So recently, I took part in this introduction to the Evolution Lounge as an exercise of mindfulness and embodied cognition in a “site of chaos”, which happened to be the centre of a busy tube station. It’s a situation that I, as a chronic Londoner, have experienced many times. It holds many resonances for me; clocking up many moods, memories and experiences just being in this particular site. Of course, they hardly ever enter my mind as I’m usually rushing to some engagement or other (like people do when they’re at stations!). This really allowed me to slow the process down.
I don’t want to spoil the experience for those wanting to take part in it, so I’ll relay my feelings and thoughts from the session.
What was particularly novel and groundbreaking for me was the aspect of practicing mindfulness in this scape of noise, of rush, of adrenaline. I’ve practiced meditation and what I would normally associate with it is finding a quiet area where distractions are minimalised to carry this out. That’s why meditation retreats are so popular, I’d imagine – so this idea intrigued and startled me.
The observations whilst in this mindfulness, as a group, what we picked up in terms of noise, touch and sensation, contrasting this to the inner space and how it felt through the body- just staying still and engaging, but also linking it to how we feel and think at that present moment in a group.
It’s taken some time to percolate, but I realised how much it resonated not only in my daily practices, but in my actual PhD practice too.
What I’ve always found quite difficult is to actually distinguish between thoughts and feelings and how they react on the body. I’m often centered in my own head space and don’t often realise how much my feelings are playing out as well. I’ve always known it, in a way, but the exercise that I did yesterday really brought that to the foreground.
I’ve also realised that my PhD practice focuses on this concept too, from the more blatant 3 degrees – a monologue that I’d written that focuses on citizens undertaking this compulsory mindfulness, allowed to only think to 3 degrees of separation in a world even more saturated in data then we are today – to Object meet Subject, whereby a solipsistic conversation takes place to the point where object and subject cannot be distinguished. My current play that I’m writing, Pioneer, deals with the different test stages of hiveminds – from the pilot where people are becoming convinced to compromise their individuality for this idea of strengthened community and enhanced intimacy (which seems to me to be an extrapolated social media) to the ways in which this technology becomes increasingly warped and uncontrollable.
Because of this, embodied cognition becomes increasingly important to me, not only in my daily practice but how characters can envisage and portray a world that differs from ours, in both an acting theory and an engagement through writing. This is what I’m researching for my worldview chapter now.
Find out more about the evolution lounge here