Meditation and ballet associated with wisdom

March 7, 2016
Science Daily/University of Chicago
A new study confirms the age-old conception that meditation is associated with wisdom. Surprisingly, it also concludes that somatic (physical) practices such as classical ballet might lead to increased wisdom.

A new study, "The Relationship between Mental and Somatic Practices and Wisdom," published Feb. 18, 2016, in PLOS ONE, confirms the age-old conception that meditation is associated with wisdom. Surprisingly, it also concludes that somatic (physical) practices such as classical ballet might lead to increased wisdom.

"As far as I know this is the first study to be published that looks at the relationship between meditation or ballet and increased wisdom," said Monika Ardelt, associate professor of sociology at the University of Florida. Ardelt is a leading wisdom researcher who was not involved in the project. "That meditation is associated with wisdom is good to confirm, but the finding that the practice of ballet is associated with increased wisdom is fascinating. I'm not going to rush out and sign up for ballet, but I think this study will lead to more research on this question."

The researchers included ballet in the study, "not expecting to find that it was associated with wisdom, but rather for comparison purposes," said Patrick B. Williams, lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in the University of Chicago's Department of Psychology. Williams is a member of a research project on somatic wisdom headed by principal investigators Berthold Hoeckner, associate professor of music; and Howard Nusbaum, professor of psychology.

"The link between ballet and wisdom is mysterious to us and something that we're already investigating further," Williams said. This includes ongoing studies with adult practitioners of ballet, as well as among novices training at Chicago's Joffrey Ballet. Williams wants to track novices and seasoned practitioners of both meditation and ballet for months and years to see whether the association holds up over time.

The published research was groundbreaking because science has overlooked somatic practices as a possible path to wisdom, Williams said.
 

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