CNMN > Projects > Energy Matters Workshop (Part A): Embodied Listening to Energy Crisis

Shumaila Hemani

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Energy Matters Workshop (Part A): Embodied Listening to Energy Crisis


Art causes people to ques­tion or consi­der their own beliefs, assump­tions, or values. It can offer new pos­si­bi­li­ties, solu­tions, and alter­na­tives to cur­rent condi­tions. Sound Arts enhance our capa­ci­ty to notice the world in unu­sual ways. Art helps us to lis­ten bet­ter. There are many bene­fits of lis­te­ning to the world dee­ply as it culti­vates empa­thy, trust, inclu­sion, com­pas­sion, and more. Hil­de­gaard Wes­ter­kamp, the pio­nee­ring sound­scape com­po­ser writes :

“Lis­te­ning not only grounds us within our own inner world from which ins­pi­ra­tion springs, but most impor­tant­ly, it ins­pires new ideas, and new approaches to stu­dying the sound­scape, and it changes the qua­li­ty of sound­ma­king, spea­king and musi­cal expres­sion. Taking the time to lis­ten goes against today’s 24/7 sta­tus quo of a hec­tic pace and stress, of racing toward riches and suc­cess, of never having time and always being impor­tant­ly busy. In this lar­ger context, lis­te­ning is a conscious prac­tice in lear­ning to change our pace in a socie­ty dan­ge­rous­ly spee­ding out of control. Out of that doing comes an enti­re­ly new expe­rien­tial know­ledge.” (THE DISRUPTIVE NATURE OF LISTENING : TODAY, YESTERDAY, TOMORROW, p.47)

As part of my artist resi­den­cy at FUTURES/Forward, the Inter­na­tio­nal Cen­ter of Arts for Social Change (ICASC) fun­ded by the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts and the Met­calf Foun­da­tion and Tri­co Chan­ge­ma­kers Stu­dio at Mount Royal Uni­ver­si­ty fun­ded by the Cal­ga­ry Arts Deve­lop­ment, I part­ne­red with Alber­ta Eco­trust to apply my artis­tic prac­tice of deep lis­te­ning and sound­scape com­po­si­tion to ini­tiate arts-ins­pi­red dia­logue on ener­gy affordability.

Ener­gy is an increa­sing concern for many Cana­dians ; howe­ver, spea­king about (un)affordability conti­nues to hold the stig­ma among­st people who are expe­rien­cing dif­fi­cul­ties paying the ener­gy bills on the one hand and on the other hand the issue is not prio­ri­ti­zed by new regu­la­tions for clean elec­tri­ci­ty and Canada’s prompt tran­si­tion to net zero. In the series of com­mu­ni­ty-enga­ged arts work­shops, Ener­gy Mat­ters, we invol­ved sta­ke­hol­ders to address ques­tions such as : How vital is ener­gy affor­da­bi­li­ty in deve­lo­ping #sus­tai­nable #cities ? How do cli­mate change and Canada’s tran­si­tion to Net­Ze­ro impact low-income groups strug­gling with ener­gy affor­da­bi­li­ty ? Why must affor­dable hou­sing inte­grate ener­gy affordability ?

The acti­vi­ties out­li­ned in this por­tal would be help­ful to any envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion hol­ding a simi­lar kind of arts-ins­pi­red dia­logue on the cli­mate cri­sis, ener­gy jus­tice, and cli­mate jus­tice. The gui­ded medi­ta­tion atta­ched to this pro­ject would help prac­ti­tio­ners in crea­ting a safe and inclu­sive space where par­ti­ci­pants could dis­cuss their work on ener­gy poverty.

1) Begin each work­shop by crea­ting a safe space that brings toge­ther the community’s unders­tan­ding of what “safe space” means and how it would be nurtured.

2) Wel­come com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers into the space and prac­tice an acti­vi­ty for groun­ding and cen­tring that helps indi­vi­duals to over­come their resis­tance and nur­tures more open­ness. This can be done with a medi­ta­tion that brings atten­tion to the breath and to the sen­so­ry sti­mu­li around or with a wal­king meditation.

Here is an example of a gui­ded prac­tice and the atta­ched score and video is an example of how it is conduc­ted in a work­shop set­ting. See the score below for a down­loa­dable ver­sion. You can find audio examples of simi­lar gui­ded medi­ta­tion prac­tices for work­shops in the gui­ded medi­ta­tion links below.


Wal­king Medi­ta­tion for Groun­ding and Lis­te­ning to the Earth’s Pulse

Stand with feet about shoul­der-width apart. Shoul­ders relaxed, soles of the feet connec­ted to the earth, knees a lit­tle soft, palms at the sides. Eyes are in soft focus, seeing everything.



Adopt a natu­ral stance. Bring your atten­tion to the soles of the feet. Ima­gine that you are gro­wing roots down into the earth. Let the roots be your ancho­ring to the earth.

Since the soles of the feet let the ener­gy of the body sink into the soles and roots. The knees are a lit­tle soft to pro­mote circulation.

Shoul­ders are relaxed. Palms of the hands relaxed.



Visit your heart and allow a very plea­sant memo­ry to emerge.

Visua­lize and light up your spine tra­vel­ling from the tip of the tail­bone, ver­te­bra by

ver­te­bra up into the skull.

Ima­gine a gol­den thread shoo­ting out of the crown of your head to a dis­tant star.

Ima­gine that the upper part of your body is floa­ting sus­pen­ded from a star. Try to

balance the fee­ling of the lower body roo­ted to the earth and the relaxed floating

sen­sa­tion of the upper body.

The chin is tucked under a bit to help ali­gn the spine.

Try to bring your body into this ali­gn­ment at dif­ferent times of the day whe­ther you are

sit­ting, stan­ding or walking.



Now repeat this affir­ma­tion : With each step, I feel the earth hol­ding me, sup­por­ting me, sus­tai­ning me. I am simul­ta­neous­ly slo­wing each breath.”

Thank you for joi­ning me in this gui­ded practice.

*The words and phrases in square bra­ckets need not be said aloud. It is to help the gui­ded prac­ti­tio­ner to pause as the medi­ta­tion tran­si­tions from one phase into another.

  1. After this gui­ded medi­ta­tion, the par­ti­ci­pants can be enga­ged in ques­tions for reflec­tions on the jam board fol­lo­wed by acti­vi­ties that engage them in an artis­tic acti­vi­ty and a dia­logue per­tai­ning to ener­gy acces­si­bi­li­ty. For more details, please refer to part b) and part c) of this project.
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