At a time of global pandemic and ecological collapse, it is natural to find ourselves longing for accurate information and inspiration to guide wise actions that are both lifegiving and can heal the ills we acknowledge surround and ensnare us. According to Merriam-Webster, a person who is enlightened is one “freed from ignorance and misinformation.” So, therefore, an enlightened action would be one taken from such a state of mind and heart. Most likely agree that enlightened actions are sorely needed at this time, yet we need one another to become enlightened or free from ignorance about the complex causes of societal and ecological degradation which threaten our personal and community wellbeing.
In times of great change or struggle our ancestors relied upon collective arts and music making to heal both individuals and the community. And, prior to the global pandemic, many musicians, educators, and faith leaders have maintained and adapted collective arts practices as a means to enlighten and heal their communities. It is fitting then, to commence our blog series at a time when we have all faced a disruption to our habits and have been called to re-envision ways that we might connect and support one another towards enlightened actions.
On behalf of the International Network for Music, Spirituality, and Wellbeing, I would like to announce this new blog series intended to feature short descriptions of new and ongoing projects and initiatives that exemplify explorations in the arts set in contexts that can be seen to include a spiritual dimension, however defined. Specifically, we hope to share examples that may take place in educational, performative, ritual, and/or healing contexts that might be facilitated by musicians, music teachers, in collaboration with dance and movement specialists, theatre performers, teachers/academics, art/music therapists, as well as community and faith leaders.
The MSW Steering Committee is interested in sharing examples of enlightened actions because we see the value of the arts in wider community contexts and intend to explore new ideas and interrogate old ideas for their relevance to the wellbeing of the wider society, the cosmos, and the individual. By sharing examples of this work, we further our aim to understand the role and contribution of the arts to wellbeing in health, social care, arts organisations, educational contexts, religious traditions and in community settings. We also wish to explore examples that demonstrate wellbeing in the following four spheres – the individual body and mind, the natural world, human society, and the wider cosmos.
In the months ahead, members of the steering committee will share descriptions of projects that they are aware or involved; however, we are eager to learn about the enlightened actions you are leading or participating that involve music, spirituality, and wellbeing. In times of global pandemic, we realize that many initiatives may have been suspended or are being re-imagined. We are especially interested in the ways that you and your community have adapted your work to allow for social distancing or to support griefwork, the mental health stresses that come with isolation, or other relevant challenges. We also welcome descriptions of projects that are not adapted for social distancing but may inspire us for a time ahead when our communities are able to come together in person again. If you have a project you wish to be featured, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tawnya D. Smith
Member of the MSW Steering Committee