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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 is a visualization practice, creating an image to help relax your body and soothe your mind. Prior to beginning, set an affirmation for the practice, for example, “I am…relaxed/I am calm/I am focused/I am alert,” or any other affirmation that you'd like to bring to your practice. [Each line space represents a short 15-30 second pause for normal or elongated mindful breaths. Go as you please at your own pace.]
Find a comfortable seat and take a normal breath to reset.
Starting with the breath, notice your natural rhythm.
Allow your breathing to be normal and without changes. Simply notice how you’re breathing at this moment.
Feel the breath coming in through your nose or mouth. Feel the breath going out through your nose or mouth. Feel the rise and fall of the belly as you breathe.
Using your natural sense of self-awareness, use your noticing as a way to scan your body. Notice the top of your head. Notice the skin of your face.
Notice your jaw, and your neck, shoulders, and back. Is there any tension that can be released?
Bring your attention to your arms. Allow them to lay heavy at your sides or on your lap. Notice your torso and hips; adjust your body if you need to.
Notice the tops of your legs and the bottom where you're sitting. Bring your attention down to your knees, calves, and finally to your feet and toes. Notice the bottoms of your feet; if you are standing, how are you distributing your weight in your feet?
Take a moment to scan your body once more, on your own, from your feet back up to the top of your head.
Take this moment to go within, close your eyes, and if you haven't already, take a moment to relax any tension throughout the body.
Slowly open your eyes with a softened and lowered gaze at the images ahead of you.
Imagine walking along the shore of the ocean. Visualize yourself taking one step after the other in the warm wet sand. Notice as the gentle ocean waves occasionally touch your feet.
Turn to look at the horizon as the sun rises, and take in the cool blue colors of the calm waters.
Note the subtle, gentle movements of the water.
Imagine the water is your innermost self.
With every breath, notice the water.
The color of the water
The way the light reflects
The sound it makes
The way it feels, whether warm or cool
The way it moves, when it's gentle and relaxed
With each breath, visualize yourself stepping deeper into the water and recite your affirmation, “I am…”
Go deeper until you are floating and weightless, and affirm, “I am…”
Go deeper until you are fully immersed in the waters of your innermost self, and affirm, “I am…”
Be here. Be comfortable surrounded by the waters of your inner-most self. Breathe and affirm, “I am…”
Letting the water gently sway with each breath, affirm, “I am…”
Allow any darkness to be illuminated by the gentle light and diffuse glow of the sun through the waters of your innermost self, affirm “I am…”
Embark on an unforgettable journey floating through your innermost self, your innermost ocean. Allow the current of your mind and thoughts to sway you for a moment gently. Allowing anything that comes up to be seen, acknowledged, and then carried away.
Bring your awareness back to your breath and affirm, “I am…”
Feed your ocean spirit, and take a moment to acknowledge the connectedness of all elements and beings to your innermost ocean.
Explore your inner paradise of peaceful power, take a deeper, longer breath, and affirm, “I am…”
Prepare yourself to return to shore. Breathe into your gradual resurfacing.
Visualize yourself floating to the shallows where the ocean meets the shore. Once you’ve arrived, visualize grounding your feet into the sand.
As you ground yourself, imagine the gentle pull of gravity as you emerge from the waters until you are back on shore.
Feel the energy of the sand and the ocean beneath your feet, carry that energy through your body during this final scan.
Bring the energy back up your legs, torso, and back.
Flow the energy up your arms, shoulders, and neck.
Feel the energy gently flood your face, the base of your neck, up to the crown of your head.
Take the slowest and deepest inhale that you can through your nose, and hold your breath for a moment.
As you exhale slowly through the mouth, affirm, with conviction, “I am…” and be in silence.
Your Deepest Ocean Meditation