What comes to mind when you think of the mind? Is the mind the brain? The thoughts? A formless entity? Safe to say, it’s complicated and can’t be explained by any one person as it means something different to each of us. The speakers at last month’s music, art, and storytelling event – What Does Not RAW, gave us an insight into what it means to each. If there’s one key takeaway, it’s that the mind cannot be defined, not by fear of failure or self-compassion, or a journey of unlearning; simply because the mind is constantly adapting, changing, and protecting us as we travel through our hectic lives.
Inside the Mind
What turns you on? What gets your neurons firing? Did you know that the reason some people have foot fetishes is because the neurons that fire when thinking about feet are next to your neurons for ‘down there’? No? We neither. (More on that here.) Well, if you came along to the October WDN RAW at Brixton Studio, Soho House, you certainly got your fix of the mind.
Starting out at the gooey dopamine station, bathed in cosy red light and sugar to suck on, you could sink into the velvet couch while being hypnotised by the trippy psychedelic visuals by Housecat Studio playing on a loop. Although this sounds a lot like a night on LSD, it’s because we designed the experience to play with all your senses and fire up those information messengers in your brain.
Before our speakers delved into their personal experiences of their minds, thoughts, and deep-rooted hardwiring have helped, hindered, and sculpted their lives, the mind was kept occupied, taking in the hanging exhibition, Mind Made Manifest, curated by Vasiliki. It asked the question ‘what births creative genius?’ and showcased artists who were influenced by the nuances behind the workings of the mind.
“From painting to acting, writing, dance, and songwriting, the pain of human experience is often what drives people to create – as a way to make sense of the world. Explore the demons, inner struggles, and alternative perspectives that gave rise to our chosen artists’ work.”
Humans are creatures of habit, ritual and uniformity and there was a clear path here for our minds to wander through stages of idleness and awe. Another common theme amongst humans, especially in modern times is our inability to focus. Nestled in the corner of the room, our resident artist, Luke Gray, worked on a live mural the entire evening. If your eyes needed to wander or you got lost in thought, it was a welcome point to settle on and watch him work on his piece.
Blow your mind.
Kicking off the night, Hannah, our host and previous WDN RAW speaker, led us through a poetic power punch to anyone who ever told you to ‘smile, honey!’ Things could be worse!’ As if any one of us can ever truly know what is going on in someone’s life to comment on their ideal facial expression. Listening to our speakers, we heard some comforting home truths like how not everything we learn as children needs to dictate our adult lives and that we have the power to rewrite our neural pathways to live a more authentic and meaningful life. We learned that no amount of spiritual bypassing can show you the meaning of life, and that sometimes the meaning comes from deep within yourself, true compassion for others and the world around us, comes from within.
As if you weren’t already pencilling into your diary a day for pamper and self-care, journaling and positive affirmations, tying up our evening, our last speaker reminded us that no amount of anxiety and fear of failure should stop you from doing that thing that scares you. Sometimes it is your mind that is your greatest enemy and can hold you back from that thing that seems SO big! but is, in fact, a little underwhelming when you look back on it… the woman literally walked on fire so we will take her word for it.
Mind your own business.
Our storytellers were deep and passionate, with some things being scary to even hear. While we try to encourage our storytellers to be true, compassionate, and RAW, in the space only the speaker knows their inner truth. In many ways the safe space that this night creates allowed for our speakers to really reflect and for us listening to be their mirrors. Life is like that in a funny way, isn’t it?
We have our internal self and the self we put out to the world, but when you find that one person, thing, or group that you can truly open and share a glimpse of your own mind with, we are often met with the very same emotions, experiences and thoughts mirrored right back to us. We have more in common than we have differences. It turns out we’re not so different, you and I.