Whether it be a thoughtful walk with the sun dappling through the trees onto your skin, enjoying a piece of artwork in your local gallery, dancing at a festival, singing in a choir, or dedicating an hour a day to the withdrawal of the senses in mindful meditation, contemplative and reflective practices conjure up a plethora of possibilities and a multitude of meanings.
There is a certain ineffable ‘truth’ in the ‘beauty’ of these experiences. From life's bigger questions, such as “how did the world begin?”, to being swept away by a blissful melody or beautiful landscape, these experiences have the power to move us beyond rational knowledge and take us to a place of feeling. It is a deep and powerful place, yet not one necessarily visible to others or expressible through words.
Yet, conversely, art and symbols have also been described as a universal language; a powerful expression that transcends cultures and speaks directly to our common humanity. When we walk through a museum, for example, “time is transformed into space.” It is a touching reminder that we are not just atomistic clusters of individuals, we have a shared history and a collective identity. We can see things that others have seen and we can see ourselves from other perspectives. Perhaps these spaces, not only provide the opportunity for deep introspection at an individual level, but also provide the opportunity to explore complex problems at a collective level, helping us discover new ways of being and acting together as citizens of the world.
But how and why should we attend to these more ineffable experiences of life? In research and everyday practice, how do we recognise the magic in the mundane?
In this activity area we would like to explore the role of reflection in everyday life. From mindfulness in policy, to community choirs, to arts and heritage, we will be working with partners to create research projects around the theme “Reflect. Transcend".
We are looking for partners to collaborate on proposals for funding. Please get in touch if you would like to make use of our distributed ethnographic tool in your research.