CNMN > Projects > Energy Matters Workshop (Part A): Embodied Listening to Energy Crisis

Shumaila Hemani

  • Voice
  • Acoustic instruments
  • Adults
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  • Community associations
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Energy Matters Workshop (Part A): Embodied Listening to Energy Crisis


Art caus­es peo­ple to ques­tion or con­sid­er their own beliefs, assump­tions, or val­ues. It can offer new pos­si­bil­i­ties, solu­tions, and alter­na­tives to cur­rent con­di­tions. Sound Arts enhance our capac­i­ty to notice the world in unusu­al ways. Art helps us to lis­ten bet­ter. There are many ben­e­fits of lis­ten­ing to the world deeply as it cul­ti­vates empa­thy, trust, inclu­sion, com­pas­sion, and more. Hilde­gaard West­erkamp, the pio­neer­ing sound­scape com­pos­er writes:

“Lis­ten­ing not only grounds us with­in our own inner world from which inspi­ra­tion springs, but most impor­tant­ly, it inspires new ideas, and new approach­es to study­ing the sound­scape, and it changes the qual­i­ty of sound­mak­ing, speak­ing and musi­cal expres­sion. Tak­ing the time to lis­ten goes against today’s 24/7 sta­tus quo of a hec­tic pace and stress, of rac­ing toward rich­es and suc­cess, of nev­er hav­ing time and always being impor­tant­ly busy. In this larg­er con­text, lis­ten­ing is a con­scious prac­tice in learn­ing to change our pace in a soci­ety dan­ger­ous­ly speed­ing out of con­trol. Out of that doing comes an entire­ly new expe­ri­en­tial knowl­edge.” (THE DISRUPTIVE NATURE OF LISTENING: TODAY, YESTERDAY, TOMORROW, p.47)

As part of my artist res­i­den­cy at FUTURES/Forward, the Inter­na­tion­al Cen­ter of Arts for Social Change (ICASC) fund­ed by the Cana­da Coun­cil for the Arts and the Met­calf Foun­da­tion and Tri­co Change­mak­ers Stu­dio at Mount Roy­al Uni­ver­si­ty fund­ed by the Cal­gary Arts Devel­op­ment, I part­nered with Alber­ta Ecotrust to apply my artis­tic prac­tice of deep lis­ten­ing and sound­scape com­po­si­tion to ini­ti­ate arts-inspired dia­logue on ener­gy affordability.

Ener­gy is an increas­ing con­cern for many Cana­di­ans; how­ev­er, speak­ing about (un)affordability con­tin­ues to hold the stig­ma amongst peo­ple who are expe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties pay­ing the ener­gy bills on the one hand and on the oth­er hand the issue is not pri­or­i­tized by new reg­u­la­tions for clean elec­tric­i­ty and Canada’s prompt tran­si­tion to net zero. In the series of com­mu­ni­ty-engaged arts work­shops, Ener­gy Mat­ters, we involved stake­hold­ers to address ques­tions such as: How vital is ener­gy afford­abil­i­ty in devel­op­ing #sus­tain­able #cities? How do cli­mate change and Canada’s tran­si­tion to Net­Ze­ro impact low-income groups strug­gling with ener­gy afford­abil­i­ty? Why must afford­able hous­ing inte­grate ener­gy affordability?

The activ­i­ties out­lined in this por­tal would be help­ful to any envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tion hold­ing a sim­i­lar kind of arts-inspired dia­logue on the cli­mate cri­sis, ener­gy jus­tice, and cli­mate jus­tice. The guid­ed med­i­ta­tion attached to this project would help prac­ti­tion­ers in cre­at­ing a safe and inclu­sive space where par­tic­i­pants could dis­cuss their work on ener­gy poverty.

1) Begin each work­shop by cre­at­ing a safe space that brings togeth­er the community’s under­stand­ing of what “safe space” means and how it would be nurtured.

2) Wel­come com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers into the space and prac­tice an activ­i­ty for ground­ing and cen­tring that helps indi­vid­u­als to over­come their resis­tance and nur­tures more open­ness. This can be done with a med­i­ta­tion that brings atten­tion to the breath and to the sen­so­ry stim­uli around or with a walk­ing meditation.

Here is an exam­ple of a guid­ed prac­tice and the attached score and video is an exam­ple of how it is con­duct­ed in a work­shop set­ting. See the score below for a down­load­able ver­sion. You can find audio exam­ples of sim­i­lar guid­ed med­i­ta­tion prac­tices for work­shops in the guid­ed med­i­ta­tion links below.


Walk­ing Med­i­ta­tion for Ground­ing and Lis­ten­ing to the Earth’s Pulse

Stand with feet about shoul­der-width apart. Shoul­ders relaxed, soles of the feet con­nect­ed to the earth, knees a lit­tle soft, palms at the sides. Eyes are in soft focus, see­ing everything.



Adopt a nat­ur­al stance. Bring your atten­tion to the soles of the feet. Imag­ine that you are grow­ing roots down into the earth. Let the roots be your anchor­ing to the earth.

Since the soles of the feet let the ener­gy of the body sink into the soles and roots. The knees are a lit­tle soft to pro­mote circulation.

Shoul­ders are relaxed. Palms of the hands relaxed.



Vis­it your heart and allow a very pleas­ant mem­o­ry to emerge.

Visu­al­ize and light up your spine trav­el­ling from the tip of the tail­bone, ver­te­bra by

ver­te­bra up into the skull.

Imag­ine a gold­en thread shoot­ing out of the crown of your head to a dis­tant star.

Imag­ine that the upper part of your body is float­ing sus­pend­ed from a star. Try to

bal­ance the feel­ing of the low­er body root­ed to the earth and the relaxed floating

sen­sa­tion of the upper body.

The chin is tucked under a bit to help align the spine.

Try to bring your body into this align­ment at dif­fer­ent times of the day whether you are

sit­ting, stand­ing or walking.



Now repeat this affir­ma­tion: With each step, I feel the earth hold­ing me, sup­port­ing me, sus­tain­ing me. I am simul­ta­ne­ous­ly slow­ing each breath.”

Thank you for join­ing me in this guid­ed practice.

*The words and phras­es in square brack­ets need not be said aloud. It is to help the guid­ed prac­ti­tion­er to pause as the med­i­ta­tion tran­si­tions from one phase into another.

  1. After this guid­ed med­i­ta­tion, the par­tic­i­pants can be engaged in ques­tions for reflec­tions on the jam board fol­lowed by activ­i­ties that engage them in an artis­tic activ­i­ty and a dia­logue per­tain­ing to ener­gy acces­si­bil­i­ty. For more details, please refer to part b) and part c) of this project.
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