On Being Touched and Moved: why spirituality is really about the body - RSA

On Being Touched and Moved: why spirituality is really about the body

Public talks


RSA House, London

  • Mindfulness
  • Social brain
  • Health & wellbeing
  • Philosophy
  • Spirituality

In the next in our new series of talks and debates opening up a new public conversation about spirituality in the 21st century, Professor Guy Claxton explores spirituality’s embodied nature.


The “felt” experience of spirituality is described in surprisingly common terms by those who undergo it. Though accounts are clad in all kinds of cultural tropes, its essence appears to lie in a spontaneous, and usually fleeting, transformation of bodily awareness; people describe a dissolution of separateness and loss of agitation, and report feeling suffused with energy, brightness and open-hearted concern. In his lecture at the RSA, Professor Claxton shows how new insights from the science of embodied cognition can help to make sense of this perceptual shift. Spirituality as a set of practices can be seen as bound up with people's desire to recapture and stabilise these tantalising glimpses of an inherent, untarnished capacity for physical vitality, peace of mind and loving fondness for the world. Can science also help to structure this quest?

Speaker: Guy Claxton, Co-Director of the Centre for Real-World Learning, and Professor of the Learning Sciences, University of Winchester.

Chair: Jonathan Rowson, Director, Social Brain Centre, RSA

Find out more about the project.

Find out more about the RSA’s Social Brain Centre


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