Mindfulness and Museums

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February 15, 2015 by evelynso

A shout out to Alli Burness, a museum writer and content creator, for her excellent post “Reacting to Objects: Mindfulness, Tech and Emotions“.

Cornelius Krieghoff, Breaking up of a Country Ball in Canada, Early Morning (The Morning after a Merrymaking in Lower Canada) 1857, ago.net

Clearing my mind of the surroundings and ignoring interpretation, I focus on the image, the physicality of an object and listen to how I react emotionally. Mindfulness has been a useful way to hear my emotions talking to objects in busy museum spaces. It’s let me identify objects I feel connected to in huge collections; it’s one method to navigate an ocean of images, not all of which I’m capable of connecting with.

It’s like she read my mind, knew my history, and fresh-pressed it just for me 🙂

Mindfulness is very much on my mind these days. In fact, my doctor has referred me to join a Mindfulness Meditation Therapy programme to better manage my stress, the culprit behind some severe health symptoms.

Pilates is my go-to for retraining my breathing which has been in shallow, flight-or-fight mode probably throughout my waking hours till self-observation kicked in. The demand of Contrology (as Pilates was original called) means mindfulness of both my mind and body must be in high gear to master the movements.

Another mindfulness exercise we should all practise is Mindful Eating. For me, it is the pivotal key to my eating disorder; for people without such issue, it’s still an excellent habit for good digestion and table manners.

So now you should see why I feel that this post on “experiencing the museum’ is a deliciously timely tip to further my mindfulness training, extending it into a place – museum – that I already adore.

I’m learning to see differently, rediscovering how my subjectivity and emotions can have a role in my museum experience.  When researching later, I’ve found the emotions I feel when looking are rarely at odds with the story or meaning these objects are widely accepted to have. In fact, the emotions join hands with the meaning and both ring out louder. I’ve felt more deeply connected to these objects. I wonder if museums design exhibitions to allow a valuable experience to be had if the labels are ignored or read?

I am also grateful that someone (an expert no less) can so aptly describe how I’ve been sensing all these years, of being distracted from appreciating the objects or genuinely connecting with and responding to them, because I felt the need to read and learn at the same time.

Off to the museum it is. Happy!!!!!

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One thought on “Mindfulness and Museums

  1. I really relate to your post on the importance of Mindfulness especially mindful eating. As someone who has had an eating disorder for over 30 years it is vitally important that I always sit down to eat, eat relatively slowly and savour my food. Thus my stomach and brain know I have eaten and do not need to eat anything else until my next meal. Although I have not been trained to practise mindfulness (I do want to do a course this year) I do zoom in in museums to exhibits that particularly interest me and can sift through the thousands of images to find those that have specific meaning for me.

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