Conducting an individual, yoga-based, first-person mini research project
author: Matthijs Cornelissen
last revision: August 28, 2015
The project is meant to encourage an active engagement with the theory and practice of Indian psychology. You choose a concept, area or process of Indian psychology in which you're especially interested and you focus your efforts in this area. It can be a theoretical issue, a psychological skill or quality you would like to develop, or a change you want to bring about in yourself.
In other words the project is meant to help you organize, assimilate and integrate your thoughts and personal experiences regarding an aspect of Indian Psychology that has your specific interest.
Writing a structured diary
While such individual projects are active, focussed and (if you choose this) "public", the structured diary is essentially passive, open-ended and in first instance private. The diary is primarily meant as an exercise in self-observation. Writing a diary forces one to become more acutely, precisely and "objectively" aware of oneself and of all that all is happening inside, and in the process one develops the "inner instrumentation" needed for the precise and reliable self-observation that forms the core of Indian psychology. The diary itself, however interesting it may be as a trail of inner change, is from this perspective, a "side-benefit", while the honing of one's inner instrument of knowledge is the real issue.
The combination of writing a structured diary with a first-person mini research project has been found especially effective, both for inner change and for assimilating the basics of Integral Indian psychology. You can find out more about the structured diary, here.
How to set up the project?
The project consists basically of two parts:
- A more theoretical part, which may tend to be somewhat abstract and impersonal. This part should include a literature study as well as your own considerations and reflections.
- A more practical, personal part, in which self-observation will play a major role, and which will generally be focused on some attempt at inner change. This second part should include a personal account of what you experienced and discovered about the concept or process by "going within" and by trying things out in oneself. To this end you can include selected passages from your diary, for example the struggles and victories that show how the study developed, how you tried to explore, understand and experience the various concepts and processes by focusing inside and going within.
An important aspect to consider in the discussion of your findings is to what extent they might be generalizable and useful for others. In all stages of the project, it is good to be as concrete and detailed as possible!
How the projects are used during the courses organised by IPI
During the IPI-based courses, there are generally two projects. The first is a kind of trial, and will last one month. The second will normally continue for the rest of the course.
At the end of each project, two presentations are given, an oral one for the group, and a written one of which the participant can decide how public it will be.
For the oral presentation one will normally get approximately 35 minutes inclusive discussion. The written presentation should have the standard sections of a research paper:
- Introduction focusing on what motivated you to take up this particular aspect/concept/process;
- Theoretical explanation and elucidation of the involved issues, inclusive a short literature study;
- Methodologies used;
- Findings and developments;
- Summary and conclusion.
Available resources and support structures
- People around you;
- Books and articles, on the IPI website and elsewhere;
- In case of interest in Sri Aurobindo and the Mother:
- PDF files of the works of Sri Aurobindo.
- PDF files of the works of the Mother;
- Thematic index of Mother's Collected Works;
- Other material available on the website of the Sri Aurobindo Centre for Consciousness Studies.