King, L., Roe, C. A. and Roxburgh, E. C. (2015) A transpersonal exploration of epilepsy & its numinous, cosmic states. Paper presented to: Psychology Postgraduate Affairs Group (PsyPag) Annual Conference, University of Glasgow, 22-24 July 2015. (Unpublished)
Transpersonal experiences offer personal transformation by highlighting the contrast between felt experience and a previously held sense of self-identity and world (Walsh & Vaughn, 1980). They are highly subjective — often labelled as irrational or pathological (Walsh & Vaughan, 1993), thus posing difficulty for ‘objective’ approaches to human research (Anderson & Braud, 2011). A contemporary, qualitative, autobiographical genre of research, auto-ethnography offers voice to personal experience in such a way that the quality and depth of experience is felt by the reader (Boylorn, 2006; Jago, 2002). It seeks to evoke a lived experience within a socio-cultural context, initiating personal and societal change (Ellis, 2000). Using a variety of creative genres (Bochner & Ellis, 2002), it emphasises embodied expression from the heart (Grant, Short & Turner, 2013). In this talk I will explain how auto-ethnography can be applied as a transpersonal research method. I will discuss its use within my research into transpersonal experiences occurring during epileptic events and the specific character and intensity of the feelings that accompany them (Trimble & Freeman, 2006). Examination of altered states of consciousness is an established area in transpersonal psychology (e.g. Tart, 1975; Grof, 1975). In my research, I will be using a lucid dreaming technique developed by Hamilton (2014) to explore my own epileptic events. This is an established therapeutic technique that I employ in my transpersonal practice. I will be using this technique of my own epileptic experiences to present and analyse using the auto-ethnographic method. By providing details into the auto-ethnographic approach, I will demonstrate how it provides a deep understanding of experiences that are not easily accessible through other research methods (Laslett, 1999).