation to my committee members. From the first day I walked 
into Anne Pluto's office, talking about intuition and callings, I felt encouraged and 
supported. She trusted me to make decisions, and mistakes. I am grateful for the time and 
energy given my work by Amy Rutstein-Riley, Assistant Professor from Lesley University, 
and Carroy Ferguson, Psychologist and Acting Dean, College of Public and Community 
Service, University of Massachusetts, for providing expert advice. 

Thanks to Gregg Levoy, author of Callings, Finding and Following and Authentic 
Life, whose work inspired me to stay true to my passion, and who became a partner by 
sharing his time and data with me. 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

And finally, I am so very grateful to KT. Through our meetings, travels to North 
Carolina, laughter, deep sadness and incredible joy, KT and I shared this process. I am 
inspired by her connection to family, her curiosity about life, her belief in inner guidance, her 
critical thinking skills, her creative and fun nature, and her strength in moving through 

This work is dedicated Tommy H. 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Table of Contents 

Abstract 7 

Introduction 9 

Transpersonal Psychology and Intuitive Calls 12 

Background 15 

Holistic Education 15 

Your Brain on Intuition 19 

Literature Review 32 

Trends in Higher Education in the United States 34 

Professional versus Liberal Studies 34 

Corporatization of Higher Education 35 

Undergraduate Education and Spirituality 38 

The Undergraduate Quest for Meaning 43 

Contemplative Practice in Education 45 

Spiritually-based Contemplative Curriculum in Higher Education 46 

Creating Consciousness Curriculum within Higher Education 48 

Weaving Contemplative Practice into the Classroom 50 

Methodology 55 

Phenomenological Approach with a Case Study Outcome 56 

Heuristic Research: Origin and Application 59 

Phases of Heuristic Research 70 

Limitations of Heuristic Research 76 

Data 82 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Interviews 82 

Written Data 83 

Wall's Notations from Callings: Finding and Following and Authentic Life 83 

Researcher 1: Wall's Data Analysis 84 

Researcher 2: KT's Data Analysis 92 

Analysis: Explication Phase of Heuristic Researcher 95 

Literature Review Summary 96 

Calls: A Phenomenological Perspective 97 

Developmental Readiness of Undergraduates 98 

Disorienting Dilemmas and Undergraduates 100 

An Undergraduate's Experience: A Case Study 101 

Research Limitations 103 

Creative Synthesis Phase of Heuristic Research 105 

Conclusion 1 06 

Implications for Future Research 110 

Summary 113 

References 115 

Appendixes 126 

Appendix A: Internal Review Board Proposal 127 

Appendix B: Informed Consent Form 129 

Appendix C: Internal Review Board Approval 131 

Appendix D: KT's Creative Synthesis 132 

Appendix E: Wall's Creative Synthesis 134 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


The purpose of this study was to investigate the integration of contemplative practice into 
higher education. The intention of such integration would be to facilitate a students' ability 
to hear and follow an intuitive call. Intuition was defined as an immediate, unmediated or 
tacit way of knowing; calls or callings as inner directives towards meaningful life pursuits. 
Intuition and calls were seen as overlapping and interchangeable terms. (When referring to 
intuitive calls, calls will be italicized throughout.) 

The literature review for this study explored relevant trends in higher education. One 
trend involves academic shifts towards professional readiness, or marketable skills, away 
from personal quests (such as following a call). Paradoxically, another trend suggests that 
undergraduates, across all majors and disciplines, are specifically searching for ways to 
incorporate personal quests into the college experience. 

Heuristic research, a phenomenological approach, was applied to the experience of 
intuitive calls. The study reviewed over 300 emails and letters related to calls; interviews 
with an undergraduate about her experience with contemplative practice and of intuitive 
calls; that student's journals; and finally phone interviews and face to face meetings with 
Gregg Levoy, author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life. In addition to 
the phenomenological study, a case study surfaced during data review. 

The results of the investigation on contemplative practice, intuitive calls, and higher 
education revealed two newly identified variables. The first variable involved students' 
developmental readiness to follow an intuitive call; the second addressed the role of tension 
or a disorienting dilemma in the motivation to follow an intuitive call. 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Also included are discussions regarding ways in which brain activity bridges 
contemplative practice, intuitive calls, and disorienting dilemmas. This study, and 
supporting literature, suggests that contemplative practice (which has been shown to impact 
brain activity), along with developmental readiness and the presence of a disorienting 
dilemma facilitate a student's ability to hear and follow an intuitive call. 

Keywords: Calls, Contemplative Practice, Developmental Readiness, Disorienting Dilemma, 
Heuristic Research, Intuition, Tacit Knowing, Undergraduates 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


I was one hundred miles away from any road or path traveling down the Amazon River in 
Ecuador. As co-leader and one of the faculty members of a study away adventure with twenty 
college students I was seated in the first of several hallowed out trees which served as canoes 
taking us away from our base camp, to our individual family home stays. I would spend the 
night with a family whose community members used to be known as the head-hunters of the 
Amazon. It's the middle of the night, and because I was considered a guest, always an honor 
in this community, the father of the family placed palm leaves on the ground for my bed. The 
air was filled with the sounds of bats flying, dogs chewing on chicken bones, wild pigs 
rustling in the bushes, and a gentle rain shower adding a constant melody to it all. In spite of 
the sounds both inside and outside the hut (inside and outside my head), exhausted from days 
of hiking and exploring, within moments I fell deeply asleep. Suddenly, I awoke to a sharp 
sting on my left foot. The pain was considerable and my left leg went numb. However, in 
that moment from some inner sense or way of knowing I knew everything would be fine. I 
didn't speak Shuar, the native language, but in the morning the father, who happened to be the 
son of a shaman, communicated that the sting was from a scorpion, and I was not in any real 
danger. I trusted my inner guidance, and the wisdom in the face of this man. After spending 
the day gardening and remaining present to the beauty of the jungle, I was taken by canoe 
(navigated by an eight-year-old boy) to the group's base camp where another shaman looked 
at the spot where I was stung. He sucked the poison out of my foot, smiled, and walked into 
the jungle to retrieve a leaf. He chewed the leaf, smiled again, and applied the salve from the 
leaf to my foot. 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

I begin with this story because I experience much of life, including how I learn, 
through the lens of what might be called my intuitive, imaginative, or an inner way of 
knowing. My interest in pursuing a doctorate also relates to the telling of this story. 

In spring 2005, 1 asked undergraduate students in my class, A Holistic Approach to 
Healing, to complete a personal holistic assessment questionnaire. The assessment asks 
students to evaluate their emotional, physical, spiritual, mental, and environmental wellness. 
It also asks how satisfied they feel in their current life situation. Only three out of thirty-three 
students responded that they felt personally connected or grounded in their college experience. 
The other thirty students wanted to talk about feeling unsettled - which we did. 

Then, I told my students the story of my adventure in Ecuador, to capture their interest 
and generate discussion about the possibilities of healing from different cultural perspectives. 
As I told the scorpion story, I opened a passageway for some students to reveal that they 
experience the world, including learning, through ways of knowing that they do not always 
feel able, or encouraged, to discuss. They described ways of knowing similar to what I 
described as the inner guidance I experienced in Ecuador. 

This does not necessarily mean those experiencing such inner ways of knowing are 
more intuitive. However, based on a theory by early twentieth century psychiatrist, Carl Jung, 
those that strongly experience such inner ways of knowing, may experience situations first, 
and primarily, through a noncognitive lens. Such noncognitive lenses include sensing, 
intuiting, or feeling. The class discussion that followed was about the relief students felt in 
being able to acknowledge, and have respected, unique ways of knowing. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

I grew up believing that learning was about memorizing, about how well you could 
use your logical, rational brain, and about how well you could manipulate the system. My 
grades in school were very good, but I was haunted by the fact that I learned most 
productively and with a greater sense of satisfaction when I allowed other parts of myself to 
be engaged in the process of learning. I gave up talking with adults (such as the nuns whose 
classes I sat in for nine years) about it because when I did, I was labeled eccentric, artsy, new 
age - none of which felt very positive. And so at an early age I quickly learned to keep quiet 
and adapt to the system. As a result, I felt alienated from what I perceived as the normal way 
of being and learning. 

When I was an undergraduate this quiet adaptation of my inner voice, gently but 
powerfully surfaced. On a beautiful fall day, as I was standing outside one of the many brick 
buildings at Keene State College, in 1981, 1 was struck by a sense, an inner pull, to major in 
psychology. I went directly to my advisors office. I was excited to have settled on a major 
that felt perfect for me. His response was "What will you do with that?" All the old 
messages reinforcing my unique way of processing and making decisions came flooding 
back. I saw my advisor as more of an authority on my life than my internal authority. I 
declared my major, nutrition, and once again buried my inner voice. 

I received an undergraduate and master's degree in human services and nutrition. I 
entered the workforce. Throughout my first career in healthcare I was met with continued 
resistance to my unique world view, to questions about treating the whole person instead of 
the illness (this was the 1980s and the wellness movement was just starting to emerge). I was 
labeled a "hippie". My contributions were respected as long as I played within the 
conservative western approach to healthcare and didn't challenge those views. At the time, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

the views of many in the western medical establishment included believing that the body is 
separate from the mind, separate from the spirit, and separate from emotions. I could not 
work within that philosophical model. It was at that point that I decided to pursue a second 
graduate degree in transpersonal psychology. 

Transpersonal Psychology and Intuitive Calls 

Many experiences fall under the umbrella term "transpersonal". In general, a transpersonal 
experience might be an event in which there is a connection, or sensation, not bound by 
physical (sensing), cognitive (thinking) or emotional (feeling) experiences. A transpersonal 
experience might be a connection to something greater than, or outside of, the personal self - 
"trans" meaning beyond, and "persona" from Jung, referring to the masks or "persona" we 
wear - in other words, beyond the personal. My initial doctoral areas of interest involved 
two transpersonal experiences - contemplative practices (such as meditation) and intuition. I 
was interested in how these experiences impacted the quality and outcome of learning for 
undergraduates. My hypothesis being that contemplative practices allow us to go beyond the 
senses, to connect to our inner nature, or intuitive way of knowing. This connection may 
then allow greater access and encouragement to follow a path that matters, that path being a 
true passion or calling. 

The terms calls or callings will be italicized to distinguish them from other uses. 
Calls are personal, inner ways of knowing or directives to move in a specific direction in life, 
usually, but not always, associated with a career or vocation. "A call is only a monologue. 
A return call, a response, creates a dialogue. . . and in Latin there is even a correspondence 
between the words for listening and following" (Levoy, 1997, p. 2). I am particularly 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

interested in coupling the phenomenon of a call with the experience of undergraduate life. I 
relied on Callings: Finding and Following and Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy to lead me on 
a callings exploration. Passages from the book are embedded throughout this dissertation. 

My research question addresses whether or not there are ways in which undergraduate 
students have transpersonal experiences such as intuitive ways of knowing. Can these 
students bridge head and heart? Can they bridge intellect and other ways of knowing? If so, 
does the experience involve a calling? Can engaging in contemplative practice help bring 
calls to the surface? Are there ways to help students discuss tacit ways of knowing as 
described by Polyani (1966) as knowing without knowing how we know? The terms tacit 
knowing and intuition are used interchangeably. They share orienting generalizations those 
"broad, general themes [that] emerge, about which there is actually very little disagreement" 
(Wilber, 2007, p. 23-24). The definition of tacit knowing includes the quality of immediate, 
unmediated knowledge or unconscious way of perceiving/knowing used to describe intuition 
(deLaszo, 1990; Birgerstam, 2002; Jung, 1971; Osho, 2001; Polyani, 1966; Schulz, 1998). 

My initial bias was that all undergraduate students had personal calls ready to be 
heard and followed if allowed to surface, and that one way to allow such calls to surface is 
through contemplative practice. This bias shifted the more I explored the data. Other 
assumptions and beliefs about higher education, intuition, and callings that I held prior to 
analyzing data included: that in general higher education lacked a holistic focus; that 
intuition is a natural human emotion or sense; that callings are connected to intuition; that 
contemplative practices can influence access to intuition and therefore calls; and that 
contemplative practices influence brain activity associated with intuition and therefore calls. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

My literature review examines paradoxical trends in higher education - the shift 
towards undergraduate curriculum focused on marketable skills, and the concurrent desire for 
students to explore issues related to spirituality, passion, and callings. In the background 
section I examine the ways in which brain activity is related to contemplative practices and 
intuition. My work is supported by the current findings in brain studies on contemplative 
practice, intuition, and how these may impact callings. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


My research question is grounded in the field of holistic education and the research on ways 
in which contemplative practices and intuition influence brain activity. 

Holistic Education. Holistic education is defined in many ways. It can include a spiritual 
dimension, it can revolve around religious doctrine, it might incorporate contemplative 
practice, art, or other modes of expression into the curriculum, it could focus on self- 
awareness, or it might combine any of these. The following fully captures the definition of 
holistic education: 

Holistic education seeks to develop growth in the intellectual, creative, spiritual, 
social, physical and emotional potentials of the learner. It aims to create an 
understanding of various contexts and perspectives which shape human experience, 
and to promote critical thinking. To achieve this, it emphasizes interconnections, 
integration between theory, practice, and empowerment of the learner, and addresses 
different ways of knowing and discovering the world we live in. {Defining holistic 
education, n.d.) 

Ron Miller (1995) offers an explanation of the value of holistic education: 

Just about every human civilization, with the exception of the Western materialist 
worldview, has recognized that the unfolding of the cosmos, both within and beyond 
direct human experience, is far deeper and more mysterious than is revealed by its 
surface appearances. The emphasis in Western education on intellect is not, as we are 
led to believe, the crowning pinnacle of human wisdom but a cultural prejudice. The 
assertion that other ways of knowing are "anti-intellectual" is an attempt to protect 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

the materialist worldview from the deeper insights that are possible from a more 
spiritual point of view. . . "Intellect", as it has come to be defined and applied in our 
culture, is one-dimensional and limited, oriented to manipulation rather than insight; 
and a social order based upon it often rewards those people who are most ruthless in 
its application, (p. 65) 

Holistic education means examining and moving beyond this "one-dimensional", "limited", 
and "manipulative" learning style in education. This is what I believe students are asking 
for. But many students are distracted from an inner voice, at the same time wanting to 
explore it. 

In asking questions about listening to an inner voice, it is essential to acknowledge 
the increasing numbers of students (and others) being labeled with attention problems or 
disorders. Is this trend due in part to the alarming amount of outside stimulus that we take in? 
In Data Smog the author writes that "In 1971 the average American was targeted by at least 
560 daily advertising messages. Twenty years later, that number had risen six fold, to 300 
messages per day" (Shenk, 1997, p. 30); and it has been estimated that one weekday edition 
of The New York Times contains more information than a person in the seventeenth century 
would have experienced in a lifetime. As Shenk further states: 

When it comes to information, it turns out that one can have too much of a good 
thing. At a certain level of input, the law of diminishing returns takes effect; the glut 
of information no longer adds to our quality of life, but instead begins to cultivate 
stress, confusion, and even ignorance. Information overload threatens our ability to 
educate ourselves, and leaves us vulnerable as consumers and less cohesive as a 
society, (p. 15) 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

An antidote to this level of distraction is needed. Developing a contemplative 
practice might be one remedy. Meditation has been found to lead to physiological coherence. 
Physiological coherence happens when various body systems come into balance leading to a 
reduction in stress and enhanced attention and cognitive ability (Hart, 2004). Physiological 
coherence might also strengthen our connection with intuition, our inner attentive nature. 
Decreasing stress, increasing attention, and engaging one's inner nature might result in more 
meaningful learning along with more satisfying classroom experiences for educators and 
students alike. As discussed in the analysis chapter, however, even if we reduce information 
overload, our inner voice, or inner authority, is often silenced or marginalized by external 
authorities such as family, peers, teachers, or the sociocultural environment. 

Jung theorized that each of us primarily experiences life by thinking, intuiting, 
feeling, or sensing. If this is true, then what happens when pedagogy ignores three-fourths of 
our ways of knowing? Not only is learning stifled, but the resulting anxiety and frustration 
might lead to some of the challenges currently seen in higher education today. These 
challenges include increasing dropout rates, increases in psychological and physical 
problems, and issues related to attention. Although this may not be the primary factor in 
such situations, ignoring diverse ways of knowing might be a contributing factor worth 

As one of the keynote speakers for the Early Childhood Education Conference, 
Framingham, MA, December 2006, 1 was reminded that the time has come for a holistic 
approach to education. The theme of the Conference was "Reaching Hearts and Minds." 
When I asked participants to point to where the mind is located, almost everyone in the room 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

pointed to his or her head. In other cultures, when asked this same question, people usually 
point to their hearts. In other cultures the mind is not associated with the brain, or with the 
body at all, but with the spirit or soul. In the summer of 2006, 1 visited a classroom in Bali 
where every lesson was concerned with integration of body, mind and spirit. In Ecuador, I 
asked questions about health and education, and it did not make sense to the Shuar, the 
villagers we stayed with, to separate the body from the mind from the spirit. It does not 
make sense to me. It might be time to distinguish between knowledge and wisdom, and 
willingly acknowledge that distinction in our teaching. Holistic learning takes place when a 
student is engaging all parts or "functions" or as Carl Rogers (1980) would describe it, is 
"integrated and whole" (p. 1 5). Adrianna Kezar (2005) "challenges the notion of learning as 
falsely representing the process in nonholistic ways" and she writes: 

We need to embrace definitions of learning that embrace the growing diversity of 
people within institutions such as higher education. I believe that using the term 
wisdom, rather than learning, is important since learning has become associated with 
value-free, rational knowledge developed through abstract reasoning. Wisdom 
transcends various cultures and time periods and represents a broader definition. The 
dictionary defines wisdom as judgment, discernment and insight (often a spiritual 
orientation), reason (traditional notion of learning and knowledge), common sense 
(often normative or values driven), understanding (often through empathy and 
relationships), and perception (through experience and observation), (pp. 49-50) 

The Literature Review discusses current trends in higher education, including ways in which 
spirituality and contemplative practices are being integrated into higher education. The link 

Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

between contemplative practices, callings, intuition, brain functioning, and neuroplasticity 
(changes in brain structure and functioning) became more clear to me. 

Your Brain on Intuition 

It's the last day of classes at Lesley College, Spring 2009. In one class, Holistic 
Approaches to Healing, I ask, "What, if anything, has shifted for you this semester after 
learning about various healing modalities and new ways of thinking about your own 
thinking?" One of my students, Eileen , wearing her usual 1970s headband and Cheshire cat 
smile, softly states, "I've learned to check in with myself about what's important to me. I'm 
going to claim my vision and be the writer I know I am." She goes on to say how her parents 
always thought of her sister as the artist, minimizing Eileen's desire to follow what she calls 
her vision. She has declared her major, Creative Writing. 

One purpose of this background information is to introduce intuition as it will be 
applied to, and woven throughout, my heuristic research project. As noted, the larger project 
explores the question of callings. Eileen received a calling, or personal invitation from her 
inner voice when she "learned to check in with" herself. The belief that calls are heard 
through an intuitive process is an essential theory in my work. I'm curious about the broad 
question of how, or if, such guidance is experienced for traditional age college women; if so, 
are there conditions that sharpen or deaden that inner voice. 

My intention here is first to present cultural and historical perceptions of intuition, 
pointing out shared properties throughout diverse ways of knowing. Next, using those 
universal qualities, I will operationalize intuition, providing a context in which to understand 
its meaning in my work. Third, I'll explore the possible role of contemplative practice, such 

1 Name and identifying characteristics have been changed. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

as meditation, in helping access intuitive messages. Finally, I'll provide a basic, broad 
overview of brain activity and changes relevant to contemplative practice and intuition. 

Bridging intuition and contemplative practice might enhance the process of meaning 
making and the ability for college students to hear their personal call. Karen a 21 -year-old 
graduating senior states, "I am most balanced when I have one foot in my inner world and 
one foot in the outer world." She goes on to say that when she is too much in the outer 
world, which she states, for her, means thinking too much, she becomes self-critical and 
unsure. "I start to think I'm not as smart as I am. I've learned that becoming mindful of the 
present moment brings me back into that place of balance." 

What Karen means by "becoming mindful" or Eileen when she speaks of "claiming 
her vision" and how they capture those ways of being, and knowing, will be explored in my 

What is intuition? There are probably as many responses to this question as there 
are individuals. Karen, a student enrolled in my Holistic Approaches to Healing class, 
describes it as "a sense of fluidity with the moment." Following is a discussion of some of 
the classic ways that intuition has been described. 

Carl Jung, a twentieth century psychologist, provided the building blocks of 
humanistic psychology. He presented the first westernized idea of intuition, and he related it 
with what he defined as the other three psychological functions: thinking, sensing, and 
feeling. He wrote: 

(L. intueri, to look at or into). I regard intuition as a basic psychological/w«crio« 

(q.v.). It is the function that mediates perception in an unconscious way. Everything, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

whether outer or inner objects or their relationships, can be the focus of this 
perception. The peculiarity of intuition is that it is neither sense perception, nor 
feeling, nor intellectual inference, although it may also appear in these forms. In 
intuition a content presents itself whole and complete, without our being able to 
explain or discover how this content came into existence. Intuition is a kind of 
instinctive apprehension, no matter of what contents. (Jung, 1971, p. 453) 
Osho (2001) was a spiritual leader and philosopher from India. He became known 
also as Zorba the Buddha because of his controversial ideas (which some say included lavish 
spending and a cult-like sexual lifestyle) coupled with spirituality. The accusations have 
never been confirmed and his inspirational teachings brought many important, thought- 
provoking eastern philosophies and practices to the world. He provides a more mystical 
philosophy for intuition: 

Intellect is involved with the known and the unknown, not with the unknowable. And 
intuition works with the unknowable, with that which cannot be known. It is not just 
a question of time before it will be known - unknowability is its intrinsic quality. 
(Osho, 2001, p. x-xi) 
Raju, another Indian philosopher, whose work focuses on the cultural differences in intuition, 
generalizes intuition as: 

. . . immediate or unmediated knowledge. Etymologically, it means "looking into", 
that is, it is knowledge obtained not by looking outside one's self - whatever the word 
self means, and its meaning may not be discussed for the present - but by looking 
inside one's self. (Raju, 1952, 187) 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Mona Lisa Schultz, a neuropsychiatrist working in the United States, characterizes intuition 
as immediacy of knowledge (nonanalytic, nonrational, a gestalt way of knowing), and 
preverbal. She links intuition with emotion: "Intuitive insights involve emotion. They're 
hard to describe in words, or more accurately, they reveal themselves first as a gestalt, as 
hunches that are difficult to put words to" (Schultz, 1998, p. 10). 

What do these different perspectives on intuition have in common? Their "orienting 
generalizations", are those "broad, general themes [that] emerge, about which there is 
actually very little disagreement" (Wilber, 2007, p. 23-24). They all include the quality of 
immediate, unmediated knowledge or an unconscious way of perceiving/knowing. These 
qualities operationalize intuition as an immediate way of knowing something without being 
able to describe where the information, message, or call came from. When I asked Elaine to 
describe what happens when she "checks in", she states, "If I'm honest with myself I just 
know something is meant to be listened to because it is clear. It feels different in my body. 
It's unmistakable. I can't describe it any other way." Part of the challenge in taking on a 
topic such as this is that it is often difficult to describe with words. Part of the fascination is 
in sorting though the language to describe such moments. Levoy (1997) writes: 

We need to teach ourselves to sit quietly and listen, just listen, long enough to leave a 
decent indentation on the couch. If all our moments are filled with words and 
thoughts, with noise however joyous, then when it comes time to convey our deepest 
intuitions, when live demands guidance from within, we'll be speechless... We're 
after something that lies beneath the noise, something literally unthinkable, something 
that is not so much communication as it is communion - a felt language, a silence 
filled not with emptiness but with presence, (p. 27-28) 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Brain Function and Intuition. According to Geyer (2009), "The brain is the 
functional filter for our inner and outer worlds." The brain coordinates and communicates 
both with our mind and with the world around us using a vast system of neural networks. 
When Karen, the student mentioned earlier, is "thinking too much" she is engaging the left 
hemisphere of the brain (Bain, 2006; Brizendine, 2006; Jossey-Bass reader on the brain and 
learning, 2008; Kail, 2000; Meissner & Pirot, 1983; Nisbett, 2003). What happens in 
Karen's brain when she is being "mindful of the present moment" is less well understood. 
But, researchers using electroencephalographic measures (EEG) and functional magnetic 
resonance imaging (fMRI) see what happens in the brain when we engage in contemplative 
practices such as mindfulness, a type of meditation (Aftanas, 2005; Cahn & Polich, 2006; 
Luders, et al, 2009; Lutz, et al, 2004; Wallace, 2007). They also see brain activity during 
intuitive processing (Volz & von Cramer, 2006). 

The brain is much more complex than could be discussed in detail in this paper; 
however an overview provides the foundation for understanding the brain's potential role in 
the intuitive process. Brain physiology (several hormonal actions) and anatomy (Figure 1) 
relevant to a discussion on intuition include, but are not be limited to the frontal lobe, the 
temporal lobe which houses the amygdala (along with other areas which will not be reviewed 
here), the corpus callosum (surrounded by the cingulated cortex), and the brain stem. 

Brain Structure and Intuition. First, I address specific brain components and the 
unique function of each. Then, I examine the new research that indicates that these areas of 
the brain communicate with each other. They can rewire to take up functions of a weak or 
nonfunctioning part, and can rewire and produce new cells at any age. This is a shift from a 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

theory of brain localizationism and rigidity to one of neuroplasticity for which Doidge (2007) 
provides an in depth research review. Contemplative practices may involve changes in the 
brain which may impact intuition (or inner ways of knowing) and callings. 

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Figure 1 

Left/Right Hemisphere Functions. The brain is divided into halves. Each half, or 
hemisphere, of the brain has distinctly different functions. The left hemisphere processes in a 
more rational manner, concerned with details and words over images. Using whole pictures 
or images, the right hemisphere processes nonrational thoughts and behaviors. Connecting 
the two hemispheres is the corpus callosum. Surrounded by the cingulated cortex, the corpus 
callosum is the largest white matter structure in the brain. Suggested gender differences are 
found within these areas (Bain, 2006; Brizendine, 2006): 

The traditional male brain is 1 percent larger than the traditional female brain but 
has fewer connections between the cells. The traditional female brain may be smaller 
but it has more connections between brain cells. The corpus callosum, which 
connects the two hemispheres, is bigger in women. These basic structural differences 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

may explain some of the differences between men and women in how they see the 
world, what they pay attention to, how they remember events, and how they get in 
touch with their intuition. (Schulz, 2005, p. 21) 

To better understand how a brain differentiates a thought from intuition, imagine your 
brain as a highway with toll booths controlling data and messages received. One major toll 
booth is your frontal lobe; how it functions can make all the difference in contemplative 
practices and intuitive calls may be experienced. 

Frontal Lobe (The Toll Both). The frontal lobe is that part of the brain used when 
judging, evaluating, or analyzing. It is also where self-judgment, guilt, and shame are 
processed. The primary functions of this part of the brain include: goal setting, assessing 
strengths and weaknesses, planning and/or directing activities, initiating and/or inhibiting 
behaviors, monitoring current activities, evaluating results, and processing thoughts. A 
thought first stops at the frontal lobe. It is where you, the driver, ask directions and analyze 
whether or not you're heading in the right direction. An intuitive message doesn't need to 
stop at the toll booth (frontal lobe). Intuition has an Easy-Pass - the ability to by-pass the 
frontal lobe, going directly to its destination (temporal lobe). 

During a workshop at the Cape Cod Institute, Schultz (2007) categorized intuition as 
an emotion due to the way it is processed throughout the body. The frontal lobe can help us 
deal with emotions with the right amount of intensity, keeping us from being too 
overwhelmed, driving us over the edge. People with low functioning frontal lobes are like 
toll booths without operators, and have what Schulz calls "emotional incontinence" and often 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

lack strong filters for thoughts, emotions, or actions. She herself says her frontal lobe is 
hanging on by a thread, which is one explanation for her high degree of intuition. She 
explained, "When we get an intuitive hit we almost always engage our frontal lobe and try to 
make rational sense out of it. Once you commit to your frontal lobe [or get too involved in a 
discussion with the toll booth operator], your left hemisphere kicks in, shuts down the right 
hemisphere and therefore the intuitive process" (Schulz, 2007). Learning to "push aside our 
frontal lobes," as we do unconsciously when dreaming, allows the intuitive message to be 
heard and brought to our full attention. Unlike dreaming, this involves discernment, being 
able to tell the difference between a thought and an intuitive message or call. 

As mentioned, different areas of the brain are activated by a thought versus an 
emotion or intuitive message. Learning to differentiate the two is a skill which can be 
developed or strengthened. A thought, which stops at the frontal lobe/toll booth, interacts 
with the operator (asking questions, judging, etc.). It is experientially different from 
intuition. The frontal lobe can process thoughts about it, but those thoughts are different than 
the message. If you question the reality of that message or over-rationalize it, you are 
ignoring the intuitive message and could needlessly pay a high toll (physically, 
psychologically, and spiritually). 

Temporal Lobe - Limbic System. The temporal lobe has the general function of 
processing emotions. Like the frontal lobe it is divided into right and left hemispheres; each 
side having specific functions. The temporal lobe is the destination for an intuitive message; 
and the amygdala is an important part of the temporal lobe in the intuitive process. This 
importance turned out to be an interesting consideration in the analysis of my data. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Amygdala. The amygdala processes body memories and emotional events, including 
intuition (Volz & von Cramon, 2006). If the emotion or intuitive message is allowed to reach 
its destination unblocked, we can use it to our advantage. If the emotion or intuitive message 
is unresolved, a physiological stress response is initiated, sending hormones (including the 
neurotoxin Cortisol) through the brain stem to various parts of the body. An increase in 
Cortisol can lead to physical illnesses or body symptoms, as well as mental and spiritual 
dilemmas (Aftanas, 2005; Kabat-Zinn, et al, 1992; Viadero, 2004). 

The amygdala is also where we process issues related to trust, such as our ability to 
trust intuitive messages or calls. This includes trusting our ability to bridge that part of us 
that consciously constructs information and makes rational judgments with that part which 
functions more intuitively because: 

. . . rationality without intuition results in linearly well-arranged fragments, whereas 
rationality in the service of intuition contributes to deeper perspicuity. I also consider 
it probable that intuition without rationality can lead to unexpected precipices. 
(Birgerstam, 2002, p. 432) 
This is what my student, Karen, means when she speaks of becoming balanced, allowing 
herself to trust her inner (mindful) self with her outer (thinking) self. 

Hormones and Brain Function. "Hormones can determine what the brain is 
interested in doing" (Brizendine, 2006, p. xvii). Some female hormones play a role in 
activating various areas of the brain including those hormones associated with the intuitive 
process. Lieberman (2000) suggests a correlation between hormones, brain functioning, and 
the intuitive process. This does not imply that male hormones don't also play some role in 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

this process, but my research will focus on college women's experiences of intuition and 

Estrogen levels are highest premenstrually and during menopause. Progesterone, 
which has an antianxiety effect, decreases during perimenopause. Some women experience 
increased anxiety and depression during these times. The right temporal lobe is associated 
with these emotions including intuition which becomes more active when estrogen is high 
(Schultz, 2005, p.31-32). An increase in estrogen and a decrease in progesterone may 
contribute to women's intuition. 

Gut feelings are not just free-floating emotional states but actual physical sensations 
that convey meaning to certain areas in the brain. Some of this increased gut feeling 
may have to do with the number of cells available in a woman's brain to track body 
sensations. After puberty, they increase. The estrogen increase means that girls feel 
gut sensations and physical pain more than boys do. . . . Therefore, the relationship 
between a woman's gut feelings and her intuitive hunches is grounded in biology. 
(Brizendine, 2006, p. 120) 

Denying Intuition 

When an emotion, including intuition, is denied, a series of neurological events is 
generated, cascading from the brain through the brain stem into the rest of the body (Lupien, 
et al, 2009; Schulz, 2007; Stowel, Hedges, Ghambaryan, Key, & Bloch, 2009). Depending 
on what is being silenced, differing symptoms, illnesses, or negative outcomes will result. 
This is not new information when it comes to emotions in general. We know that deep 
shame, repressed anger, unresolved guilt, or other stressful issues not dealt with will end up 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

presenting in the body as ulcers, headaches, backaches, or other physical symptoms. How 
intuition fits into this picture, the ways in which the brain and body process intuition is a 
relatively new field of study. Schulz (2007) states, "just like emotions that don't get 
acknowledged and end up as body symptoms, if you don't pay attention to intuition it will 
come out as body symptoms." 

Strengthening Intuition 

The brain is wired to deal with "such universal human activities as seeing, hearing, 
and walking, which develop with minimal prompting and are shared by all humanity, even 
those rare people who have been raised outside a culture." Doidge (2007) then goes on to 
describe signature activities which "require training and cultural experiences and lead to the 
development of a new, specially wired brain" (p. 291). For example, meditation is a 
signature activity. 

Contemplative practices such as meditation create positive effects in overall well 
being (Aftanas, 2005; Bishop, 2002; Kabat-Zinn et al. 1992; Majumdar, et al. 2002). Cahn & 
Polich (2006) define meditation as "practices that self-regulate the body and mind, thereby 
affecting mental events by engaging in a specific attentional set" (p. 180). These authors also 
state that "measurements of the brain response to meditative practice is based on the premise 
that different conscious states are accompanied by different neurophysiological states and on 
reports that meditation practice induces distinct states and traits on consciousness (Cahn & 
Polich, 2006, p. 181). They go on to discuss the differences between states which may refer 
to a momentary change in awareness, versus traits which have more long-term implications. 
Using electroencephalographic and neuroimaging techniques, these authors present an 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

overview of many meditative techniques including Zen, Transcendental Meditation, yoga, 
and mindfulness. It is not the intention of my project to focus on any one contemplative or 
meditative practice, but to begin to determine how such practices impact brain physiology 
and anatomy as those changes relate to intuitive calls. 

Research into contemplative practice's influence on the brain are well documented 
(Aftanas, 2005; Cahn & Polich, 2006; Davidson, et al, 2003; Kabat-Zinn, 1992; Luders, et 
al, 2009; Lutz et al, 2004; Travis & Arenander, 2006). Neuroplasticity is the process 
whereby brain cells can change and increase neural connectivity. "Mindful awareness is a 
form of experience that seems to promote neural plasticity" (Siegel, 2007, p. 31). 
Neuoplasticity is found to be heightened in long-term meditators, with different brain areas 
influenced depending on the type of meditation (Cahn & Polich, 2002). 

Many contemplative practices appear to impact areas of the brain related to the 
process of intuition (Luders, et al. 2009; Malhi, 2007). Using functional magnetic resonance 
imaging (fMRI) researchers are able to see areas of the brain most active during intuitive 
experiences (Volz & von Cramon, 2006), which are the same areas influenced by some 
contemplative practices. 

Doidge (2007) writes about Jordon Grafman who identified four kinds of 
neuroplasticity: map expansion, sensory reassignment, compensatory masquerade, and mirror 
region takeover. Meditation may lead to map expansion as it is the type of neuroplasticity 
"which occurs largely at the boundaries between brain areas as a result of daily activity" (p. 
276). The three other kinds of neuroplasticity relate to deprivation in normal input (sensory 
reassignment), diversity in the brain ability to do a task (compensatory masquerade), and 
what happens when an area of the brain fails and its counterpart takes over (mirror region 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

takeover). By introducing a signature activity such as a contemplative practice into a 
student's daily activity, an expansion of the part of the brain used to access intuition, 
callings, and meaning-making may be enhanced. 

This chapter focused on and made connections among three topics. The first topic is 
intuition which I've operationalized as an immediate, unmediated way of knowing. The 
second topic is the discussion of the bridge between contemplative practice, intuition and 
callings. And finally, I examined how contemplative practices can lead to neuroplasticity, 
including those brain changes that may be influential to the intuitive process. 

These three topics were further explored as I investigated the question of callings for 
undergraduates. Author Gregg Levoy perfectly explains why this topic matters to me. He 
said to me, "I'm a lone cry in the wilderness - hired by colleges from time to time to let 
students hear about the rest of the story, about the passion in work. Students are asking for 
permission to talk to that place inside." I often hear students, like Karen and Elaine, talk 
about that inner voice or vision. I am interested in that "place inside," what it means, and 
how to bring it to the surface for the young women, like Karen and Elaine, that I have the 
pleasure of teaching. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Literature Review 

The landscape of higher education is constantly shifting. Often these shifts correspond to 
social, political, or sociocultural issues on campuses across the country. This literature 
review examines current, yet paradoxical trends that have been unfolding in higher education 
over the past several decades. These trends will be explored as they relate to my research 
interest; the ways in which students explore questions of personal meaning making or receive 
guidance to discover unique calls during their undergraduate experience. 

The first shift in higher education that will be addressed involves the increase in 
professional studies major over liberal arts majors. Goyette and Mullen (2006) suggest, 
"Training in the liberal arts is believed to strengthen a student's character and to develop 
qualities such as reason, judgment, and a sense of social obligation" (p. 498). The issue 
about this increasing shift towards professional studies is woven into, and sometimes 
complicated by, the larger issue of the corporatization of colleges and universities 
(Aronowitz, 2000), sometimes referred to as the learning-to-earn model of higher education 
(Nash, 1978). The paradoxical trend finds undergraduates increasingly interested in areas 
related to spirituality, meaning-making, and personal growth (Doe, 2005; Holland, 2006; 
Lindholm, 2006/2007; Lindhold, Goldberg & Calderone, 2006; Swartz, 2007; Subbiondo, 
2005). However, the literature indicates that this more personal pursuit is increasingly 
complicated as the approaches and perspectives of what is considered spiritual or meaning- 
making have begun to categorically overlap and expand (Forbes, 2004). 

The trend towards corporatization of higher education is a movement away from 
personal quests or self-reflection, while the other trend, making meaning of the 
undergraduate experience is a trend towards the exploration of personal meaning, quests, and 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

self-reflection. Questions on the direction that higher education will take revolve around the 
question of purpose. What is the purpose of higher education? How will that be decided, and 
by whom? As Holland (2006) writes: 

It is probably not by chance that an increasingly urgent call for contemplative 
practices in health and educational settings is occurring at the same time that these 
settings are being overwhelmed by bureaucratic and policy demands that often drain 
them of their creative, formative, and healing purposes, (p. 1843) 

First I'll review the literature on the shifts within higher education itself: professional 
or practical studies positioning over liberal studies in undergraduate majors; and, the larger 
more ubiquitous take-over by the corporate model in colleges and universities across the 
United States. Then I'll review developmental theories questioning the readiness of college 
students to be making career or vocational choices. I include this review on developmental 
readiness as it comes up often and is an important consideration for traditional students. 
Next, I'll bring in the literature on the increasing trend of college students' interest in 
exploring issues related to spirituality, meaning-making, purpose, or callings during their 
undergraduate experience. How contemplative practices are currently being integrated into 
higher education also will be addressed. Finally, I'll review some of the perceived obstacles 
with the concurrent trends of higher education towards corporatization while students are 
actively pursuing issues related to meaning-making, spirituality, and personal quests. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Trends in Higher Education in the United States 

The review of literature on trends in higher education in the United States revealed two 
significant paths stretching head for higher education. The first path is the shift from liberal 
studies to professional or practical studies. The second path is the trend towards 
corporatization of higher education in the United States. Both are important for discussion; 
each has a different message. Both trends will be addressed in this literature review with an 
emphasis on the more ubiquitous issue of corporatization of higher education. 

Professional versus liberal studies. "One of the most important changes in 
American higher education over the last 30 years has been the gradual shrinking of the old 
arts and sciences core of undergraduate education to the expansion of occupational and 
professional programs" (Brint, Riddle, Turk-Bicakci, & Levy, 2005, p. 151). 
Acknowledging the movement towards increasingly professional over liberal studies in 
higher education in the United States, some authors (Freeland, 2004; Raelin, 2007) offer a 
third option. Instead of boxing the intention or purpose of higher education into either 
professional or liberal studies these authors recommend combining the two by blending 
theory and practice. Freeland (2004) calls for "practice-oriented education" (p. 141). He 
reports that the trend towards training as the focus in higher education "began taking shape 
amid the turbulence of the late 1960s and early 1970s" when "some educators recognized 
that higher education had been permanently democratized and that many students - including 
some of the most talented - had a legitimate interest in preparing themselves for the 
workplace" (p. 141-142). The initial response was to "build bridges between liberal and 
professional education" (Freeland, 2004, p. 142). Raelin (2007) also provides a historical 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

perspective to the current situation, noting what he calls the "most recognized trend in 
college education... [as] the decline in liberal arts" (p. 57) and suggests "reflective practice" 
(p. 61) as an option to the either/or choice of training or learning. 

Often thought of as the public form of reflection that can be characterized as the 
process of inquiry that seeks to uncover and make explicit what one has planned, 
observed, or achieved in practice, such as what might be made available through 
internship-type experiences, (p. 61) 

Corporatization of higher education. Simply moving towards professional studies 
does not in itself mean the university is becoming corporate. As will be reviewed herein, one 
option for undergraduate programs is towards blending professional and liberal studies 
without corporatization of the college or university. However, this does not appear to be the 
direction higher education is moving in. 

In fact, as corporations gained more political power and started handing out larger 
amounts of funding to colleges and universities, the business (or learn-to-earn) model began 
to take over academia. As Cohen notes, there was a "shift of power from faculty to 
administration" with business and corporations beginning to exert pressure in defining the 
direction, or purpose, of colleges and universities (1998, p. 150-164). This trend continued 
throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first (Aronowitz, 2004; Brint, 2002) and 
has had profound effects on the curricula and experience of faculty and students. 

There is a movement in this country away from colleges and universities as learning 
organizations (Bok, 2009) towards training facilities or knowledge factories (Aronowitz, 
2000). This is more than simply a shift from liberal arts to professional studies. This is a 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

change from learning for pursuit of knowledge to learning as training to match the needs of 
the job market (the learn-to-earn model). 

In his review of four prominent books on the topic of the learn-to earn model in 
higher education, Walter (2001) acknowledges that his primary interest is in adult education 
but the trends he finds cross boundaries between traditional and non-traditional college 
experiences. Three of the four books "address different aspects of the wider corporate 
restructuring of the academic world to which the field of adult education belongs" (p. 71). 
The fourth book, The Corrosion of Character by Richard Sennet, explores the negative 
impact that moving the corporate model onto academia has had on faculty (p. 75). The other 
three books include Aronowitz's Knowledge Factory, Turk's The Corporate Campus, and 
Academic Capitalism by Slaughter & Leslie. These three titles share an agreement that 
higher education has turned corporate. Each uses a slightly different lens to view this trend 
but come to similar conclusions. Aronowitz focuses on how "universities have now shifted 
to preparing students for the job market and research 'products' for sale in the knowledge 
economy" (Walter, 2001, p. 72). Turk's primary interest is in the ways in which online and 
commercialized distance learning have negatively impacted student and faculty satisfaction 
on many levels (Walter, 2001, p. 73). And finally, Slaughter & Leslie "begin their work by 
implicitly accepting the new corporate rules of the game and search mainly to understand 
who wins and loses and why" (Walter, 2001, p. 73). 

Historical perspectives leading to the restructuring of higher education can easily be 
found (Andrews, 2006; Bnnt, Riddle, Turk-Bicakci, & Levy, 2005; Walters, 2001). Factors 
cited include shifts in enrollment, tuition increases and decreased funding (forcing students to 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

focus more on earning to pay back loans), funding shifts from grants to loans, less autonomy 
for faculty, more adjuncts filling larger classrooms, more funding going to research and 
sciences, and academia looking more and more like corporate workplaces with business 
leaders stepping into the boards of colleges and universities. These factors relate to shifts in 
the economy, globalization, and increased technology woven into the texture of higher 
education. Andrews (2005) suggests one option to help reverse the corporatization of higher 
education is for faculty to take an active role in bringing the issue to the national level. 
Examples of how to take an active role is to bring the discourse on the learn-to-earn model in 
higher education to local and national conferences, and/or advance research on the long term 
outcome for students and faculty on the corporatization of colleges and universities. 

Again, the question is not whether or not higher education is moving towards a 
corporate learn-to-earn model, but how and with what outcomes. How will this trend impact 
already marginalized groups? This missing piece to a developing puzzle highlights ways in 
which "gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disabilities are almost no where to 
be found... [That if] the commercialization of higher education will soon come to pass then 
we can safely predict that marginalization of women and minorities in academia will 
intensify" (Walter, 2001, p. 76). 

In exploring whether or not "social background predicts college destination" Goyette 
& Mallen (2006, p. 498) acknowledged the choice that curriculum and majors have on 
students, but were interested in how students made those choices. Is learning-to-earn a factor 
in making such choices? These authors "have grounds to suspect a positive relationship 
between social background and selection of arts and sciences fields" (Goyette & Mallen, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

2006, p. 503). This may further address what Walter (2001) calls into question about 
widening the gap between specific groups and fields of study as the shift towards training 

Undergraduate education and spirituality. Addressing a discourse on the 
corporatization of higher education and the place spirituality, or pursuing a personal quest, 
might have for undergraduates are the following findings as cited by Brint, Riddle, Turk- 
Bicakci, & Levy (2005): 

. . . findings of sharp declines in self-reported gains among American college students 
in the 1 990s as compared to college students in the late 1 960s in awareness of 
different philosophies and cultures; in understanding and appreciation of science, 
literature and the arts; and in personal development when compared to American 
college students from the late 1960s (Kuh, 1999). (p. 152) 

Bok (2006) noting that many students enter college without a clear career sense states 
that these same students change majors several times as undergraduates (p. 286). There 
seems to be some agreement that traditional age undergraduates are at a point in their lives 
when some uncertainty about future careers goals is mixed with a desire to pursue a career 
that matters to them. The definitive study indicating the desire for undergraduates to more 
actively pursue meaning, purpose, or spirituality is the work undertaken at the University of 
California's HERI, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. Their 2004 
findings are most significant to this literature review. The preface to the study, The Spiritual 
Life of College Students: A National Study of College Students ' Search for Meaning and 


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Purpose, reports that they surveyed "1 12,232 entering first-year students attending 236 
diverse colleges across the country" (Higher Education Research Institute, 2004). Others 
(Becker, 2009; McFarland, 2006; Subbiondo, 2005) find similar results to the HERI study: 
Four in five indicate "having an interest in spirituality" and "believing in the 
sacredness of life," and nearly two-thirds say that "my spirituality is a source of joy." 
Many are also actively engaged in a spiritual quest, with nearly half reporting that 
they consider it "essential" or "very important" to seek opportunities to help them 
grow spiritually. Moreover, three-fourths of the students say that they are "searching 
for meaning/purpose in life," and similar numbers report that they have discussions 
about "the meaning of life with friends." (p. 4) 
This quest for meaning or spirituality does not appear to be limited to specific types of 
schools or majors. For example, Lindholm, Goldberg & Calderone (2006) focused on law 
aspirants and how they "negotiate issues of meaning and purpose through spiritual 
questioning" (p. 510) successfully outlining the confusion and "elusive task for scholars" (p. 
51 1) of defining spirituality. They compare this group with students across all majors. 
"Ultimately, it is the resolution of internal insights coupled with one's subjectivity in the 
world that represents the core feature of spiritual quest" (p. 513). 

Although students across all majors seem interested in such quests, Lindolm, 
Goldberg & Calderone (2006) found: 

Women in the professional career aspirant group appeared to be more inclined toward 
spiritual questing than men. This is consistent with our expectations and findings 
from Astin, Astin, Lindholm, and Bryant's 2005 research on a broader sample of 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

respondents to the 2004 CIRP/CSBV Freshman Survey that included students who 
aspired to pursue a wide range of careers, (p. 521) 

Bryant (2006) raised the question about terminology used in various studies 
suggesting confusion develops when surveying topics such as spirituality and religion. In 
spite of some terminology differences, her findings match those of the HERI study (2004) in 
finding a desire for undergraduates to explore issues related to spirituality, meaning-making, 
and individual purpose. 

The challenge in reviewing the literature about purpose and meaning-making in the 
undergraduate experience is to navigate the confusing network of terms and concepts 
involved. However the concepts have common threads. Some of the terms used to discuss 
this purpose and meaning-making in the literature include holistic (Forbes & Martin, 2004; 
Miller, 1995), spiritual (Becker, 2009; Lindholdm, Goldberg, & Calderone, 2006; 
Subbiondo, 2005), religious (Becker, 2009; McFarland, 2006), contemplative practices 
(Deckro, et al, 2006; Holland, 2006; Zajonc, 2003), individuation (Dirkx, 2006), or meaning- 
making (Ignelzi, 2000; Schwartz, 2007). 

Developmental theories of Jack Mezirow (2000), William Perry (1999), and Robert 
Kegan (1980) consistently came up in the literature on meaning-making for undergraduates. 
Ignelzi (2000) referring to all three theorists states that "meaning-making, the process of how 
individuals make sense of knowledge, experience, and the self, must be considered in 
designing college curricula environments supportive of leaning and development" (p. 5). He 
refers to Perry's claim that what we do as humans is to organize meaning. He also describes 
what he calls "orders of consciousness" as a system of meaning-making. He claims that 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

theorists on development agree that there is a disconnect between the development stage of 
most college students and their ability to pursue meaning. He suggests "a central goal of 
higher education should be the achievement of self-authorship" (p. 13) which would enable 
students to develop the capacity to make meaning during college. A form of self-authorship 
comes from a student's ability to reflect. Grossman (2008) refers to Kegan's Object-Subject 
Theory and ways in which inspiring reflection can build on the idea of meaning-making. 
Grossman's article clarifies types of reflection and the impact on development and meaning- 
making. Four types of reflection are noted: content-based reflection, metacognitive 
reflection, self-authorship reflection, and transformative/intensive reflection. Content-based 
reflection involves blending theory and practice (for example internships). Metacognitive 
reflection requires students reflect on their own thinking, while self-authorship reflection and 
transformative/intensive reflection require the student distances themselves from their 
situation or thoughts and reflects critically. The latter two types of reflection heighten the 
student's self-authorship and meaning-making potential. 

Schwartz (2007) blends meaning-making with the quest for spirituality stating, 
"Meaning-making provides ways of giving expression to the things we know intuitively" (p. 
4). She relates this intuitive knowing to a spiritual experience. She discusses trends that 
may, in her opinion, negatively influence meaning-making such as technology, economic 
uncertainties, and consumer exploitation with increased debt. She also notes that these 
young adults are "living in an increasingly religiously variegated world. The young adult 
population is seeking a spiritual home and sense of belonging in a world that now offers a 
smorgasbord of choices" (p. 7). In Schwartz' interview with Sharon Daloz Parks, a college 


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administrator, chaplain, and instructor, the call to mentor students through such choices is 

Several terms come up in the literature referring to Robert Kegan's theories. 
Grabinski (2005) uses Kegan's term "holding environments" to define the undergraduate 
experience as a time when students can be supported during developmental changes. He then 
goes on to stretch the term to include the importance of supporting environments throughout 
the lifespan to include the social, psychological, and physical nature of the environment. 
These holding environments have three main functions: holding, letting go, and maintaining 
(p. 81-82). Holding refers to the ability to work with a student during the sometimes 
frustration and anxiety of developmental shifts; letting go is allowing the learner to move 
beyond their limited perceptions; and, maintaining refers to the community that provides a 
stable environment throughout developmental shifts. Colleges and universities can, and 
should, be such holding environments. 

The ways to frame what is being sought in such holding environments is still in 
question. Forbes (2004) analyzed the literature of K-13 programs that claim to be holistic. 
Of the 72 schools that met that claim, he found that they self-identified in one of two ways. 
First there are schools that focus on self-actualization, with either a spiritual or religious 
theme, where self-actualization or aiming for fully-functioning persons is the goal. The 
second category of schools aligns with issues related to social justice and freedom. Forbes 
(2004) found the following: common phrases such as experiential learning and community 
were used in a variety of ways; purpose of education were expressed in similar ways; there 
seemed to be a set of core values from school to school; and, all fell within a spectrum of 
what the authors felt were holistic qualities. Although this analysis only included grades K 


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through 13, it is a good place to look at the landscape as it begins to expand into higher 

The undergraduate quest for meaning. This section is a review of the current 
practices of holistic higher education including colleges and universities which have 
instituted secular spiritual or contemplative practices into their students' experiences. Zajonc 
(2003) writes: 

Today we find ourselves at the onset of a "controversy" concerning the place of 
spirituality in our now mature secular college and university system that is similar to 
that of the thirteenth century. I feel the implications of the current interest in 
spirituality in higher education may prove to be of comparable significance for the 
future of liberal education, (p. 51) 
He goes on to state: 

One of the most interesting initiatives has been the Academic Program of the Center 
for Contemplative Mind in Society. Over the last six years they have worked closely 
with the American Council on Learned Societies (ACLS) to grant 100 "contemplative 
fellowships" to full-time faculty to support the development of courses at over eighty 
institutions ranging from poetry and contemplation at West Point, to contemplating 
the cosmos at UC Santa Cruz, and contemplative practice and health at the University 
of Arkansas, (p. 53) 

Three pedagogical models for holistic education revealed through the literature 
review include: 1) the development of specific courses on contemplative practices or 


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exploration of purpose, 2) the integration of approaches to strengthen individual meaning- 
making or spirituality, and 3) the development of extracurricular activities, such as 
meditation groups, supporting wholistic education. 

Where contemplative practices have been made their way onto undergraduate 
campuses, the reported results have been positive. Contemplative practice is broadly defined 

... a third way of knowing that complements the rational and the sensory. The 
contemplative mind is open and activated through a wide range of approaches - from 
pondering to poetry to meditation - that are designed to quiet and shift the habitual 
chatter of the mind to cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and 
insight. (Hart, 2004, p. 28) 
Meditation, prayer, or religious language can be found in definitions of contemplative 
practice. Contemplation comes from the Latin root templum (from the Greek temnein: to cut 
or divide), to separate something from its environment or usual state. There are many 
definitions of contemplation ranging from the mundane to the mystical or religious. I 
suggest that activities other than meditation or prayer need to be included in this definition, 
such as art making, dancing, or simply being in nature. 

The positive impact of contemplative practice, such as meditation, on relieving stress 
is well documented (Aftanas, 2005; Davidson et al., 2003; Kabat-Zinn et al, 1992). 
Contemplative practice directly impacts the brain and therefore learning and development at 
every stage of life including that which takes place for undergraduate students. 

The human brain is divided into two distinct hemispheres. The left hemisphere 
processes logic and details - where western higher education primarily teaches to and from. 


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The right side processes abstract concepts - creativity, emotions, and intuition function 
(Schulz, 1998; Volz & Cramon, 2006). Contemplative practice impacts two areas of the 
brain most significantly: the prefrontal lobe, where attention is facilitated, and the right 
hemisphere where creativity, emotions, and intuition are processed (Aftanas, 2005; Davidson 
et al, 2003; Deckro et al, 2002; Douglas, 2006; Sarath, 2006). 

Contemplative practice in education. Contemplative practice is usually framed 
around concepts such as religion, spirituality, or meditation. Spirituality and holistic are 
terms used inconsistently throughout the literature on holistic education. One conference 
paper presents an attempt to find "kinds of holistic schools by identifying individual schools 
within (an) original matrix and looking for differences between those schools" (Forbes, 
2004). They found two general categories of schools referring to themselves as holistic: the 
first focusing on social development, the second on self-knowledge. This second category 
can further be divided into faith-based or religion-based (which might be referred to as 
spiritual) and those without attachment to god, faith, or religion (but is still referred to as 
spiritual by some). My interest is with the latter - schools that focus on self-knowledge. 

I prefer the word wholistic or whole-person instead of holistic to make it clear that I 
am not referring to a holy, spiritual or religious experience in the usual sense. The terms 
wholistic and whole-person education are meant to be all inclusive, no matter the spiritual or 
religious perspective. However to minimize confusion, provide consistency, and honor the 
integrity of other's work I will use holistic to mean the secular spiritual interpretation. 

Several movements towards holistic pedagogy include: studying the effects of stress 
reduction in college students (Deckro et al, 2002), exploring learning enhancement through 


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multiple intelligences (Ozdemire, Gaiineysu, & Tekkaya, 2006), applying transformational 
learning through expressive ways of knowing (Davis-Manigualte, 2006), addressing 
consciousness and the future of higher education (Sarath, 2006), and the immersion of 
Transcendental Meditation within higher education (Orme- Johnson, Alexander, & Hawkins, 
2005; Travis & Alerander, 2006). 

Three broad categories of holistic education in the United States can be defined: 1) 
those based on a specific spiritual or contemplative practice, referred to as spiritually-based 
and have built into the curriculum a specific doctrine or philosophy, such as with 
Transcendental Meditation (Travis & Arenander, 2006); 2) those using contemplative 
practice as a tool to decrease stress and/or enhance learning, such as with Mindfulness 
meditation (Davison et al, 2003); and, 3) those weaving contemplative practices throughout 
all coursework to create whole-person learning (Palmer, 2004). Following are specific 
examples of each category of holistic education, how each works within the context of higher 
education, and in what ways each of these expands and/or challenges conventional western 

Spiritually-based contemplative curriculum in higher education. Higher 
education coupled with religious studies is not a new phenomenon. In fact, American 
universities were originally headed by Protestant ministers and continued well into the 
nineteenth century (Miller, 1995). Religious studies and spirituality might be viewed as two 
realities: one primarily focused on a specific doctrine or truth, the other interested in purpose 
or meaning-making, which sometimes, but not always, overlap. Both realities are the topic 


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of much discussion in the field of higher education today with the terms religious and 
spiritual are often used interchangeably. 

Subbiondo, in his article on spirituality in education, cites the work of Alexander and 
Helen Astin who suggest that: 

A movement is emerging in higher education in which academics find themselves 
actively searching for meaning and trying to discover ways to make their lives and 
their institutions more whole. This quest reflects a growing concern with recovering 
spirituality in American society more generally. (Subbiondo, 2005, p. 19) 
This includes orientations considered more religious or western (Doe, 2005) but also more 
eastern traditions such as Transcendental Meditation. 

Transcendental Meditation (TM) was introduced in the late 1950s by Maharishi 
Mahesh Yogi. It "involves turning the attention away from outer phenomena and 
physiological processes toward more silent states of the mind, which serve as the 
backdrop for mental activity" (Travis & Arenander, 2006, p. 1523). As with other types of 
contemplative practices, TM has been found to have positive physiological and psychological 
effects on those who practice it regularly. Foundational to this type of holistic education is 
the specific contemplative practice and a spiritual doctrine that is build into the university 
itself. At the Maharishi University of Management all students are encouraged to develop 
this one style of contemplation. This is not to imply that it is better or worse as a way of 
integrating contemplative practice into higher education, it simply represents a model for 
doing so. As a model for educating students in the world of business it certainly challenges 
the analytical environment of most western businesses, because learning to manage stress 


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enhances one's ability to more successfully navigate the corporate world (Orme- Johnson, 

Creating consciousness curriculum within higher education. Within this category 
are studies that introduce courses in meditation as a separate component within a college or 
university setting. Sarath (2006) describes integrating third person education (conventional 
western approach) with first-person or "creativity and consciousness studies" using 
meditation as a way to access consciousness and create a more meaningful experience for 
students. He stresses the importance of exploring consciousness and learning: 

I would argue that the study of consciousness is a foundational educational topic 
whose study, particularly from an integral perspective, can bring profound meaning to 
the educational enterprise, and that its contentious nature can be harnessed as a rich 
connection to a wide range of educational terrain. . . heightened self-awareness poses 
extraordinary educational ramifications, for it not only suggests enhanced capacities 
for introspection but also external creative activity and achievement, (p. 1 822) 
Sarath goes on to suggest that a way to integrate meditation practice into education: 

. . . would be for the institute to assume the role of meditation center. In other words, 
meditation would be taught by faculty with corresponding expertise, and coursework 
dealing with tradition-specific theoretical knowledge about consciousness and its 
development would also be offered, (p. 1831) 

Understanding that this approach may not work in all situations, specifically citing 
public colleges and universities in this category, or be appropriate from a sociocultural 
perspective for all students/faculty, Sarath outlines solutions for providing information, 


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community resources, and organizations for students to access. At the University of 
Michigan, where Sarath teaches, he has designed a successful program consisting of courses 
in creativity and consciousness, along with contemplative practice. He notes that: 

Even though the focus of meditation may appear to be a temporary retreat from daily 
activities, which is sometimes misunderstood as an escape from life, the underlying 
purpose of meditation is for one to be able to engage in life with more passion, 
creativity, and dynamism, (p. 1828) 
Sarath uses student testimonials to show the impact of meditation on their lives. These 
include "feel as though a weight has been lifted off my shoulders," "happier," "more calm 
and my mind is more clear to make better decisions," "has enriched my experience," and able 
to "absorb more of their content and meaning" (Sarath, 2006, p. 1828). 

Holland (2006) also studied the impact of introducing an experimental course in 
mindfulness at two distinctly different higher education settings (a metropolitan university in 
Little Rock, Arkansas, and a school for applied sciences in Bad Gleichenberg, Austria). 
Students were given specific readings about this form of contemplative practice, kept 
personal journals of their meditation experiences, and were encouraged to discuss the 
materials and their personal experiences in the classroom. The specific purpose of the course 
was to promote the practice. Holland emphasizes that some teachers have difficulty in two 
ways: giving up the role of expert which is essential when integrating contemplative practice 
into the classroom, and the paradox of asking students to do nothing in an educational 
environment that stresses the importance of doing. He found that "The course at the 
University of Arkansas at Little Rock has resulted in growing demand for contemplative 
educational experiences on campus" which has resulted in his creating a Mindfulness-Based 


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Campus-Community Health Program. He does not relate the outcome of the Austria project 
except to say that it provided an opportunity which didn't exist for those students before. He 
concludes by acknowledging some resistance to including such contemplative practices in 
higher education, and encourages educators to "address such resistance by developing 
meaningful and valid assessment approaches for contemplative curriculum in order to 
confirm its relevance and its place in the academy" (Holland, 2006, p. 1859). 

Weaving contemplative practice into the classroom. Tobin Hart (2004) proposes 
using the classroom as an opportunity to reach the contemplative mind. He suggests 
focusing on how we know because that is as important as what we know. He references 
studies which demonstrate how contemplative practice impacts physiology (physiological 
coherence, ability to focus, stress reduction, etc.) and suggests various ways to weave 
contemplation into every classroom including: 

• Not Doing: Starting each class with a brief relaxation exercise to help reduce stress. 

• Mindfulness Meditation: Getting students to focus on present moment awareness; 
bringing them more fully into the classroom. 

• Deep Listening: Read a meaningful passage and ask students to share what the 
experience was like. This helps students relate course materials to their own lives. 

• Pondering: Pose and invite questions that encourage students to look deep within 
themselves, again bridging the gap between the course materials and the student's 
real life experiences. 

• A Wisdom Walk: Using guided imagery to help bring students access inner knowing. 

• Body Focusing: Clearing a space for students to more fully engage in the moment. 


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• Concentrated Language: Using poetry to open the contemplative mind and bridge the 
inner and outer experience. 

• Freely Writing: Writing without judgment or concern helps to bring to the surface 
what needs to be addressed before a student can be fully present for learning in the 

The benefits coupled with each activity are not exclusive to one practice. Most of these 
activities will lead students to experience universal consequences of contemplative practices: 
stress reduction, becoming more present to the moment, connecting inner and outer realities, 
and enhanced learning. As Hart (2004) states, "Long dormant in education, the natural 
capacity for contemplation balances and enriches the analytic. It has the potential to enhance 
performance, character, and depth of the student's experience" (p. 38). 

Reviewing some of the trends towards integration of contemplative practices in 
higher education brings up a couple of fundamental question: What is the purpose of higher 
education, and whose interests are being served in our current educational environment? 
Since the United States is a diverse community of individuals, ethnic heritages, 
economic interests, and religious and ideological positions - many of which are often 
in conflict - how is it actually decided which facts and skills, which beliefs and 
values, are the essential ones to be perpetuated through schooling? Who makes these 
decisions, and why? Whose interests are served, and whose are not? (Miller, 1995, 
p. 2) 

The fundamental mission of higher education should be to play a leading role, 
perhaps the leading role, in the development of general culture. This mission falls on 


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colleges and universities because, for historical reasons, they have been endowed 
with the intellectual and physical resources to occupy the space. . . . As I have already 
suggested, this implies that colleges and universities must become public spheres, 
available to the larger community as well as to the community of scholars. They must 
be centers of learning, but also sites of discovery, not only in the natural sciences but 
also in the social sciences and the humanities. (Aronowitz, 2000, p. 172-173) 

In his article on meditation, consciousness, and the future of higher education, Sarath 
(2006, p. 1838) raises similar questions including: 

• What does it mean to be educated in today's world? 

• What is the role of the modern university in preparing students to not only enter the 
workforce but also to thrive within and contribute to a world increasingly 
characterized by change, unpredictability, and a complex network of environmental 
and social challenges? 

• What is the place of inner fulfillment, spirituality, self-knowledge, and emotional and 
interpersonal development in the educational process? 

These questions, and those surrounding larger cultural issues, are essential if a paradigm of 
holistic education is to be realized. Are we striving to develop a stronger work force, 
individual development, or both? I believe the focus on research and job training is rooted in 
fear and tends to separate us as individuals; while the focus on creating a universal human 
force is motivated by a desire to acknowledge our universal connection. Holistic education 
would acknowledge the common problems we share (global warming, poverty, human rights 
issues, etc.), provide learning environments that embrace the whole person and different 


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ways of knowing, and encourage integration of contemplative practices (meditation, art, 
dance, connecting to nature) into higher education, where many of the next generation of 
world caretakers are searching for answers and direction. The answer to these questions and 
concerns are best summarized below: 

Throughout the ages sages have warned us that we can't see what is true even when it 
is presented to us because that which is true isn't what we expect or want to hear. 
The traditional western symbol for this is choosing Barabbas; choosing what is 
familiar or most like us over what is true or sacred. This is as true in educational 
matters as it is in religious ones. Modern education is so obviously failing to solve 
the world's problems, is so rightly criticized for not meeting societies' aspirations, 
and is so clearly unable to prepare people for the fundamental challenges of living. 
To solve these problems, we seem to need educational insights that marry the most 
profound learning possible with the everyday; the subtle with the mundane. . . . 
(Forbes, 1997, p. 1) 

There are many discussions about meditation, religion, spirituality, and a quest for 
meaning that all share the common goal of creating a pedagogy of wholeness. Colleges and 
universities are meant to provide environments where the biggest questions can be asked and 
explored. If we are heading towards knowledge factories as Aronowitz (2000) suggests, then 
more than ever educators must find ways to engage in holistic approaches which include the 
integration of contemplative practices in the broadest sense of the concept; or, as Tobin Hart 
suggests to design approaches "designed to quiet and shift the habitual chatter of the mind to 
cultivate a capacity for deepened awareness, concentration, and insight" (Hart, 2004, p. 27). 


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However higher education appears to be moving in the other direction. As such, 
Askeland and Payne (2006) coined the term edutainment, "because education has become a 
market product, it is expected to produce events and happenings as if it were 
entertainment. .. Edutainment does not promote reflection and contemplation" (p. 171). 


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I chose heuristic research, a phenomenological methodology, to explore the phenomenon of 
calls. Heuristic research invites the researcher to focus on a theme or subject that resurfaces 
throughout her life. For me, that theme was finding what deeply matters in life, a calling. 
"Callings keep surfacing until we deal with them" (Levoy, 1997, p. 9). 

Heuristic research doesn't only suggest deep self-exploration on the part of the 
researcher, it requires it. "Locate our research question within ourselves" was the advice 
given Etherington, who stated it felt like an "exhilarating and terrifying experience" (2004, p. 
19). The concept of deep personal reflection both thrilled and concerned me. I was thrilled 
to be immersed in a phenomenon which has captured my attention much of my adult life; but 
I was concerned because it is deeply personal. My resistance revolves around questions of 
validity. As Levoy (1997) writes: 

Remember, though, that resistance is also a good omen. It means you're close to 
something important, something vital for your soul's work here, something worthy of 
you. "If it feels safe, it's probably not the right path," Mark Gerzon says in Coming 
into Our Own, "but if it scares you it probably is." (p. 197) 

I was attentive to questions of validity raised by such personal research, so I have set 
high standards in terms of process, bracketing, boundaries, data collection and analysis. 
Although a call is personal, I believe there is a collective interest with honoring a call. Berg 
(2007) supports the idea of some phenomenon being collective since "logic behind this has to 
do with the fact that few human behaviors [including our response to or denial of calls} are 
unique, idiosyncratic, and spontaneous" (p. 296). There may be billions of humans, but we 


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share core experiences as evidenced through common stories and myths. Levoy (1997) 


. . . Willa Cather remarks that "there are only two or three human stories, and they go 
on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before." She 
doesn't say what those two or three stories are, but nearly twenty years into my career 
as a journalist writing about human stories, and after a lifetime of living my own, I 
began wondering what stories, deep down, she was referring to - love alienation, 
death and rebirth? (p. 137) 

Phenomenological Approach with a Case Study Outcome 

My initial intention was to apply heuristic research to my project, which I did, but while 
analyzing the data, a case study emerged. The case study explores one student, KT, and her 
experience with the phenomenon of calls as an undergraduate. Berg (2007) states that a case 
study can focus "on a single phenomenon. . . to uncover the manifest interaction of significant 
factors characteristic of the phenomenon. . . " (p. 284). He also writes that unlike 
phenomenological methodology which "attempts to uncover or capture the telos (essence) of 
an account" (p. 304), a case study calls for the researcher to specifically look for detailed 
themes within the data. To develop this case study I was able to review and triangulate KT's 
interviews, journals, and her independent approach and analysis of the data. Additional data 
include more than 300 emails and letters sent to Levoy from readers of his book or 
participants in his workshops, interviews I conducted with Levoy, his presentation/workshop 
materials, and my notations from his book, Callings. 


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My research question explored the undergraduate experience because that was a time 
in my own life when I denied one of my strongest intuitive calls. I chose KT as a participant 
because of her strong critical thinking skills, her curiosity about life, and her interest in 
intuitive ways of knowing. I chose not to include other undergraduate students in order to 
maintain, as much as possible, the integrity of the heuristic process. Many of my own 
notations in the Callings book, referred directly to my undergraduate years and the constant 
pull between inner and outer messages. 

Berg (2007) describes three types (intrinsic, instrumental, collective) and three design 
models (exploratory, explanatory, descriptive) for case studies. Based on these 
classifications I define my case study as intrinsic-exploratory. Intrinsic because the study 
was "undertaken when a researcher wants to better understand a particular case" such as my 
wanting to understand KT's experience exploring a call as an undergraduate. Exploratory 
because it includes "fieldwork and data collection. . . before designing a research question. . . " 
and has an "organizational framework designed prior to beginning the research" (p. 291- 
292). I include fieldwork and data collection and had the framework of the heuristic research 
model in place prior to my research. 

My research question relates to ways in which undergraduate students experience 
tacit or intuitive ways of knowing - a question bridging head and heart, intellect and other 
ways of knowing - and how contemplative practice may bridge the two and help carry a call 
into being. The terms tacit knowing and intuition are used interchangeably. They share 
orienting generalizations those, "broad, general themes [that] emerge, about which there is 


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actually very little disagreement" (Wilber, 2007, p. 23-24). Tacit knowing includes the same 
definition given to intuition by psychologists and philosophers from many sociocultural 
perspectives. They include the quality of immediate, unmediated knowledge or unconscious 
way of perceiving/knowing (Birgerstam, 2002; deLaszo, 1990; Jung, 1971; Osho, 2001; 
Polyam, 1966; Schulz, 1998). 

Focusing on an unconventional research interest, at least from a western perspective, I 
considered grounding my work in conventional methodology, such as a mixed methods 
study, using quantitative data from hundreds of Myers-Briggs Type Indicator tests (which 
scores how individuals experience the world through thinking, sensing, feeling, and 
intuiting). I have easy access to these. From "Intuition, Imagination, and Creativity," a 
course I taught at Lesley College, I have dozens of student essays on intuition. That would 
give me concrete data, as well as dozens of stories. But I did not feel satisfied with this 

"Maybe I'll design my research around case studies of how college students connect 
head and heart to find a major or vocation that really matters to them." This question, too, 
lacked personal meaning. I was proceeding based on what would be acceptable, working on 
others, not what was calling to me. Calling being the optimal word! 

I speak of a call as a big intuitive message, much like in those indigenous cultures 
where big dreams are seen as different than ordinary dreams (Jung, 1964); both providing 
messages from a deep place within the dreamer, however big dreams being transformative, 
life changing. Calls can be big intuitive messages, providing a sign or direction to go in a 
particular situation. Husserl (1999) refers to the distinction between a sign that simply 


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indicates something without necessarily implying any meaning, and a sign that carries with it 
something deeper (p. 183). A call carries with it something deep - a big intuitive message. 
The nature of intuition is more fully discussed in the Introduction section. 

Heuristic Research: Origin and Application 

Echoing my own thoughts, Glesne writes, "I wanted to do research with and not on 
others" (2006, p. 2). Heuristic research provides such a lens. Heuristic research is an 
offspring of Edmond Husserl's phenomenology (Husserl, 2008). The process of heuristic 
research was developed by Clark Moustakas as a way to make meaning of the phenomena of 
loneliness. I see it as a way to make meaning of the phenomenon of calls. 

"The phenomenological process. ..does not involve a researcher who is striving to be 
objectivistic, distanced or detached. Instead the researcher is fully involved, interested and 
open to what may appear. Researcher subjectivity is prized and intersubjectivity is 
embraced" (Hussrel, 2008, p. 3). Husserl became "fully involved" in the question of internal 
stability, "a means to achieve the inner harmony [he] longed for" (Sanchez, 2007, p. 377). 
Moustakas longed to understand the phenomenon of essence of loneliness. It is the essence, 
or telos, of callings that I became fully involved in. 

To provide the background for why I chose heuristic research, I discuss my discovery 
of this methodology, followed by an examination of the works of William Perry, Michael 
Polanyi, Abraham Maslow, and Eugene Gendlin who influenced Moustakas. Then I provide 
an overview of heuristic research's six phases (initial engagement, immersion, incubation, 


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illumination, explication, creative synthesis). Finally, I discuss some of the limitations of 
heuristic research. 

For over twenty years I grounded myself intellectually, doing well by all outside 
accounts, but I was dancing around, never with, what really mattered to me. As with the 
following story by Levoy (1997), I put up a good fight but the power of a call eventually won 

I once saw an eagle drop like a stone into the blue-green water of a bay in the Sea of 
Cortez. For the better part of minute, he thrashed around violently on the surface, 
rising a little and then, it seemed, being yanked back down, sometimes nearly 
underwater. Finally he rose, clapping his wings loudly against the water, and lifted 
out a fish almost as large as himself, carrying it off to a cliffside nest. . . Whatever lives 
beneath the surface will usually put up a fight to stay there, and this goes for some of 
the wildlife we're likely to encounter in diving into our own pasts, (p. 175) 
I participated in groups that played on the surface, often breaking just beneath the surface 
when discussing questions such as passion in work, creativity, authenticity, and calls. "From 
what rests on the surface one is led into the depths" writes Husserl (Welton, 1999, p. ix). I 
went below the surface, discovered a passion for understanding bigger questions about 
consciousness and intuitive ways of knowing, honored that passion, returned to school to 
study transpersonal psychology, and found a path that allowed my inner voice to quiet down 
for a while. A calling doesn't need much down time, and it never stops speaking up. 
"Callings keep surfacing until we deal with them" (Levoy, 1997, p. 34). 


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A recent wakeup call came when I was considering my doctoral work. I could do a 
project that would be neat and clean, giving me interesting data and analysis. I could simply 
use all the Myers-Briggs scores, papers, surveys, and student records that I had available to 
me. I could satisfy the requirements of the external world, while remaining unsatisfied 
within, however as Levoy (1997) writes, "most people settle. . . by giving up on themselves 
and choosing approval rather than authenticity. . . What happens then, says Maslow, is that our 
center or gravity is in 'them' and not ourselves (p. 195)." 

After reading an article on intuitive inquiry, by Rosemarie Anderson (2002), my 
curiosity about alternative research methods and methodologies surfaced. I called Anderson. 
We spoke of her work and that of Moustakas. I was drawn to his story and the process of 
heuristic research. 

In heuristic research each researcher has a theme or question asking to be witnessed 
and explored. For Moustakas this theme was loneliness. His relationship with loneliness 
coupled with his interest in tacit knowing, meaning making, psychology, and phenomenology 
led to the development of heuristic research. Moustakas (1990) writes: 

Unlike phenomenological studies in which the researcher need not have had the 
experience (e.g., giving birth through artificial insemination), the heuristic researcher 
has undergone the experience in a vital, intense, and full way. . . Heuristic inquiry is a 
process that begins with a question or problem which the researcher seeks to 
illuminate or answer. The question is one that has been a personal challenge and 
puzzlement in the search to understand one's self and the world in which one lives. 
The heuristic process is autobiographic, yet with virtually every question that matters 
personally there is also a social - and perhaps universal - significance, (p. 27) 


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In heuristic research, the researcher first acknowledges her story, such as the nature of 
a call. She then engages in the six previously mentioned phases of the process. These 
phases allow her to view the story, question or theme from different perspectives. New ideas 
and knowledge about the question may evolve as clusters of meaning surface. 

"The root meaning of heuristic comes from the Greek word heuriskein, meaning to 
discover or to find" (Moustakas, 1994, p. 17). It is linked with the term eureka which the 
mathematician Archimedes coined after instantaneously realizing the nature of buoyancy. A 
eureka discovery is often referred to as an insight. Heuristic research draws upon intellect 
coupled with insightful discoveries. 

Abraham Maslow, Eugene Gendlin, Michael Polanyi and William Perry were 
influential to Moustakas' development of the methodology he called heuristic research. In 
addition, the philosophy of Edmund Husserl, founder of phenomenology, will be woven 
throughout this paper, much like his ideas are woven throughout the ideas of Polanyi, Perry, 
and Moustakas. 

The scope of this paper does not allow for indepth discussions of these individuals' 
work. However, my intention is to bring into the paper the key ingredient each contributed to 
Moustakas' development of heuristic research. 

Edmund Husserl. Husserl, known as the founder of phenomenology, was 
considered by some to be an internalist due to his belief that "mental states depend for their 


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content upon nothing external to the person whose states they are" (Zahavi, 2004, p. 42). 
Moustakas' interest in the internal state of loneliness drew him to Husserl's work. 

Husserl considered the following important to address in doing research: the process 
of epoche, or bracketing one's personal judgments and perspectives; reduction in order to see 
anew an object or experience after acknowledging the impact of perspective and 
interpretation; and, reflexivity or the process of reflecting on the personal impact this new 
meaning has on the researcher. According to Husserl, the researcher "slides between striving 
for reductive focus and reflexive self-awareness; between bracketing pre-understandings and 
exploiting them as source of insight" (Finlay, 2008, p. 1). Finlay goes on to describe that for 
Husserl the process of reduction allows the researcher to undergo personal transformations, 
to view a question or experience from a new angle. 

The "phenomenological attitude" involves a radical transformation in our approach 
where we strive to suspend presuppositions and go beyond the natural attitude of 
taken-for-grated understanding. It involves the researcher engaging a certain sense of 
wonder and openness to the world while, at the same time, reflexively restraining pre- 
understandings. Most phenomenologists would agree that this stance - or perhaps 
more accurately process - is one of the more (if not the most) significant dimensions 
of phenomenological research, [italics in the original] (Finlay, 2008, p. 2) 
As discussed below, in the phases of heuristic research, it is important to suspend or bracket 
presuppositions and reflect on the new understanding of the phenomena being studied. This 
is integral for entering into a "new way of being" (Finlay, 2008, p. 6). 


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Husserl was also interested in the relationship of language to describe an experience 
compared to the actual experience. For example, is my relationship with the word water 
different than my experience of it? I might describe it as wet while my experience and 
associations with it might include vast, green, refreshing, freezing, fear, joy, boats, fish, etc. 
If I were studying water I would want to bracket my experience and pre-assumptions because 
they are not necessarily true of all experiences of water or for the true nature of water. These 
preassumptions, according to Husserl, are entirely internal. This process of reduction 
removes what is perceived, leaving only what is required to view the experience or object at 
its core truth or being. Using reduction and reflexivity, a researcher views the experience, 
i.e., of water, in a new way. This new way may enable new ideas, meaning, or knowledge to 
be discovered. It was the exploration of these relationships that opened the door of 
phenomenology to Husserl (Welton, 1999). 

In order to make meaning of the experience of calls, I considered some Husserlian 
concepts. These concepts have become common considerations for qualitative research in 
general. First, the researchers must bracket personal perspectives, judgments and beliefs, in 
my case about calls. For me these include my belief that calls exist for everyone, and that 
they come to us from a deep inner voice or intuitive way of knowing. I believe they are 
uniquely personal but universal at the same time, and if ignored, they pursue us and resurface 
again and again. Through the heuristic research process, reduction and reflexivity are 
repeated until they can't be, or until one can "suspend the natural attitude, including the 
distinction between objective and subjective" (Roubach, 2004, p. 196). In other words, the 
researcher is continually breaking down assumptions and reflecting on this process until all 


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subjective influences are acknowledged and uncoupled from the core, objective nature of the 
experience being studied. 

Abraham Maslow. Maslow created a schema of human experiences ranging from 
basic physiological needs (i.e., food, oxygen) through a series of physical needs (i.e., shelter), 
each increasingly less physical, eventually leading to emotional and psychological self- 
actualization. He believed that we all strive to move past and through the basic needs, to feel 
safe, to feel part of community, to ultimately arrive at becoming "fully human, everything 
that person can become" (Maslow, 1999, p. 169). 

The ingredient Maslow added to heuristic research is the innate need to move from 
acquiring basic needs towards becoming "fully human" which includes the desire for self- 
actualization. During the initial engagement phase of heuristic research, desire to understand 
more fully the nature of a recurring emotional or psychological question is acknowledged. 
We "discover an intense interest, a passionate concern that calls out to the researcher, one 
that holds important social meanings and personal, compelling implications" (Moustakas, 
1990, p. 27). This moves us beyond acquiring our basic physical, external needs to an 
interest in an inner world where calls reside and speak out to be heard. But, as Levoy writes, 
"If we don't listen, the callings go unnoticed, and we are the worse for it. Our lives become 
absurd - ab-surdus meaning to be absolutely deaf (p. 18). 

Michael Polanyi. Polanyi is best known for his work as a chemist and 
mathematician. He viewed complete objectivity as a delusion, and a false ideal (Polanyi, 
1962, p. 18). After reading several of his texts, including Tacit Knowing, Personal 


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Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy, and Knowing and Being: Essays by 
Michael Polanyi, I do not presume to grasp his theories in chemistry and mathematics. 
However, I fully understand and appreciate his intention to "show that complete objectivity 
as usually attributed to the exact sciences is a delusion and is in fact a false ideal" (Polanyi, 
1 962, p. 1 8). Polyani (1 969) wrote extensively about tacit knowing: 

In science the element has been called intuition. The purpose of this paper is to 
indicate that the structure of scientific intuition is the same as that of perception. 
Intuition, thus defined, is not more mysterious than perception — but not less 
mysterious either. . . " (p. 11 8) 

Tacit knowing is experienced when we know something even though we cannot tell 
how we arrived at that knowing; explicit knowing is when we can easily reconstruct and 
explain something. Turning from his work as a chemist to that of a philosopher, Polanyi 
"reconsider(ed) human knowledge by starting from the fact that we can know more than we 
can tell. This fact seems obvious enough; but it is not easy to say exactly what it means" 
(Polaym, 1966, p. 4). 

We have here reached our main conclusions. Tacit knowing is shown to account (1) 
for a valid knowledge of a problem, (2) for the scientist's capacity to pursue it, guided 
by his sense of approaching its solution, and (3) for a valid anticipation of the yet 
indeterminate implications of the discovery arrived at in the end. (Polanyi, 1966, p. 

Barbara McClintock, Nobel Prize winner, provides an example of using intellect 
coupled with tacit knowing. McClintock was immersed in the field of genetics. Using corn as 


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her subject she would "have a feeling for every individual plant" (Keller, 1983, p. 198). At 
times she would get frustrated, return to sit under giant eucalyptus trees to meditate and wait. 
"When she felt she was ready, she returned to the microscope, and the chromosomes were 
now to be seen, not only by her, but, thereafter, by others as well" (Keller, 1983, p. 148). 

She didn't know quite what she did as she sat under those trees. She remembered she 
"let the tears roll a little," but mainly, "I must have done this very intense, subconscious 
thinking. And suddenly I knew everything was going to be just fine." It was. In five days, 
she had solved the problem she had been working (Keller, 1983, p. 115). 

This "very intense subconscious thinking" is tacit knowledge, an intuitive message. 
McClintock may not have been able to describe how she knew what she knew, nonetheless it 
led to a Nobel Prize in medicine, work that "would eventually change the face of genetics, 
but few could then perceive the extent of the transformation that was in store" (Keller, 1983, 
p.l 12). McClintock was open to hearing inner guidance. She listened. I also believe as 
McClintock does that, "We're after something that lies beneath all that noise, something 
literally unthinkable, something that is not so much communication as communion - a felt 
language, a silence filled not with emptiness but with presence" (Levoy, 1997, p. 28). 
Eugene Gendlin also considered the presence of a felt language, or felt sense, essential to 
wellness and making meaning of our experiences. 

Eugene Gendlin. Gendlin (1962/1981), a psychologist, worked closely with 
colleague Carl Rogers. Rogers is well known for his person-centered approach to 
psychotherapy (Kirschenbaum & Jourdan, 2005). Together Gendlin and Rogers studied 
videotaped therapy sessions and found that clients who connected an emotional feeling with 


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a physical sense were more likely to have successful therapeutic outcomes. For example, if a 
client states she senses a tightening in her chest (an inner felt sense) when describing an 
emotional issue, she was more able to deal with the therapeutic issue. From their findings, 
Gendlin developed a technique called Focusing. Bringing awareness to, or Focusing on, the 
physical feeling (i.e., the tightening in the chest) creates an opening for the emotion to be 
imaginatively moved outside the body through visualization (Klagsbrun, 2006). During my 
initial interview with Levoy, he said: 

Here's the really important question - where do you feel alive and where do you feel 
dead in the course of a week? It's much easier to connect with the alive or dead 
feeling. We all know it. We aren't able to talk about the inner authority or intuitive 
self, but we all know when we feel alive or dead inside. 
This is similar to the felt sense which Gendlin refers to when Focusing. Logical and literal 
interpretations of emotional or mental issues are similarly set aside during the creative 
synthesis process in heuristic research. We are asked to connect with our inner authority, 
where we feel most alive. 

William Perry. William Perry's research on undergraduate students included how 
they position themselves within the college experience and learn to think for themselves. He 
developed a nine stage scheme ranging from Position 1, or Basic Duality, to the highest 
position, Position 9, at which point students engage in critical thinking and make decisions 
based on internal versus external drives (Perry, 1999). His research suggested that in order 
for college students to make meaning out of their undergraduate experience, they need to be 


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in one of the upper developmental positions. They must be able to make a special type of 
personal commitment: 

We have called it a personal commitment in a relative world. By this we mean to 
distinguish it from commitments which have been taken for granted to the extent that 
they have never been questioned, never compared to alternatives which could be 
"thinkable" to the self. (p. 38) 
These personal commitments enable the student to make meaning of the experience. Like 
Perry, Moustakas was interested in how individuals make meaning of experiences and what it 
takes to honor inner, along with external, authority. Like me, Perry drew upon the 
undergraduate experience, specifically how to strengthen a connection to an inner voice, 
engage in personal commitment, and learn to follow its authority. 

An unexpected, but compelling argument developed during the data review, or 
illumination, phase of my work. This argument relates to Perry's work on developmental 
readiness of college students to hear and step into a call, a question Levoy talked about in my 
first interview with him. Levoy said that listening to a call was not undergraduate students' 
forte, that they were not in a time of strong inner direction, but were more likely to listen to 
the voice of reason (or their teachers, parents), and that the deck is stacked against 
undergraduate students easily responding to a call. Levoy also addressed the question of 
whether or not a call needs an environment of tension or conflict to strengthen its voice. 
Mezirow's disorienting dilemma came to mind at this point. Maybe "friction is a 
fundamental property of nature and nothing grows without it" (Levoy, 1997, p. 8). In the 


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illumination chapter I address the coupling of developmental readiness and the questionable 
need for internal friction for calls to be followed. 

Phases of Heuristic Research 

Initial engagement. "During the initial engagement, the investigator reaches inward 
for tacit awareness and knowledge, permits intuition to run freely, and elucidates the context 
from which the question takes form and significance" (Moustakas, 1990, p. 27). This was 
both the easiest and hardest phase for me. It was easy in that the question, or the idea of a 
call, had been a constant whisper in my mind for as long as I can remember. It was hard 
because it felt self-indulgent and too vulnerable to focus on something so personal. 
Moustakas, however, held that a compelling personal question would inherently hold social 
relevance, highlighting the universal quality of the individual experience. I believe this to be 
true, as evidenced by stories about authenticity and calls I hear from my students, the stories 
voiced through the hundreds of emails and letters received by Levoy and shared with me 
from Callings readers. As Levoy said, "I began to realize that beneath the stories of our lives 
are other stories, other lives, and great archetypal armatures on which all our individual 
stories are hung" (1997, p. 137). 

In order to provide more depth to the exploration of intuition and calls, and to 
examine the universality of the phenomenon, I invited a college student to parallel the 
immersion process with me. KT, a twenty year old, graduating senior, describes herself as 
"very intuitive" (in fact she scored as high as one can on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator), 


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she is academically strong, socially well connected, and has a supportive network of friends 
and family. 

Lesley University's Internal Review Board approved student involvement in this 
research (Appendix C). She was involved from start to finish; her involvement included 
interviews, journaling, data collection, meetings with Levoy in North Carolina, data analysis, 
and a creative synthesis to end the project. 

Immersion. According to Moustakas (1990), the immersion phase is just what it 
implies, total immersion in the question or theme of interest: 

The immersion process enables the researcher to come to be on intimate terms with 
the question - to live it and grow in knowledge and understanding it.... Virtually 
anything connected with the question becomes raw material for immersion, for 
staying with it, and for maintaining a sustained focus and 

concentration... spontaneous self-dialogue and self-searching, pursuing intuitive clues 
or hunches, and drawing from mystery and sources of energy and knowledge within 
the tacit dimension, (p. 28). 

During the immersion phase of my project (January through April 2009), I collected 
the following data: an initial phone interview with Gregg Levoy; five interviews with KT; a 
trip to North Carolina to meet Gregg Levoy; reading Levoy' s book for the sixth time (noting 
dates and situations when I'm pulled to particular passages); xeroxing 305 pieces of 
correspondence sent to Levoy from his readers; and, collecting KT's journals. At this phase, 


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my intention was not to categorize, make sense, or process any of the data unearthed in the 
immersion phase but simply to collect it before moving onto the incubation phase. 

The question of developmental readiness coupled with a disorienting dilemma 
became important considerations as I began reviewing the data. A significant disorienting 
dilemma for KT did in fact become part of the discussions and considerations of the nature of 
calls. The issues of developmental readiness and disorienting dilemmas will be further 
discussed in the Explication section. 

Incubation. "Incubation is the process in which the researcher retreats from the 
intense, concentrated focus on the question" (Moustakas, 1990 p. 28). I see this phase, also 
referred to as indwelling, as similar to the Buddhist process of letting go, allowing time for 
the planted seed, the question or theme, to be nourished. 

I was anxious about my ability to really let go of data and my relationship with the 
process, but I did put it all aside from May 2009 through December 2009. This process 
allows "the inner workings of the tacit dimensions and intuition to continue to clarify and 
extend understanding on levels outside the immediate awareness" (Moustakas, 1990, p. 29). 
Polanyi's work with the concept of tacit knowing is evident in this phase - what is outside 
our immediate awareness is allowed to incubate. Through incubation a new way of looking 
at a phenomenon might emerge. "We're after something the lies beneath all that noise, 
something literally unthinkable, something that is not so much communication as it is 
communion - a felt language, a silence filled not with emptiness but with presence" (Levoy, 
1997, p. 28). 


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After a period of incubation, such presence can be seen in the experiences described 
earlier - that of McClintock's discovery of chromosomes. She may have gone through 
several heuristic phases - immersion (into the field of genetics), to incubation (meditation 
under the eucalyptus trees), to illumination (discovery of new knowledge). 

We need to teach ourselves to sit quietly and listen, just listen, long enough to leave a 
decent indentation on the couch. If all our moments are filled with words and 
thoughts, with noise however joyous, then when it comes time to convey our deepest 
intuitions, when our lives demand guidance from within, we'll be speechless. 
(Levoy, 1997, p. 27) 

Illumination. "The illumination process has been continually recognized in creative 
discoveries from the earliest thinkers on science. . . " (Moustakas, 1990. p. 30). During this 
phase the heuristic researcher, much like those doing most phenomenological studies, begins 
to search for "clusters of meanings" (Creswell, 1998, p. 55). Moustakas refers to this as a 
time when the researcher becomes aware of patterns or qualities that are important to the 
question or theme, bringing a new and unexpected meaning to the experience of focus, 
whether that focus is on loneliness, tacit knowing, or calls. 

Glesne (2006) refers to the work of Wolcott who "discusses description, analysis, and 
interpretation as three means of data transformation, or of moving from organization to 
meaning" (p. 164-165). Glesne elaborates on each of these steps in manipulation of data in 
the following way: 


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• Description means careful review of the data as it was collected without preconceived 
notions of what is there. It is a fishing expedition. You don't really know what's in 
the water until you cast your net, and wait! 

• Analysis begins by creating clusters of meaningful categories, like organizing the fish 
according to identifying factors (size, type, where they were found, time of day 
caught, etc.). 

• Interpretation entails making meaning of what was caught through the previous steps, 
and possibly reclustering and then reinterpreting the data. 

Glesne notes that the type of analysis completed will ultimately depend on what is collected 
and the purpose of the study, but these three basic steps will provide a way to begin sorting 
through data. These steps are embedded in the heuristic research; description during the 
immersion phase, analysis during the illumination phase, and interpretation or meaning 
making during the explication phase. 

During this phase I transcribed taped interviews and reviewed all the data (KT and 
Levoy interviews, KT's journals, Levoy's letters and workshop materials), and I 
acknowledged preconceived notions while remaining open to unforeseen clusters of 
concepts. I reviewed all the data five times. Initially I just read through the materials 
without making notations, categorizing, or highlighting. 

The second time through the data I grouped ideas and concepts as they emerged. The 
broadest categories included data sources such as emails/letters, journals interviews, and 
workshop feedback. I then categorized these by total numbers in each category, response by 
gender, response by self-identified college students, and response by self-identified career 
changers (primarily individuals reporting mid-life career changes). Several other 


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subcategories were acknowledged, such as geographical location, but not identified as 
important in final analysis. 

In the third review of data, I highlighted specific recurring themes, or clusters, within 
each of the broader categories noted above. These more specific clusters included how often 
the following concepts presented: listening, being in crisis, developmental readiness, inner 
knowing or intuition, and contemplative practice. 

Then, I looked for topics within each theme. For example, within the theme of 
intuition I found references to an inner voice, a familiar sense of knowing, inner intelligence, 
and having a gut feeling. In the final review of the data, I created sub-groups of these final 
topics. It was unproductive to go deeper with the phenomenological portion. I did, however, 
create a case study from a subset consisting of KT's data. 

Explication. The explication phase, typically referred to as the analysis section in 
dissertations, involves fully explaining what has been discovered in the previous phases, "to 
fully examine what has awakened in consciousness, in order to understand the various layers 
of meaning. ... In explication a more complete apprehension of the key ingredients is 
discovered" (Moustakas, 1990, p. 30-31). Moustakas frames this phase as the point at which 
the pieces come together to form a more complete picture of what has been discovered. I 
moved beyond the various parts, or data, to explain the phenomenon in terms of the meaning 
that has surfaced. Moustakas reminds us that "meanings are inherent in a particular world 
view, an individual life, and the connections between self, other, and the world" (1990, p. 30), 
and personal perspectives are noted within the analysis. Final analysis of this data can be 
found in the Explication section. 


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Creative synthesis. The final phase in heuristic research is an artifact (for example a 
poem, story, or drawing) for synthesizing the researcher's experience. The importance, as 
mentioned above, is in using various ways of knowing to explain or show what has been 

The researcher in entering this process is thoroughly familiar with all the data in its 
major constituents, qualities, and themes and in the explication of the meanings and 
details of the experience as a whole. The creative synthesis can only be achieved 
through tacit and intuitive powers. Once the researcher has mastered knowledge of 
the material that illuminates and explicates the question, the researcher is challenged 
to put the components and core themes into a creative synthesis. (Moustakas, 1990, 
p. 31) 
Again, shifting from logical data collection and review to what Barbara McClintock called a 
"very intense, subconscious thing" (Keller, 1983, p. 112) happens several times in the 
heuristic research process including during this final phase. It is possible that ideas or 
discoveries not unearthed in other phases will surface here. 

Limitations of Heuristic Research 

Heuristic research is not without its limitations and critics. Concerns range from 
validity of a process that uses the researcher as the primary subject, to whether or not 
Moustakas himself followed what he stated as his intention (Sela-Smith, 2002). As a 
reminder, heuristic research revolves around specific phenomena, data, and analysis of 
intense interest to the researcher. According to Sela-Smith (2002), Moustakas did not follow 
his own protocol because he included interviews of others experiencing loneliness, the focus 


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of his research. Her critique was that the process became diluted when Moustakas spoke of 
the universality of an individual's question or experience. After speaking with Sela-Smith, I 
understand her methodological shift and approach but believe heuristic research as 
Moustakas laid it out works well for my proposed research question. 

That question relates to college students, integrating tacit knowing with intellect, the 
possible role of contemplative practice in such integration, and whether or not that 
integration helps accessing meaningful life direction or calls. Because I am not an 
undergraduate student, and I felt it important to include the undergraduate perspective, I 
invited KT to be a co-researcher. Sela-Smith might argue that KT's influence would shift 
some of the focus from me and therefore dilute the pure intention of heuristic research. I 
disagree. KT's insight and willingness to share her experiences were invaluable, adding 
coherence and an important voice to the data. 

Other concerns, generally found in qualitative research, may seem exaggerated in 
heuristic research: for example, subjectivity and its relationship to validity. Due to the nature 
of the self as subject in heuristic research subjectivity becomes transparent, a welcome 
partner in the process. Discussing self as subject in research, Glesne writes: 

Some feel lost in the sifting sands of postmodern perspectives, their footing undone. 
Others see new possibilities take form - the need, for example, to explore self as 
researcher in relationship to research participants; to create interdisciplinary 
composites; to seriously take on the lenses of other ways of looking at the world, 
whether these ways be a spirit trance or astrophysics; and to create new forms of 


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representing what is learned, forms that reveal emotions and feelings. (Glesne, 2006, 
p. 18-19) 
"Objective reality can never be captured" (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005, p. 5), all qualitative 
research is reflexive. When doing any research the question of reflexivity, or subjectivity, 
must be addressed. Reflexivity is woven into every fiber of heuristic research and was an 
important element in my work. 

For those who have taken the 'reflexive turn' in qualitative research. . . the 
implications are always present, of working on the edges of, and constantly having to 
engage with, dominant understandings of what constitutes 'proper' research. 
(Ribbins & Edwards, 1998, p. 4) 

Glesne (2006) defines four categories of participation in research: observer, observer 
as participant, participant as observer, or full participant (p. 50). Heuristic researchers fall 
under the category of full participant and, "Doing so is not as easy as first perceived because 
the researcher must manage two, sometimes conflicting, roles" (p. 50). "In a sense, you 
conduct two research projects at the same time: one into your topic and the other into your 
self and, paraphrasing Reason (1994), the ground on which you stand" (Glesne, 2006, p. 

There was the danger of overlooking or avoiding important data due to my 
relationship with KT or my relationship with the research focus. If the question is one with 
strong emotional concerns, "you must be able to distinguish the line between your passion to 
understand some phenomenon and your over involvement in very personal issues that need 
resolution" (Glesne, 2006, p. 23). The important distinction between doing research on a 


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personal interest versus a personal emotional issue is significant. The latter holds much at 
stake for the researcher, the former is an act of discovery without direction or particular 
outcomes being sought. I feel confident that the research was conducted purely from a sense 
of interest and curiosity. Although the phenomenon of callings has been an intimate theme 
in my life, the heuristic research process actually freed me from its constant companionship 
in my thoughts. 

Familiarity with the theme was another possible concern. The issue of being overly 
familiar with the topic could bring "preformed assumptions about what is going on" (Glesne, 
2006, p. 31). This is often referred to as conducting backyard research. Again, given the 
personal nature of heuristic research, it would be impossible not to use what is familiar. It is 
what the researcher does not know about the familiar theme, what is beneath the recurring 
concept, that creates the stage for good research. 

To address some of these limiting factors of heuristic research, I thought it important 
to bracket and reflect on personal ideas and feelings - which I have done throughout this 
process. According to Kim Etherington (2004), reflexivity is: 

... an ability to notice our responses to the world around us, other people and events, 
and to use that knowledge to inform our actions, communications and understanding. 
To be reflexive we need to be aware of our personal responses and to be able to make 
choices about how to use them. We also need to be aware of the personal, social and 
cultural contexts in which we live and work and to understand how these impact on 
the ways we interpret our world, (p. 19) 


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To further address limitations suggested of qualitative research Patton (2002) 
suggests triangulation. 

Triangulated reflexive inquiry provides a framework for sorting through these issues 

during analysis and report writing - and then including in the report how these 

reflections informed your findings, (p. 495) 
Triangulation helps reduce bias related to just one data source. I triangulated data from KT's 
interviews and journals with data from Levoy's letters and interviews. Data triangulation 
allowed two unexpected significant considerations - developmental readiness and 
disorienting dilemmas - to become elements in the callings discourse. 

Examples can be found of how other researchers (Telles, 2000; Turner, Gibson, 
Bennetts, & Hunt, 2008; Watford, 2008) handled perceived limitations of heuristic research. 
Watford (2008) describes being influenced by how others might view her work: 
What else did I learn? I learned that I can courageously and heuristically explore my 
experiences and that I do have something to contribute. Yet after years of struggling 
to reach this academic plateau, my fear of being judged as unscientific and 
unscholarly, and not receiving my master's degree, did influence the final product, 
(p. 352) 
She does not describe how her thesis was changed by her uncertainty, just that she questions 
whether or not she was "overpreoccupied with rigor to the extent that I forgot my own 
subjectivity in deciding what was research and what wasn't?" (p. 353). I question whether or 
not she dealt with the possible limitations of subjectivity by minimizing it. 


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Turner (2008) studied the impact of clinical psychotherapy training on two 
trainee therapists. Much like my work, students were invited to explore personal change by 
engaging in the heuristic research phases. Turner et al. dealt with the question of primary 
researcher distraction previously described by Sela-Smith. Sela-Smith (2002) criticized 
inclusion of co-researchers in the heuristic research process as moving outside the intent of 
heuristic research's primary purpose. That primary purpose is the exploration of the 
researcher's personal question. Turner et al. (2008) suggest diminishing such distraction by 
avoiding contact between co-researchers while data is being collected (p. 175). I could not 
avoid contact with KT as she was providing ongoing interviews regarding her current 
experiences with contemplative practice, inner ways of knowing, and her sense of calls. 

Telles (2002) used a combination of research methodologies, including heuristic 
research. This author does not cite any possible limitations in the heuristic process, but does 
weave it into a "biocolage of qualitative methods" and states her decision to use these 
methods to allow subjectivity to surface (Telles, 2002, p. 251). 

These three examples of heuristic research in practice show variation in the ways 
researchers have used the process, woven the process into other qualitative models, and dealt 
with its limitations. Making note of its limitations, and acknowledging their potential impact 
on my research, strengthened my resolve to proceed with rigor while honoring the intention 
of heuristic research. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


Data was collected from January 2009 through April 2010. Data included interviews, 
journals, and correspondence. Interviews were between myself and my co-researcher KT, or 
myself and Gregg Levoy author of Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life. 
Additional interviews were conducted with the three of us - KT, Gregg Levoy, and myself. I 
also reviewed my notations throughout the Callings book, many referring to my own 
undergraduate experience and calls. 


Glesne (2006) describes three types of interviews: structured, open, and depth probing. 
Structured interviews have "specific questions", open interviews require the interviewer be 
"prepared to develop new questions to follow unexpected leads" and depth-probing 
interviews to: 

pursue all points of interest with variant expressions that mean 'tell me more' and 
'explain'. The intent of such interviewing is to capture the unseen that was, is, will 
be, or should be; how respondents think or feel about something; and how they 
account for something. Such a broad-scale approach is directed to understanding 
phenomena in their fullest possible complexity. The elaborates responses you her 
provide the affective and cognitive underpinnings of our respondents' perceptions, 
(p. 104) 
I interviewed KT formally and informally, using open and depth-probing formats. Formal 
interviews included four audio taped interviews in 2009 (February 1 6, March 6, April 7, and 
May 4). There are 1 1 hours of interviews resulting in 35 transcribed pages. In addition, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

there were a total of six hours of informal interviews with KT in 2010 (January 24, February 
3, February 26, and May 4). Two informal telephone interviews were conducted in 2009 
with Levoy (February 9 and 26). In person meetings were ducted in North Carolina (March 
11 through 13). 

Written Data 

I reviewed in excess of 300 emails and letters written to Levoy in response to his work with 
Calling, as well as forty-eight pages of KT's personal journal. KT's journals focus on her 
undergraduate experiences and that relationship to contemplative practice, intuition, and 
callings. KT also provided her independently reviewed and written analysis of the data, 
which is included in the data analysis chapter. Correspondence to Levoy ranged from 
individuals changing careers, undergraduate students, people in the 20s to 70s, and from all 
over the world. 

Wall's Notations from Callings 

I include some of my personal notations in Levoy' s Callings as they relate to my own 
experience as an undergraduate. They include my writing parallel statements from his: 
Some years ago, along a country road outside of Fresno, California, on a windy 
spring day, a part of the invisible world was made, for a brief moment, visible to 
me. . . And I saw that what is necessary to make substance or meaning out of any of it 
is a receiver, somebody to receive. (1997, p. 1) 
Such as: 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Thirty years ago, in 1981, outside a country classroom, on a warm spring day, a part 
of the invisible world whispered to me. . . And I knew that what was necessary to make 
meaning out of it was a receiver, me. . . Yet I refused to listen. 

Or from Levoy (1997): 

We thus have an impressive arsenal of defense mechanisms - denial, distraction, 
repression, projection, procrastination - whose job descriptions are to prevent attack 
by the superego. They do this by blinding us to the kind of impulses - and callings - 
that trip the superego's alarms, and by misrepresenting the threat of those calls, 
making them seem more costly and inopportune than they are, so that we'll avoid 
them. (p. 194) 

My notation: 

Seemed the job description of my college advisor as well - to make my declaration of 
psychology as a major seem very costly and inopportune; and I did avoid it. My 
personal arsenal of defense mechanisms included denial of the most immense 
magnitude which was necessary in order to repress a powerful call. 

These two examples represent dozens of my notations; all in some way referring back to my 
undergraduate experience in 1981. 

Researcher 1: Wall's Data Analysis 

I reviewed the data five times. First, without categorizing or attempting to make 
meaning of the data. Next, I created broad categories for the types of data: emails and letters, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

interviews, journal entries, or Levoy's presentation materials. Then read for repeating 
themes or clusters of meaning. Three themes surfaced and are classified as intuition, 
developmental readiness, and disorienting dilemmas which were then reviewed for ideas or 
subthemes within each theme. Finally, KT's interview notes and journals were reviewed 
separately for a case study. Table 1 (page 83) outlines heuristic research phases, purpose of 
each, and outcome from each. Table 2 (page 84) indicates quantitative breakdown of data 
into broad categories and themes. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Table 1 : Heuristic Research Phases, Purposes, and Outcomes 




Initial Engagement 

Determines theme to explore 

Theme: Calls 


Data Collection 

Levoy Correspondence 

305 Emails/Letters 

Levoy Interviews 

Initial Phone 

Informal Interviews in NC over 3 Days 

KT Interviews 

5 Formal Interviews (6 Hours) 

35 Transcribed Pages 

KT Journals 

48 Pages 

Jan's Notations from Callings: 

Finding and Following an 

Connections between notations and 

Authentic Life 

other data. 

Quotes used to support findings and 

Creative Synthesis 


Removes Researcher(s) from 

Provided a new lens from which to 

Immersion Phase 

view and reflect on data. 


Search for Themes or Clusters of 

Data Reviewed 5 times: 

Meaning in Data 

1) Reviewed without categorizing 

2) Grouped into broad categories: 

total numbers, gender, type of 

data (emails, interviews, journals) 

3) Pulled out Themes: 

disorienting dilemmas, 

developmental readiness 

4) Reviewed for Subthemes: 

no relevant subthemes surfaced 

5) Reviewed for Case Study 


Analysis of Data 

New Variables Surfaced 

Importance of Disorienting 

Dilemmas and Developmental 

Readiness in acknowledging and 

following a Call. 

Creative Synthesis 

Finalize Process for Researcher(s) 

Poems and a Collage 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Table 2: Data Categories and Themes 


Emails and Letters 



GL Materials 


N = 107 

N = 15 

N = 15 

N = 2 

N = 139 

80 (W), 20 (M), 7(?) 

15 (W), 10 (M), 0? 


2(M) All GL 

105 (W), 27 (M), 7 (?) 


Total W M ? 

Total W M ? 

Total W M ? 

Total W M ? 

Total W M ? 


21 13 3 5 

4 3 10 

7 7 (KT) 

10 1 (GL) 

33 23 5 5 


6 4 2 

5 4 10 

2 2 (KT) 

13 10 1 2 


80 63 17 2 

6 3 3 

6 6 (KT) 

1 1(GL) 

93 73 20 

W- Women 


? - Gender Unknown 

KT- Co-researcher 

GL- Gregg Levoy 

Data Categories 

Intuition. There were 33 references to intuition (23 from women, 5 from men, 5 
unknown). Intuition is referred to as the following: 

• 'aha' moments 

• an inner space 

• liquid moments 

• that place inside 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

• inner authority 

• knowing things without knowing how 

• inner connection 

• nonverbal inner potential 

• inner intelligence 

• inner voice 

• a calling. 

There are 21 references to intuition from emails and letters from readers of Callings (13 from 
women, 3 from men, 5 unknown). There are 4 references to intuition from interviews (3 
from KT, 1 from Levoy). In addition, there are 7 from KT's journals, and 1 from Levoy's 
presentation materials. 

Developmental readiness. The work of William Perry on developmental readiness 
became relevant at this point. Perry's work will be discussed in more detail in the analysis 

Three are 13 data references to developmental readiness (10 from women, 1 from 
men, 2 unknown). References about developmental readiness included: 

• whether or not undergraduate students are mature enough to follow a call 

• is it too risky a time for emerging adults 

• individuals might not be able to find true personality at age 17 or 18 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

• college students were just learning to listen to internal over external voices. 

One reference is from an interview with Levoy that, "college age is not a time of strong inner 
direction, they are not developmentally ready, it is not their forte, they are more likely to 
listen to the voice of reason." Of these 13 responses, 6 came from emails or letters referring 
to Callings (4 from women, none from men, 2 unknown), 5 are from interviews (4 from KT, 
1 from Levoy), and 2 from KT's journals. None of the 6 undergraduates who wrote to Levoy 
mentioned 'readiness' as a factor. 

Disorienting dilemma. There are 93 references about conflict, tension, 
disorientation, or life changing situations. Of these 73 are from women and 20 from men. 
Of the total references: 80 are from emails or letters referring to Levoy's Callings (73 from 
women, 17 from men, 2 unknown); 6 references are from interviews with either KT (3) or 
Levoy (3); KT referred to a disorienting dilemma 6 times in her journals; and, Levoy made 
one reference to the relationship between conflict and callings. 

Of the total references (93) under the theme of disorienting dilemmas, I found 3 
subthemes or clusters of concepts: health issues (20), being at a crossroad or transformative 
place in life (42), and career challenges (6). 

Two other references feel under the general theme of a disorienting dilemma, the first 
was being a crime victim (which could be included under crossroads but wasn't defined in 
that way), and the other disorienting dilemma was having an addiction (which could have 
been included under health issues but was described in a very different manner than others 
under that cluster). 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

The coupling of a disorienting dilemma with intuitive calls became an unexpected but 
important relationship in the outcome of this research. This relationship will be discussed in 
detail in the analysis chapter, but some examples are provided below. 

Health issues (physical, emotional, mental) referenced independently and also 
referred to in association with inner knowing or callings included those from individuals with 
cancer, Lyme's disease, back pain, anthrax poisoning, mysterious physical symptoms, 
general physical discomfort, and having a brush with death. The cluster of individuals who 
referred to a crossroads or transformational place in life coupled with an inner knowing or 
calls also made statements about needing to release a smothering soul, having days of 
emotional turmoil, being enlivened yet frightened, feelings of holy terror, being in an intense 
personal time, and needing to face fear of listening to a call. The need to face a fear in order 
to listen to a call is referenced by 9 individuals, while feeling both enlivened yet frightened 
by the prospect is mentioned by 5 others. In the initial interview with Levoy, he wondered 
what level of crisis is needed to make the shift and follow a call, "There is something 
beautiful and dangerous in that question." 

KT speaks to the nature of crisis and "disparate structures" (Levoy, p. 8). In her 
journals she writes about undergoing turbulence, shaken at her foundation (physically, 
emotionally, and mentally). She notes how that turbulence numbed and distanced her from 
the crisis she was going through, until only her "soul remained and provided the greatest gift 
[she] could receive - a renewed sense of self, renewed spirituality, renewed passion." As 
with individuals who responded to Levoy' s Callings, KT described that fear ultimately shook 
the turbulence out of her. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Growth happens when we receive the turbulence, the suffering, to eventually rise 
through it and come out a different person. You just allow it. ... I believe it was not 
only college that attributed to this balancing of my parts, but my brother's 
diagnosis. . . .So for me, it was a calling to use that crisis as a reality check, for some 
people just going to college will help them... .The crisis was part of my calling. 
KT wrote about another issue that occurred during her first two years in college. "I had a big 
dilemma; I remember freshman and sophomore years. I could not understand 
transience. . . how could I share a moment with you and never see you again?" In our 
interviews, she spoke about how this dilemma challenged her to move into areas that 
frightened yet excited her - the beauty and danger Levoy mentioned. College is a time of 
such exciting and potentially frightening questions, as are other times of transition as 
evidenced by the 14 references found in the Levoy correspondence. 

In my interview with Levoy he talked about being invited to give a talk at Virginia 
Tech almost a year (almost to the day) after the killings there. He was told "don't pull any 
punches - talk about mortality and how that impacts choosing a life path." This brings up the 
question, "Do we need something as drastic as facing mortality to motivate us to follow what 
matters to us?" This question relates to the third cluster of disorienting dilemmas about mid- 
life changers. 

Notably, there are references to feeling stuck in a job or becoming unexpectedly 
unemployed from such jobs and now wanting to find meaningful work. According to Levoy 
mid-life career changers (6 respondents self-identified as such) might be engaged in finding 
meaningful work due to this same confrontation with reality and mortality (or aging). One 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

individual wrote that she was "very unhappy in [her] corporate job and could not stop the 
nagging voice that told [her] there was more." 

From the 300 plus pieces of correspondence reviewed, 6 were undergraduate students 
who attended a workshop by Levoy. Each appreciated his message but none mention 
disorienting dilemmas specifically. This may have been due to the fact that they attended the 
workshop as part of a course with the assignment. They may not have been developmentally 
ready to delve into the topic, or they may not have been called to do so. 

Researcher 2: KT's Data Analysis 

KT independently reviewed the data. Her only instructions were to read the material and 
record anything she noted as important or recurring. In her analysis she wrote, "While 
reading over the book Callings, journal entries, recordings, and letters sent to Gregg, I found 
meaning in particular themes and patterns that thread throughout the information." 
She begins by stating: 

I immediately thought of the work of the Belgian physicist Ilya Prigogine who was 
awarded the Nobel Prize for his theory of what he calls "dissipative structures, part of 
which contends that friction is a fundamental property of nature and nothing grows 
without it - not mountains, not pearls, not people. . . .we must therefore be willing to 
get shaken up, to submit ourselves to the dark blossoming of chaos, in order to reap 
the blessings of growth." The concept of friction has been profound throughout this 
research experience. It began as an oppressive force that caused disorientation, 
confusion, essentially being thrown off track into an unknown pit. It then 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

transformed into intensity, as though this friction slowly opened up new holes in 
perception and therefore causing new feelings never before experienced (intense 
ability to be in the moment). Once the intensity subsides the meaning begins to arise 
and incubate from the experience. Closure is made via dreams, expectations, and new 
shifts on the meaning of life. The person who re-enters the world post-friction is new 
however they are reconnecting with a childhood essence that is more incandescent 
and easier to access. 
Then KT describes the patterns she found. These include themes around friction, intensity, 
meaning making, connecting to essence, path verses outcome, callings from dreams, facing 
mortality, and intuition or callings. She did not categorize nor include quantitative data. For 
each pattern she included examples from our interviews or her journals, some of which I've 
noted below. 

Friction. "My thoughts are swimming around, going at such a fast pace, that I 
become flighty-like in the external world." "But the problem is it's just like something 
where you feel a loss of control." "So for me, maybe I needed something to really shake me 
out of the depths and face a new reality." 

Intensity. "I don't know, it's a real liveliness about myself and although that feeling 
doesn't last really long, I believe it's happening for a reason." "I'm just feeling really 
expressive where before I felt like I was taking in a lot, now the output is starting to tap in. I 
think I've been waiting for that." 

Meaning making. "There has been some change-like embracing change instead of 
being of being afraid of it. I liked the security of knowing that something would last forever; 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

like if I'm going to be friends that this is for good, and I feel I have really overcome that." "I 
feel that this has helped me embrace the changing parts of me." 

Connecting to essence. "It's the same feeling I got when I was a child. I think of it 
as grounding, maybe a witness is a good way to describe it." "I think this part of me is very 
related to me following my calling in life." 

Path versus outcome. "I feel like the calls are more, for me, about the path not the 
outcome." "One of the biggest lessons I learned this semester is how to be open to 
possibilities, and change, and being flexible in that sense." 

Callings through dreams. "Dreams have been, for me, a very strong channel in my 
life through which I have received many messages and callings." 

Facing mortality. "I was surrendering to my own mortality." 

Intuition and callings. "I noticed another time where I could see the difference of 
my intuitive way of knowing versus a rational, logical way." 

In heuristic research the process of data review is known as the illumination phase. 
Throughout this process, two unexpected theories became relevant to my research question. 
These theories are presented in the following chapter which represents the explication phase 
in heuristic research. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Analysis: Explication Phase of Heuristic Research 

My research question explored a possible link between contemplative practice, intuition (tacit 
knowing), and ways in which an undergraduate student find a call. A call is defined as a 
meaningful, authentic vocation or life path. In addition, it is important to understand ways in 
which contemplative practice, intuition, and calls impact brain activity. How the brain is 
influenced by contemplative practices and intuitive calls is important as it relates to holistic 
education - the pedagogical approach relevant to my research question. Holistic education 
embraces whole person learning, the integration of various ways of learning and knowing. 
Those ways involve all parts of ourselves - brain, body, mind, and spirit. 

I set out to look at my own experience with the nature of calls. I chose the heuristic 
research process to do so. The heuristic researcher focuses on a phenomenon of personal 
interest. My personal interest is in the nature of calls for undergraduate students. As 
mentioned, this was a time in my own life when an intuitive call was heightened, yet ignored. 
I used a phenomenological approach, reviewing all my data "to uncover the manifest 
interaction of significant factors characteristic of the phenomenon" (Berg, 2007, p. 287). I 
also wanted to capture the experience for a current undergraduate. To capture such an 
experience I invited KT, a graduating senior at Lesley College, to join me in the process. 
This led to a case study of her experience. 

I reviewed the literature on trends in higher education, contemplative practice 
(including meditation and spirituality) in higher education, and the brain research related to 
intuition and contemplative practice. None of the literature reviewed made connections 
between these three branches of my question, but some showed ways in which any two might 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

connect. Those connections included research on contemplative practice and brain function, 
intuition and brain function, or higher education and contemplative practice. 

The findings from my literature review are woven together with the results from data 
collected. The process became complicated by factoring in too many variables - 
contemplative practice, calls, intuition, and ways in which brain functioning relates to these. 
I was further interested in a specific life experience (being in college) at a time I believed 
calls become heightened. Although the case study specifically related to both the literature 
review (trends in higher education and brain research related to contemplative practice and 
intuition), the data for the larger phenomenological study came from the general population 
(which included some self-identified undergraduate students). 

The findings are organized as follows: brief summary of literature review, 
phenomenological presentation from all the data, a case study with a subset of data reviewed, 
and finally some research limitations. In addition the terms intuition, inner voice, inner way 
of knowing, tacit knowing, and calls or callings were used interchangeably. For the 
remaining sections and chapters of this dissertation, I use intuitive calls to represent this 
inner way of knowing "without knowing how one knows" (Polyani, 1966). 


Literature review summary. The literature review suggests paradoxical trends in 
higher education. Curriculum in higher education is moving in the direction of increased 
training for careers and the job market, while at the same time students are requesting more 
time to explore questions related to spirituality and personal growth. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Calls: A phenomenological perspective. "Within the sociological tradition, the 
most widely used means of data analysis is thematic analysis, a process that involves coding 
and then segregating the data by codes into data clumps for further analysis an description" 
(Glesne, 2006, p. 147). During the illumination phase of the heuristic research process two 
"data clumps" or themes relevant to calls emerged. These themes are: developmental 
readiness and calls, how intuitive calls surface in the midst of tension or disorienting 
dilemmas. At the onset of this research, I believed that intuitive calls were always ready to 
be followed. I also believed that the primary reason for not following calls was the challenge 
to quiet external pressures, and that with contemplative practice as a tool, those external 
pressures could be lessened. I was missing two important considerations: that there may be a 
developmental readiness factor in being able to follow an intuitive call, and that the call may 
become loudest during times of tension, stress, or some other disorienting dilemma. 

As I reviewed trends in higher education, important ingredients in the nature of 
intuitive calls and undergraduates surfaced. The literature suggests that colleges and 
universities are increasingly pressured to focus on job readiness curriculum (Andrews, 2006; 
Aronowitz, 2000; Bok, 2006) while studies indicate that three quarters of entering freshman, 
across all majors, want to explore issues related to personal growth (Astin, 2004; Higher 
Education Research Institute, 2004; Lindholm, 2006/2007; Lindholm, Goldberg & 
Calderone, 2006). The need to explore issues related to personal growth and spirituality 
might be classified as the type of tension or disorienting dilemma facilitating a call or 
personal commitment to the surface. I believed that the statistics from the UCLA HERI 
study (Higher Education Research Institute, 2004) supported my theory that the 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

undergraduate experience provided the perfect time to create discourse related to following 
one's call. However, that belief was challenged during the review process of my own data. 

My original perception required "what the Greek Skeptics called epoche, a 
provisional suspension of judgment about the truth or falsity of, or the belief or disbelief in, 
ideas until a better determination can be made" (Mezirow, 2000, p. 13). Bracketing my 
assumptions and bias about holistic education, intuition, and contemplative practice 
facilitated a shift in my thinking. Some of those assumptions noted previously include my 
belief that intuitive knowing is easily available if contemplative practice was included in 
higher education (through course options, as outside activities, woven throughout 
curriculum). I also believed that encouraging students to trust that intuitive voice was always 
in their best interest, not taking into consideration their developmental readiness. This led 
me to what Mezirow (2000) refers to as "epochal, a sudden, dramatic, reorienting insight, or 
incremental, involving a progressive series of transformations in related points of view that 
culminate in a transformation in habit or mind" (p. 21). 

As mentioned, two concepts surfaced as relevant to connecting contemplative 
practice, intuition/tacit knowing, calls. These two concepts were Jack Mezirow' s 
disorienting dilemma, and William Perry's developmental scheme which outlines phases of 
developmental readiness for undergraduates. These concepts, coupled with relevant trends in 
higher education mentioned, changed my perspective on the broad topic of undergraduates 
and following an intuitive call. 

Developmental readiness. The concept of developmental readiness was brought into 
question during my research and supported by Perry's (1999) developmental scheme. Using 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

a Checklist of Educational Views (CLEV), he conducted research in the 1950s at Harvard 
University to determine nine developmental positions that undergraduates can be classified 
within. Each position relates to the student's self authorship or ability to critically analyze 
and follow their best decision making, thinking, and unique ways of knowing. Most 
undergraduate students' developmental readiness can be placed in positions three through 
six. In this range a student may understand the concept of conflicting ideas or uncertainty 
but relies on outer authority to sort out the uncertainty. In this range, students may be 
starting to trust their inner authority or connect with a personal commitment. Perry explains: 
The commitment we are talking about is of a special form. We have called it a 
personal commitment in a relative world. By this we mean to distinguish it from 
commitments which have been taken for granted to the extent that they have never 
been questioned, never compared to alternatives which could be "thinkable" to the 
self. . . .In religious life the distinction has long been familiar as the difference between 
simple belief and faith. Belief may come from one's culture, one's parents, one's 
habit; faith is an affirmation by the person. Faith can exist only after the realization 
of the possibility of doubt. We shall have more to say about the realization of the 
relation of religion to the intellectual and emotional growth of our students. We are 
concerned now with their experience of commitment as we have defined it. . . .Our 
students experience all such commitments as affirmations of themselves. Many of 
our students use the terms of existential philosophy in describing them, though most 
do so apologetically, knowing the ease with which the jargon can take over. The 
feeling they describe is one of some decision, some choice among actions, values, or 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

meaning which comes from themselves and defines them as individuals. (Perry, 
1999, p. 38-39) 

In terms of my research, it might be that student positioned in the lower schematic 
levels may not have the developmental readiness to follow their own inner authority or 
develop and follow a personal commitment (intuitive call). Perry (1999) frames 
developmental readiness around intellect, comparing a student's decision to take 
responsibility for inner authority to "an ultimate spiritual choice" (p. 107). They may readily 
accept the external authority (professors, parents, supervisors) and ignore or silence their own 
best inner thinking and knowing. As can be seen from my personal experience, I readily 
repressed a strong call as soon as someone of authority, my advisor, questioned it. KT on the 
other hand seems to take the advice of an inner authority. It may have been that the 
disorienting dilemma she was experiencing allowed her to challenge outer over inner 
authority. From her writings, this seems true. 

Disorienting dilemmas. I present the concept of disorienting dilemmas in the 
context of brain activity as it relates to contemplative practice as well as intuitive knowing. 
As discussed in the background chapter, the frontal lobe of the brain is influenced by the type 
of contemplative practice KT described. One of the responsibilities of the frontal lobe is to 
judge and analyze thus potentially interfering with one's ability to process intuitive 
messages. KT's journal writing is an example of relaxing the activity of the frontal lobe, 
allowing her intuition to influence the right temporal lobe. Results from functional magnetic 
resonant imaging (fMRI) suggest that the right temporal lobe is activated when an individual 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

is experiencing an intuitive message (Volz & Cramon, 2006). This is also the area of the 
brain influenced by negative emotions. Therefore, the right temporal lobe is active during 
disorienting dilemmas as well as intuitive calls. Some contemplative practices (for example, 
KT's journal writing) quiet the judgmental frontal lobe allowing the right temporal lobe to be 
more active. A less engaged frontal lobe, combined with a more active right temporal lobe 
may allow the inner authority or intuitive call to be heard. 

An undergraduate's experience with heuristic research: A case study. I separated 
out and reviewed my interviews with KT along with her journal writings. I found some 
similarities as well as differences from the review of the data as a whole. There were two 
universal themes throughout the data. The first was the experience that stressful, tense, or 
disorienting dilemmas were motivational in listening to intuitive knowledge or calls. The 
second theme related to the developmental readiness of the individual in acknowledging and 
following intuitive messages. KT's disorienting dilemmas were her brother's illness 
(described as issues of transience or mortality by KT) and her conflict with the transient 
nature of friendships during her first two years of college. KT stated that both these were 
influential in strengthening her ability and choice to follow her inner voice. 

There were unique ways in which KT described processing this inner voice. KT's 
use of dreams to help her give voice to tension, or turbulence as she described it, did not 
come through as a universal theme in the data as a whole. However, dreams have been used 
in many cultures throughout time as ways to process deep unresolved issues (Jung, 1964). 
KT also described journal writing as contemplative, a way to process and resolve such 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

KT referred to the importance of balance in being able to respond to intuitive calls. 
She wrote about the balance of head and heart, of having one foot in the inner world and one 
food in the outer world. She describes this balance as her "unchanging part" (Interview 
March 6). Along with journal writing, she wrote about how poetry and acting had been 
important ways in which she honors her inner world. 

I learned from KT's interviews and journals that intuitive calls are a process. I had 
always thought of calls as single moments in time. Witnessing KT's involvement in a deep 
disorienting dilemma, and her speaking and writing about it, allowed a transformational shift 
in how I viewed intuitive calls. KT's work suggested to me that an intuitive call may be 
more easily followed when an individual is developmentally ready to resolve the tension 
which often accompanies an inner call. Although the particulars of KT's experience were 
unique to her, the nature of coupling a disorienting dilemma with shifts in a life direction 
appears universal. 

KT also referred to journal writing as a contemplative practice. The question can be 
raised about whether or not such a practiced allowed her to process instead of repress the 
feelings being raised by the "turbulence" in her life. She expressed that it did. Journal 
writing may have quieted KT's judgmental frontal lobe, while the disorienting dilemmas she 
experienced stimulated her right temporal lobe, allowing intuitive calls to be processed. 

The greatest lesson I learned from KT's involvement in this study was the reminder 
that following an intuitive call is a process. It is not a single life episode. She demonstrated 
integrating a personal contemplative practice (such as journal writing) allows a dialogue 
between the inner and outer worlds; and this dialogue creates a balance in one's life. For KT, 
when this balance exists she listens to and follows what truly matters to her. She follows her 


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inner authority. KT has been an inspirational co-researcher. Witnessing her journey, I 
wonder how my undergraduate experience, including the denial of a call, would have been 
different? I wonder if I'd engaged in a contemplative practice, or other way of exploring my 
intuitive nature, whether I might have followed my internal authority (to study psychology 
and philosophy) over external pressures (to declare a major with 'good' job potential). 

Research Limitations 

Several limitations to this research should be discussed. First, the heuristic research process 
is by nature very subjective. The researcher is focusing on a personal phenomenon of 
interest. To counter this as much as possible steps were taken to bracket biases and to 
triangulate the data. 

Although of personal interest, the data suggests the universal nature of intuitive calls. 
However, my data was gathered from individuals interested in the topic of calls. Individuals 
whose data was used were selective versus random. In fact much of the data came from 
individuals' corresponding to Gregg Levoy about his book, Callings: Finding and Following 
an Authentic Life. Although my interest revolved around undergraduates and their 
experience of finding and following a call, only 6 of the 300 plus individuals who wrote to 
Levoy self-identified as college students. If my question focused on any type of 
transformative experience, including entering college, the findings would not have changed, 
but in so limiting it to a specific life experience, the outcome is diluted. 

I purposely chose to work with only one student. Initially this decision was based on 
my focus of the undergraduate experience which is thirty years past for me. I wanted a fresh 
lens, and to see if that lens differed from mine of so many years ago. This limits my ability 


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to generalize the findings to all undergraduates. Inviting other students into the process 
would have also taken away from the very nature of heuristic research which is to focus on 
the self. However the hundreds of emails and letters to Levoy served to verify the universal 
nature of calls, and to expand the lens allowing me to see the importance of developmental 
readiness and disorienting dilemmas in following a call regardless of the disorienting 
dilemma (crossroads in life including entering college). 

The final limitation was in the case study, which examined the experience of an 
undergraduate student at Lesley College. Lesley College attracts student interested in self- 
reflection and personal growth. Although this is important to consider when reviewing the 
results, studies cited (Astin, 2004; Higher Education Research Institute, 2004) suggest that 
across all majors and disciplines undergraduate students want an opportunity to explore their 
personal as well as intellectual potentials. 


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Creative Synthesis Phase of Heuristic Research 

Heuristic research concludes with a creative synthesis project. This synthesis is a creative 
representation of the researchers' experience of the research process. Both KT and I took the 
opportunity to finalize our research by independently engaging in this final phase of heuristic 
research. I created a visual narrative, KT a metaphorical myth. It allowed us to express our 
unique ways of finding closure and confirms the importance of a holistic pedagogy - 
allowing individualism in the making meaning process. See Appendix D and E for 
researchers' creative synthesis projects. 


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Studies suggest that undergraduate students are interested in exploring issues such as 
spirituality (HERI, 2004; Lindholm, Goldberg & Calderone, 2006), contemplative practice 
integration into curriculum (Holland, 2006; Sabath, 2006), and that they are developmentally 
ready, or approaching a readiness, to utilize an inner authority to follow a personal 
commitment (Perry, 1999) or call. Incorporating contemplative practice and intuitive calls 
into learning is foundational to holistic education. Contemplative practice and intuition 
impact brain activity. Negative emotions or disorienting dilemmas also influence brain 
activity. In considering ways of connecting undergraduates to their call, I feel it important to 
acknowledge cognitive, or neurological, changes and activities. Ways in which 
contemplative practice (for example, meditation, journal writing, yoga, being in nature, 
praying), intuitive calls, and disorienting dilemmas interact in the brain point to an important 
step in enhancing the undergraduate experience. 

As noted above, existing studies suggest the need to incorporate spirituality and 
contemplative practices into higher education; my research added another dimension. 
Attention should be paid to the developmental readiness of college students and their ability 
to trust themselves and engage in a sense of personal commitment or intuitive calls. The 
work of William Perry might be used as a model for coupling the developmental readiness of 
students to trust their own best ways of knowing while incorporating contemplative practice 
into the undergraduate experience. In addition, disorienting dilemmas or stressful situations, 
including the experience of being in college, can be important components in moving 
through suggested developmental stages (Perry, 1999) towards greater self reliance and self 
authorship. Observing the impact that these two components (incorporating contemplative 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

practice and addressing disorienting dilemmas) have on students' developmental readiness 
and ability to follow intuitive calls, without compromising intellectual rigor, could create 
greater satisfaction and outcomes for undergraduates. 

A pedagogical shift towards holistic education is not without strong barriers. The 
trend in higher education towards "knowledge factories" (Aronowitz, 2000) versus "learning 
organizations" (Bok, 2006) is prevalent. As Raelin (2007) suggests, "Perhaps the most 
recognized trend in college education in the United States has been the decline in the liberal 
arts, which purportedly prepare students for more moral and civic participation in society" (p. 
51). This author supports linking theory with practice to promote a more meaningful 
undergraduate experience. 

There is a difference between integration of theory and practice, or experiential 
learning, and the learning-to-earn model of higher education. Experiential learning is meant 
to help students explore issues of personal growth such as intuitive calls. According to 
Goyette and Mullen (2006), "Training in the liberal arts is believed to strengthen a student's 
character and to develop qualities such as reason, judgment, and a sense of social obligation" 
(p. 498). Learning-to-earn strips curriculum of the personal and focuses on learning for the 
sake of job creation, regardless of the personal commitment, or lack thereof, a student may 
feel for the work. 

The case study of KT's experience encapsulates the findings from the 
phenomenological approach. KT's willingness to engage in the self exploration 
demonstrated the power of integrating contemplative practice during a disorienting dilemma 
of immense significance, and the experience allowed her to attend to what she describes as 
her inner self (intuitive call). She suggests that this made all the difference in the meaning 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

she made of the experience and her own developmental growth. Witnessing KT's process 
(through interviews, meetings, journals, traveling to North Carolina to meet Gregg Levoy) 
solidified my belief in the importance of integrating contemplative practice (in coursework, 
through extra curricula activities, or woven throughout curricula). Educators understand the 
importance of strong cognitive engagement. However, focusing on just this one way of 
constructing knowledge and learning may limit a students' potential. 

Holistic education would engage all parts of the student - body, brain, mind, and 
spirit. Brain studies show that the left temporal lobe is engaged when logic and reason is 
engaged, but we often ignore the right temporal lobe where creativity and intuition function. 
This right temporal lobe is also where disorienting dilemmas, or negative emotions, get 
processed. As educators, we can encourage contemplative practices to quiet the judgmental 
frontal lobe and help students address stressful, disorienting dilemmas in the classroom thus 
activating the intuitive part of the brain. It may be that calls can then be heard, and as 
students become more developmental sophisticated, followed. 

I acknowledge the complicated picture this research has drawn, and delight in the 
possibilities it presents. Complications include the semantic confusion around topics such as 
intuitive calls and contemplative practices. Contemplative practices can include spirituality, 
being in nature, meditation, journal writing, playing music, praying, writing poetry and any 
number of any activities which access an individuals' inner ways of knowing. Ways of 
knowing also become open to various interpretations when terms such as tacit knowing, 
intuitive knowing, and somatic or embodied knowing, just to name a few, overlap. My 
decision to include brain studies further complicated the picture, but in a discourse on higher 
education and intuitive calls it was essential. Adding to this multifaceted study, 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

developmental readiness and disorienting dilemmas surfaced as key components. My 
research started out exploring the influence of contemplative practice and intuition on calls, 
but ended by looking at contemplative practice, developmental readiness, and disorienting 
dilemmas - their influence on each other and on undergraduates' access to intuitive calls 
hopefully leading to more meaningful experiences and outcomes. 

Methodological limitations add to this complicated picture. These limitations are 
fully described in the results chapter. They include the inherent subjective nature of heuristic 
research, selected versus random data, and backyard (Lesley College student) case study 
data. About subjectivity Glesne (2006) writes: 

Monitoring subjectivity is not synonymous with controlling for subjectivity, in the 
sense of trying to keep it out of your work. When monitoring your subjectivity, you 
increase your awareness of the ways it might distort, but you also increase your 
awareness of its virtuous capacity. You learn more about your own values, attitudes, 
beliefs, interests, and needs. You learn that your subjectivity is the basis for the story 
you are able to tell. It is the strength you build on. (p. 123). 
In writing about random versus non-random research subject sampling, Berg (2007) 
describes convenience samples which "relies on available subjects - those who are close at 
hand or easily accessible" (p. 43). Berg goes on to caution the use of such sampling, but 
acknowledges its value in some situations. 

The final complicating factor, backyard research, must also be considered. Glesne 
(2006) states that "many researchers are drawn to studying their own institution or agency, to 
doing backyard research" (p. 31). She discourages this population as it presents problems 
such as researcher role confusion, ethical and political dilemmas, and difficulties with closure 


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of the study. However, if these problems are addressed, Glesne believes "backyard research 
can be extremely valuable" (p. 33). 

Implications for Future Studies 

The evidence seems clear that higher education is moving in a direction of increased career 
building. What is less obvious is the impact this trend has on undergraduates' interest and 
pursuit of personal questions. My research lends support to other studies that suggest the 
importance of such pursuits. My interest is the integration of contemplative practices into 
higher education. It takes the question of this integration one step further by looking at one 
possible outcome of contemplative practices for undergraduates. That step is whether or not 
such integration provides the environment to allow students to hear an intuitive call. The 
missing variables in my work were twofold. First how developmentally ready a student is to 
listen to their inner authority, and second that disorienting dilemmas might motivate a student 
towards following that inner voice. Undergraduates are well positioned to hear that voice, 
which might strengthen all aspects of the college experience. As noted in the Higher 
Education Research Institute (2004) significant study: 

Given the broad formative roles that colleges and universities play in our society, 
higher education represents a critical focal point for responding to the question of 
how we can balance the 'exterior' and 'interior' aspects of our lives more effectively. 
(P- 2) 

Before moving into the question of balancing our 'exterior' and 'interior' life aspects, we 
need to understand what is meant by 'interior'. Terms such as interior lives, contemplative 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

practice, spirituality, intuition, calls, self authority, and inner authority become confusing. 
The semantics involved can take away from the value of the research. Although each 
researcher has the responsibility for operationalizing such concepts, inconsistencies in 
terminology can dilute individual study outcomes. Therefore, I encourage research that will 
minimize this diluting effect, because research into such topics as spirituality, contemplative 
practice, and intuitive calls all have the same intention - finding ways to enrich and 
strengthen the undergraduate experience. Fragmentation experienced from inconsistent 
language minimizes the impact they might have collectively. 

For a larger phenomenological mixed method study, I can imagine using Perry's 
(1999) Checklist of Educational Views (CLEV), or similar tool, to determine developmental 
readiness of students, coupled with a contemplative practice experiential component. The 
CLEV could be given pre and post introduction of the contemplative practice. This may 
provide information about contemplative practice and its role in shifting students towards 
greater self-authorship and personal commitment {intuitive call). This would not address the 
concept of a motivating disorienting dilemma, but that information might surface through the 
CLEV as well, or a series of additional questions could be included to capture that 

The case study in my research was particularly relevant to the heuristic process. 
Similar follow up case studies could be pulled from the larger phenomenological study. I 
was able to use the single case study as a snapshot of the results found in the 
phenomenological data, and that data supported the importance the case study findings. 
Those findings contributed the missing variables to factor into my question - the importance 


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of developmental readiness and a motivating disorienting dilemma in order to hear and 
follow an authentic, intuitive call. 


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Complicating factors and study limitation do not detract from my findings. Those findings 
include the importance of including the issues of developmental readiness and disorienting 
dilemmas in the discourse on the undergraduate exploration of personal quests such as 
spirituality and intuition calls. In fact, the Higher Education Research Institute (2004) study 
supports the need for including self-exploration into the college experience. Of the 236 
diverse schools, with 1 12,232 students responding, more than three quarters surveyed stated 
they are looking for encouragement for such self exploration. Other studies indicate 
successful outcomes where contemplative practice has been incorporated into a college or 
university (Holland, 2006; Sarath, 2006; Subbiondo, 2005). Spirituality and contemplative 
practice in higher education are used interchangeably in the literature. The many ways of 
describing such practices should not interfere with a universal acceptance of its importance to 
positive outcomes for our students. 

This research was driven by a personal recurring life theme about calls. As an 
undergraduate I heard and rejected a call. As is the nature of true calls, it resurfaced again 
and again. This research is the result of my immersion in that call. I am dedicated to the 
following of calls, to engaging students in practices which might allow them to develop 
strong internal authorities. The stronger the internal authority, the more likely a call will be 
followed. As to why this matters, Levoy (1997) writes: 

Passion is a state of love, and hunger. It is also a state of enthusiasm, which means to 
be possessed by a god or a goddess, by a Wild Thing. One could be possessed by the 
god of poetry or the goddess of animals, the god of commerce or the goddess of home 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

and hearth. It we imagine that calls issue from the gods, then we are as close as we 
ever get to them - the calls and the gods - when we are enthusiastic. We move 
toward a kind of divine presence because, through our passions, we are utterly 
present. We are utterly charged and focused. We are oblivious, we forget ourselves, 
our troubles, our day-to-day living-on-Mulberry- Street lives. We hitch ourselves to 
something bigger, (p. 66) 


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Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Appendix A: Internal Review Board Proposal 

IRB use only: 



CF Rev 


NA #: 

Chair Init 

DF Init 


Application for Review of Human Subjects Research 

Date Submitted : March 25, 2009 

Application for: (X) Exemption from IRB Review Expedited Review Full Review 

Lead Researcher *: Name, Address, Phone, E-mail 

Jan Wall, 3 Crescent Hill Ave., Arlington, MA 02474 


Faculty Supervisor* (only if student researcher): Name, Address, Phone, E-mail 

Anne Pluto, Lesley College, 617-349-8948, 
* Faculty Supervisor is the official Principal Investigator under Federal Regulations 
Investigator(s) status - check all that apply: 

Faculty Staff (X) Graduate student Undergraduate 

Title of the Project: This is Your Brain on Intuition: Listen 
Proposed Project Dates: Summer 2009 

Type of Project: Faculty research (X) Thesis/Dissertation Independent Study 

Other (please describe) 

1 . 1 Briefly describe the purpose of the study: To explore the connection of the intellect with 
the intuition, experientially and through existing research on relevant neuroscience 
(right/left brain hemisphere activity), on learning and meaning-making for college 

1.2 Provide the number of adults, and the number and ages of minors: 1 Adults 

1.3 Briefly describe the project design (e.g., experimental, ethnographic, etc.): Mix of 
Phenomenological, Case Study, Heuristic Research 

1.4 Indicate whether the study involves any of the following: 

(X) Case Study Experimental intervention Task performance 

Educational tests Standard psychological tests Survey or questionnaire 

(X) Interviews Observations (X) Analysis of existing data 

1.5 How will subjects be recruited? Only 1 subject — student in one of my previous classes 
(Intuition, Imagination & Creativity) who scored exceptionally high on Meyers-Briggs 
Type Indicator for Intuition, self-identifies as bridging various ways of knowing, and has 
indicated strong interest in exploring her own meaning-making of the college experience 
and my research topic. It is highly unlikely that she will be in other classes that I teach. 

1.6 Do subjects risk any stress or harm by participating in this research? If so, why are they 
necessary. How will they be assessed? What safeguards minimize the risks? [It is not 
necessary to eliminate all risks, only to be clear and explicit about what the risks may be. 
The IRB is alert to any tendency to suggest that risks are lower than they may actually be.] 
No stress or harm by participating in this research. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

1.7 Describe the data that will be collected: 
Interviews with the student 

Reflective journals by student and researcher 

Also author of 'Calling: Finding an Authentic Life", Gregg Levoy, is willing to share 
letters he has received front readers that may relate to this topic. All identifying markers 
will be removed from the letters. 

1.8 Describe the steps to be taken to respect subject's rights and expectations of privacy, 
confidentiality and anonymity: The student's name will be changed, and several 
identifying factors (age, major, year in school) will be changed as well. 

1.9 Will subjects' identities or private information be revealed if this study be reported 
through publication or public presentation? No 

If this application is seeking an exemption from IRB Review, please check the policy in the 
Faculty Handbook. Please see the worksheet on the criteria for an exemption. If you believe 
that the proposed research qualifies for an exemption, you may end the application here and 
submit these two pages to the Committee through the Associate Provost in the Provost's 
Office. You will be notified whether your application for exemption has been approved. If it 
is not approved, you will be asked to complete the remaining sections of this application. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Appendix B: Informed Consent Form 

Informed Consent Form 

Study Title: This is Your Brain on Intuition - Listen Primary Researcher: Jan Wall 

Description of Experiment: 

The intention of this research is to explore the use of intuition as a way of knowing. Intuition is being 
defined as one of the four psychological types identified by Carl Jung - the others being thinking, 
sensing, and feeling. Both co-researchers will engage with the text, Callings, by Greg Levoy and 
record their objective and subjective impressions in a daily journal and/or directly within the text*. At 
the end of the study, July 6, 2009, the student (co-researcher) will share her journal with the primary 
researcher. The student agrees to five to six interviews with the primary researcher to discuss her (the 
student's) experiences of: (1) engaging with the text, (2) intuition as a way of knowing/learning (as an 
undergraduate), (2) any shifts or changes noticed as a result of participating in this project, and (4) 
whatever information seems important to the discussions. 

Taped interviews will take place over a period of three months, at a mutually agreed upon time and 
place. The co-researcher understands she is not required to share her journal or any other information 
if she chooses not to. She also understands that she may withdraw from the project at any time without 
any consequences to her. All data collected, including tapes from interviews, will be kept in a secure 
location (researcher's office). 

*Heuristic Research is being considered as methodological approach to this research. Engaging with a 
text is one approach to the first phase of this research method. 

In order to participate in this research study, it is necessary that you give your informed consent. 
By signing this informed consent form you are indicating that you understand the nature of the research study 
and your role in that research and that you agree to participate in the research. Please consider the following 
points before signing: 

• I understand that I am participating in a research project. 

• I understand that my participation will be anonymous (that is, my name will not be linked with my 
data) and that all information I provide will remain confidential. If for some reason I do not wish to 
remain anonymous, I will specifically authorize the use of material that would identify me as a co- 
researcher in this project. 

• I understand that I will be provided with an explanation of the research in which I participated and be 
given the name and telephone number of an individual to contact if I have questions about the research. 
In addition, I understand that I may contact a member of Lesley University's Internal Review Board if 
I have questions concerning my rights as a participant in this research. 

• I understand that participation in research is not required, is voluntary, and that, after the research 
project has begun, I may refuse to participate further without penalty. 

• I understand that there is no known risk/harm involved than that encountered ordinarily in daily life or 
during performance of routine physical or psychological examinations or tests. 

• I understand that I if I have any questions or concerns about the research process, or my involvement 
in it, I can contact any, or all, of the following: 

o Anne E. Pluto, Ph.D., Supervising Faculty, Lesley University, 33Mellen Street, Cambridge, 

MA 02138; aplutoftf) , 617-349-8948 
o Gene Diaz, Ph.D., Co-Chair of Internal Review Board, Lesley University, 29 Everett Street, 

Cambridge, MA 02138, gdiaz(g) , 617-349-8426 
o William Stokes, Ed.D., Co-Chair of Internal Review Board, Lesley University, School of 

Education, Cambridge, MA 02138, wstokes(S) , 617-349-8408 
o Nathaniel Mays, Ph.D., Dean of Student Life and Academic Development, Lesley University, 

23 Mellen Street, Cambridge, MA; nmays(g) , 617-349-8408 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By signing this form I am stating that I am over 1 8 years of age, and that I understand the above information 
and consent to participate in this study being conducted. 


(of Co-Researcher) 
Print your First Name: 

Today's Date: 

Print your Last Name: 


(of Researcher) 
Print your First Name: 

Today's Date: 

Print your Last Name: 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Appendix C: Internal Review Board Letter of Approval 



Institutional Review Board 

May 4, 2009 

29 Everett Street 
Cambridge, MA 02138 
Tel 617 349 8408 
Fax 617 349 8599 
wstokes@lesley. edu 

Office of the Provost 

To: Jan Wall 

From: Gene Diaz, Co-chair Lesley IRB CyAx— f* 
RE: Application for Exemption: This is n,our Brain 

) Intuition: Listen 

IRB Number: 4808 

This memo is written on behalf of the Lesley University IRB to inform you that your 

application for exemption has been approved. Your project poses no more than minimal risk 

to participants. 

If at any point you decide to amend your project, e.g., modification in design or in the 

selection of subjects, you will need to file an amendment with the IRB and suspend further 

data collection until approval is renewed. 

If you experience any unexpected "adverse events" during your project you must inform the 

IRB as soon as possible, and suspend the project until the matter is resolved. 

Your work qualifies for exemption under provision: 

46.101 (b) (2) Research involving the use of ... survey procedures, interview procedures or observation of 

public behavior, unless : 

(i) information obtained is recorded in such a manner that human subjects can be identified, directly or 
through identifiers linked to the subjects; and 

(ii) any disclosure of the human subjects' responses outside the research could reasonably place the subjects 

at risk of criminal or civil liability or be damaging to the subjects' financial standing, employ ability, or 

Date of IRB Approval: May 4, 2009 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Appendix D: KT's Creative Synthesis 


June 9, 2010 

The Harvest of the Sting 

The Harvest of the Sting 

The cohesion that exists within a person is most often never thought about. This is not 
to suggest that human existence is in perfect order and harmony-but that is not until a 
shattering of existence takes place that one then discovers "ah yes there was a cohesion, a 
connective thread, that enabled me to go about my day." One discovers that there was a 
silent, unnoticed whole that could be flexible and relative to diversity in context as well as a 
solid sameness that was conducive to relationships, meaning making, and the opportunity for 
empathy. However, it is simply expected, even demanded by those who know not a testing of 
this kind of existence. It is the platform from which self definition springs from, it is the 
reality of everyday consciousness. 

But what happens when there does spring a shattering? When the cohesion rips open 
like a thin piece of skin and out spills the raw and slimy organs; a new vision of humanity 
and immortality at once. What does one do as they spill over vulnerability and despair that 
others either watch their step for or get stuck in. What does one do to reunite unity, albeit a 
new form? 
For me-I write poems. 


In the dim arena of matter- 
Couches, lamps, tables 
Lies a strip of the world 

A room that carries weight 

Pounds of flesh, bone, cries, laughs, 

And stillness 



Past is pulled forth with pictures and binds the 

Unity of a family 

When his chest expands it ticks like a clock 
And sweet nectar air releases into the void 
I swallow the vitality and store it for later- 
When I am by myself, peeling back another day 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 


Glaring and deceptive it mirrors the defenses of sadness and hunger for humor. 
The colors dance outward at silence, coughing, blinking in waiting time 
I will come to you if you promise what I need. Ok, I'll stay here. I can feel the sweet 
numbing and plunge so willingly I scare myself. 


I feel soft and fluid 

I swim outside and am brave as a warrior 

Defeat the worry, stomp the weakness 

I look in the mirror and greet a child, unsullied and milky 

There is a full house today and the candle is dense and warm 

All present and no conflict 

From these eyes 


She steadies the nerves, anxieties, and sadness within me. A wise and gentle protector she 
holds the space to where I need and even stretches it out when she knows I am ready. She 
will glide over the ruble and even dance between it. We see saw through contradictions and 
float on emptiness. I felt myself revived as the clearness of day entered the room. She helped 
me to reshape, a beautiful kind of broken. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

Appendix E: Wall's Creative Synthesis 

I created a collage. The first image (p. 135) is of the entire collage. Subsequent images (pp. 
136-139) show details. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By A Thread 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By A Thread: Detail #1 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By A Thread: Detail #2. 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By A Thread: Detail #3 


Integrating Contemplative Practice into the Undergraduate Pursuit of Finding and Following an Intuitive Call I Wall 2010 

By A Thread: Detail #4