It’s not everyday that you receive a phone call from the iconic Victoria and Albert Museum in London inviting you to deliver meditation in the museum at night as part of their prestigious learning programme. Did we want to design and deliver an introduction to mindfulness? You bet we did. In this week’s blog we reveal exactly what it’s like to practice Mindfulness in the V&A at night and just what happened when we spent a night at the museum.
Meditation in the V&A at Night
The Globe of the Europe Galleries
Meditation in the Museum at night was something that we just couldn’t say no to. When we found out that the sessions were to be held in the V&A’s brand new structure, the Globe of the Europe Galleries http://www.vam.ac.uk/blog/creating-new-europe-1600-1800-galleries/presenting-the-globe (see our pic) we were even more excited. The ‘Globe’ is a specially commissioned contemporary beech structure, designed by Los Carpinteros, an artistic collective from Cuba, representing a ‘room within a room.’ It seems apposite that the theme for the gallery is ‘enlightenment’ alongside a specification for the collective to create a space for pause and reflection. It was almost as though the Globe had been tailor made for our group and that’s just how fortunate we felt. As the Globe welcomed us each week with open arms, we set to work.
Walking into the Globe punctuated the transition from day to evening
There was something about walking into the structure each evening that punctuated the transition from day to night. The Globe is an amazing space, representing a physical distinction between the hurry, hustle, stress and chaos of a day in London and the beginning of an evening of contemplation.
A night at the museum
Each evening we walked together en masse through the galleries, past the empty cafe with their enormous, imposing chandeliers, extraordinary stained glass and ghostly silent echoes of conversations exchanged throughout the day. We proceeded between exhibits, grand glass cased costumes, sumptuous fabrics, feasting as we moved through on a rich visual tapestry of artefacts. Marble statues gazed on as we traversed the well worn corridors until reaching the Globe. We began with silent reflection, a deliberate leaving behind of the day. The silence of the museum echoed into the stillness of the Globe. We sat observing, listening, sitting with whatever came up. Every now and again interruptions from the busy streets of South Kensington beyond the museum broke the silence. A car horn, voices, laughter, all reminders of how extraordinarily lucky we were to be apart from all that was going on outside and still part of it at the same time. From time to time even the security guards would join in with the practice. It was a fantastic opportunity to introduce mindfulness, share ideas and learn from each other.
An insight into the V&A
The absence of additional visitors in the V&A at night provided a very different perspective on the building as well the exhibits it houses. Each week there was an opportunity to catch up with a pre course chat and refreshments surrounded by history. Our breaks were the perfect time to explore the museum, to really notice the exquisite detail of furniture, silverware and sculptures as well as the sheer volume of beautiful pieces that the museum is home to, so easily glossed over during the day in the rush to be somewhere else. The breaks afforded the chance to simply be.
As the months went by and the nights drew in, we even discovered that the museum’s ancient heating system was connected to the Natural History Museum over the road (another PCG client!). When the staff at the Natural History Museum went home after 5.30pm their heating also retired for the evening (probably in a smoking jacket and cravat, glass of port in hand) leaving the V&A somewhat cooler than we had all been used to. Scarvess, coats and pashmina’s redressed the balance and we were back to meditation. The best bit? We were invited back to do it all over again https://www.vam.ac.uk/event/r07dBRkZ/meditation-in-the-museum-2017 All in a night’s work at the museum.
Want to know more? We offer bespoke bitesize, half day, one day and 6 week mindfulness courses. Your wellbeing is important to us, that’s why we adhere to the UK Good Practice Guidelines and are on the UK Mindfulness Teachers register. We’ve also trained with Google’s Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute and delivered Mindfulness at work with a whole host of organisations ranging from UK Sport, the Natural History Museum, Spotify, Teenage Cancer Trust, Deloitte, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Ernst and Young amongst others. Gill, our senior course leader has trained with Bangor University, Oxford University and Aberdeen University to Masters level in mindfulness. If you’d like to know more get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org we’d love to talk to you.