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.
- 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.