The project in full is an interactive meditative experience that can be utilized by anyone willing to try, for the purpose of increasing mindfulness, self-reflection, and comfortable expression of things that may be less likely to be put into words. Most of what went into this project was a culmination of me and my partner’s (Nina Laurenzo) knowledge and experience concerning mindfulness, improvisation, and the collaboration of music and movement. I am a musician with a decent background in improvisation, while Nina has a longstanding history of dance performance and teaching dance. Both of us have a Bachelors of Science in psychology, and academic experience with mindfulness so it was incredibly satisfying to tie in all of these elements so organically.
The main challenge involved in this project was unique in that it was not concerning deadlines or output, but rather in having to grow my own understanding of this type of interaction in order to be able to participate. This is the type of experience that could easily be faked for onlookers, as it would be easy to choreograph movement to planned music, but loses real value when exemplified that way. Instead, a truly unique experience comes when everybody involved is participating with their fullest intent, using mindfulness and improvisation to guide the group, which necessitated that I myself be fully present. Also having to wait and let pieces of the experience fall into place as the protocol worked itself out was quite difficult. In hindsight, all of the steps seem so obvious, but before some of those pieces fell into place I had no clue how to fill such gaps or flesh out a confusing notion I was struggling with. This is where my partner was of enormous help, stepping in to help me clarify and organize my old thoughts and provide brilliant insight that could only come from a world of experience wholly outside my own.
Finally working through this experience taught me that there is so much more to be explored with this type of interaction. In terms of flavor, the protocol that came out of this project is utterly vanilla compared to an interaction involving more people, more instruments/tools of expression, greater anonymity, or an experience primed beforehand to focus on a certain personality element or issue that’s of concern. Plus location actually has a huge impact, which I learned from transitioning from the inside to the outside in our attempts. Starting this on the beach, a cliff side, or even a vacant field would lend powerfully to the style of interaction that the experience would develop, especially when compared to a dark room, a studio, or a kitchen. This begs the question, could a group practicing this type of interaction travel frequently and allow others around the world to join and gain exposure to this type of thinking and practice? The cost restrictions are low as travel would only entail luggage for three or four people, with only a few instruments and maybe a small generator. Location could easily be arranged in free public spaces, or in private residences for low overhead. Overall, it would be great to test this experience empirically and have it validated as a beneficial experience in terms of its impact on mindfulness and elements of life satisfaction, especially with a diverse range of participants from different locations.
I think that this is a valuable contribution, as I have not seen someone practice mindfulness or expressive movement in this type of manner, and definitely not combined. This is certainly not something I can really the take credit for though, as the project is simply a culmination of things that I have learned myself from others, transformed into a palpable project that new people might enjoy and even benefit from.