Ethics. Research. Community.

Michigan State University Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series: "Enlightened" Breath: Breathing and Biomedicine

Type of Event


Event Starts

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 12:00pm

Event Ends

Wed, 02/12/2014 - 1:00pm

Michigan State University Bioethics Brownbag & Webinar Series:
"Enlightened" Breath: Breathing and Biomedicine

In his famous essay “What is Enlightenment” the philosopher Emmanuel
Kant argued enlightenment consisted in “man’s emergence from his
self-imposed immaturity.” In his presentation, Dr. Normandin proposes that
the same process is required in modern medicine in regards to the healing
potential of breath. While much is known of the physiological importance of
breathing in biomedicine, there is almost no appreciation of its possible
therapeutic role in both psychic and somatic ailments. In this sense the
modern medical paradigm remains in a state of immaturity when considering the
potential of breath and breathing. Dr. Normandin argues for a new era – an
age of enlightenment – in the use of breath and breathing as a healing
tool. In this quest the nature of many eastern practices – anapanasati
(mindfulness of breath) foremost among them – can provide a model for
western biomedicine to follow. The metaphor of enlightenment in the ‘use’
of breath is not only a nod to the eventual hoped-for outcome of this
practice in eastern spirituality, but also a conscious reference to some of
the potential aspects to consider in implementing it more deeply in a modern
context. These include awareness, awakening, individuality, insight and
mindfulness. Dr. Normandin suggests that if we move beyond preconceptions
about these practices (as being, for example, only spiritual or New Age) and
approach them with reason – if we “dare to know” (sapere aude) – then
their potential preventative and therapeutic role in medicine can be almost

Sebastian Normandin, PhD, is a Visiting Instructor in Lyman Briggs College
at Michigan State University.

Join us for Sebastian Normandin's lecture on Wednesday, February 12, 2014
from noon till 1 pm EST online: The webinar can be accessed at If you have trouble connecting, visit and click on Brownbag/Webinar for some instructions on
joining the webinar.