Listening Body-Minds and Ecological Practice: Prerequisites of Regenerative Culture

Maybe I will start out with a statement that eventually will feel provocative, especially with regards to a situation of social and ecological emergency. Here it is: I believe that the greatest gift we can offer to each other, as well as to mountains and rivers, is to be truly present. Adequate action will emerge.

Naturally, this statement will trigger one or the other response.

I think the central aspect to me would be to clarify what I mean by being truly present. And this is hard to put into words, or let’s say I find it tricky to express it verbally. To my understanding it has to be experienced to be known.

This is why I began to propose workshop situations. I called the approach a contemplative art approach, since what I intended to convey was to be found in Eastern artistic practices. Sure enough, I later found out that the name had already been established via the Tibetan Lama Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

What I propose in the context of Contemplative Arts is a space for investigation, for training and inquiry, using meditation and the arts as facilitators for insight and discovery, as much as for the sensitization of the body-mind.

Performative and fine arts are being given a distinct context and objective.

Approaching an artistic practice (or any practice) as a contemplative artform trains and cultivates an openness of mind and heart, an understanding of ‘not intending, not knowing’.
In other words: it fosters the recognition of a non-biased state, an awareness before and beyond thought — a state of being truly present.
One might also say that it tunes us to the mystery that is life.
In that, this approach offers, to my understanding, a vital, complementary realm to a mindset based on agency and intent. It also shifts the focus from product to process.

Engaging in such contemplative practice emphasizes the awareness of space, of being.
It introduces the timeless dimension of direct, momentary experience, and by doing so, it opens and widens the field of recognition, inviting subtleties and sensations that usually are being filtered out, labeled or judged in a certain way. And it does so as well in regards to kin and environments of all kind.

In general, culturally, unconditional witnessing and open awareness is a realm we are not used to.
Yet, as the great Tibetan poet Milarepa has put it: ‘The notion of emptiness engenders compassion’, just as it reveals the wisdom and adequate responsiveness that resides inside us.

Consequently, such a training and practice may provide a centering and new perspective on these times, on time in general, and also on our way of being in the world, our habit of asking questions and accumulating knowledge, and our being used to a constant immersion in activity and thought.

In my experience, the knowledge of meditation, of improvisation in the arts, the non-verbal communication that is possible in some forms of dance, and also the alert and mindful immersion into the natural world, may facilitate a process that generates empathy and well-being, a sense for reverence and mystery, for interspecies ethics and ecological practice — all of which I regard as basics for a regenerative culture.

I see these practices as an invitation to let natural intelligence express itself.
In other words: to learn again how how to keep quiet and allow tuning in to take place, how to listen and how to respond.

I hope I could outline in what way this approach and practice may be of benefit for the individual, as for the process of navigation and cultural transformation in this challenging time, and I would like to promote it as a complementary practice, on a personal level, as well as in the context of knowledge transfer and academia.