This research project aims to explore the concept of Liyan, a very important concept for Nyikina people of the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Nyikina collaborators have described it as a feeling in the chest area that is linked with a sense of connection, intuition, and general well-being. They have also described contemplative practices that they carry out to strengthen their Liyan. This project aims, in collaboration with current Nyikina collaborators, to conceptually map the notion of Liyan in relation to Nyikina contemplative practices, well-being, and ethos. We will use participatory research, micro-phenomenological interviewing and audio-visual methods to record and analyse experiences associated with contemplation and the strengthening of Liyan. We will also compare the results with the notion of ethical know-how developed by Francisco Varela in relation to Buddhist contemplative practices. This project is important because strong Liyan is associated for Kimberley Aboriginal peoples with rightful reciprocal relationships with other beings, humans and non-humans, which is seen as a foundation of individual and social health, and environmental sustainability. Exploring and sharing knowledge of these practices from various wisdom traditions that support the cultivation of harmonious relationships (with humans and non-humans), seems especially important in our turbulent times.

Sarah Laborde, PhD

Griffith University (Australia)