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FOREST-BODY-CHAIR at Mildred's Lane
Julia O. Bianco, Rachel Schmoker, Sara Smith
Acknowledgments of the Honorable Guest
Gina Siepel, Ainsley Steeves, Samiha Tasnim, Lotte Kliros Walworth
I Have Questions
FOREST-BODY-CHAIR is a project of RAY (the collaborative team of Gina Siepel and Sara Smith), using wooden chairs as an occasion to explore entwined ecological, embodied, and social questions connected to their construction and use. A three-week workshop version of FOREST-BODY-CHAIR at Mildred’s Lane in July 2021 brought together participant-fellows and guest artists for conversation and experimentation across somatic, greenwood construction, and fieldwork practices. Meditation Ocean was introduced into the session, allowing for additional associations to be made between forests and oceans, as well as contemplation of breath as an environmental process and metaphor. Participants were invited to develop meditation scripts collaboratively or on their own.
This script is ideally experienced in a horizontal position. Find, make, or imagine one or more primary points of contact between your body and the environment. This can be the ground or another supportive body such as a pillow, a tub back, a yoga block, folded jacket, or the stomach of a friend.
Slowly settle into the place and shape that is most comfortable for you.
Gently close your eyes as you take a deep breath in.
Adjust yourself, and exhale
Press, roll your shoulders downward, away from your ears.
Take a moment to absorb the sensation that appears
Is there relief in the tension?
As your body fibers lengthen in a new alignment
gently lay this arrangement down,
Patting, pressing lightly into the ground or support below.
Do not exert effort in maintaining this arrangement of musculature.
Instead, allow your awareness to seep into the ground.
As you exhale: feel from both sides, as one might with pressed palms,
The individual fibers and cords rolling through the two perceptive planes
Continue to settle as you breathe, release the muscles of your glutes...
back... shoulders.. jaw.. and forehead.
Follow the pattern of adjustment, pressed placement, and release
slowly sinking into the ground as you breathe.
You may wish to repeat the pattern—revisiting areas of loud relief
Take your time and seep into the process of support
Feel your awareness as fluid, slowly drawing up.
Wicking through the softness of your tissue,
Gathering beaded pools from which stalks of peach fuzz emerge.
Each follicle a collection bowl, amplifying vibrations.
Turning sound to touch, to sight.
Distill your awareness into the tips of these mammalian appendages
Feel, and imagine them as landscape.
Through them, locate a current: a movement of sound, of air.
Rippling the pools of awareness around each hair root.
Note how this current meets the landscape of your contour:
a misty crash of sound, the blustering canopy of your cheeks
Or does this caress continuously flow,
rolling over you from a nearby vent, an open window?
For several breaths, discern the currents as they come in contact with your awareness
Fill your lungs to the count of four
slowly exhale to the count of six.
Experience yourself as a neutral obstruction to these movements,
imagine as before:
between the pressed palms of current and awareness,
of feeler and felt,
the seismic texture of meeting.
This is being held.
As you take a deep breath in.
Adjust yourself and exhale slowly as you press, leaning in, towards the enmeshment of this embrace. Absorb the sensation that appears, from your place in this new arrangement.
Name this: to hold.
As this experience closes, you’ll begin to float again,
along a new current,
feel yourself, from time to time, a jelly-like sea creature
A body held by the environment, taking shape in thick fluid.
Points of Contact: Learning to Float