On the 23rd June, Now Live Events take up residency at The Lounge for a week of events designed to stimulate your senses, bringing together some of the best local talent with a diverse line up including Britain’s leading lifestyle philosopher Roman Krznaric, local hero Simon Mole, the Chill Pill Collective, mindfulness expert Tessa Watt and Craftivist Collective.
Tell us a bit about yourself
My name is Jana Stefanovska. I am a 28 year old female, living in Peckham Rye, London. I have spent the last few years working in the arts, on everything from music gigs to literature festivals, both as an organiser and also as a programmer. My passion lies in working between arts and wellbeing and NOW Live Events has emerged from this interest – working between two worlds that have a lot to offer and learn from each other.
What inspired you to form NOW and where did your interest in mindfulness come from? NOW began – and always continues to be – an experiment. I have always had an interest in the idea of ‘carpe diem’ and savouring the moment. It’s such a brilliant catch twenty-two that we’re constantly experiencing – you’re here, now, but you’re so often elsewhere in your mind. So your day to day experience is one of not really being here, not really being in the now. I jumped head first into a ten day mindfulness course about four years ago – a friend had done it and came back a new person – and it was amazing to see life from a totally new angle. Mindfulness is not the answer to all of life’s problems, but it certainly gives you the clarity to see life in a new way. It empowers you to see where you are now so that you can move forward in a more positive light.
After doing a mindfulness course, it became clear to me that savouring the moment has many facets to it and focusing our attention on the present moment makes life fuller, fresher, more enjoyable and interesting. And that’s also what my experience of the arts is capable of doing, so they are very close in my mind. You don’t have to be sitting cross legged drinking herbal tea and holding finger cymbals to be mindful – it’s something you can do anytime, anywhere, in any way. That’s what makes it so exciting and practical for me; it’s a landing pad wherever you are, whatever you’re doing. It’s no surprise to me that people who have been prescribed the practice of mindfulness have found it just as – if not more – helpful than medication for treating anxiety and depression – having more awareness of the present moment really can transform your life.
The Independent refer to Now’s ‘unconventional artistic methods’… what can people expect from your residency at The Deptford Lounge?
All sorts! We are going to be offering everything from hand-sewing, craft, portraiture and sculpture to poetry, spoken word and even mindfulness flash mobs! All our artistic activities on offer are unconventional in their own way because they take something we may be familiar with – like, say writing – and put a new twist on it. Reframing everything so that you do it but with a focus on how the activity makes you more focused on the present moment. If we can practice that in every area of our lives, it gives you a spring board to start your future from, from a place of empowerment and focus rather than feeling lost, anxious or fuzzy (which so many of us do nowadays with the demands on us and our time). We are honoured to have more than 30 artists and participants creating events with us for our residency, all aiming to capture and savour the moment with the people of Deptford, thinking creatively about what it means to live in Deptford NOW.
What are you most looking forward to?
As always, I am looking to see how everyone interacts and engages with what we have on offer. As I said, this is an experiment in process – so we’re looking to find out how it works for people and what their experience is. So far we have had so much positive feedback and people saying that our events gave them one of the first experiences they have ever had of actually understanding what the present moment is through lived experience and an awareness that if they could access this through the arts – or any experience they choose – they felt they could become more focused, relaxed and enjoy life more. I hope we can create this in Deptford and much further afield! That’s the plan for the future…
And future plans?
Since this is our first community festival, we are looking forward to seeing how it goes in the community and hopefully branching out to other communities around London and beyond. We are developing ideas at the moment with festivals around the country and abroad (like Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert) alongside venues in London and the UK whilst continuing our events partnership with nationwide Psychologies Magazine which we’re really enjoying. My dream is that one day we will have NOW activities not just available in arts centres and festivals but also in schools or even hospitals – the scope is endless. If Ruby Wax (our NOW ambassador) can hold a mindfulness session in parliament like she did last month, then it feels to me like the sky’s the limit…
Watch this space…now!
NOW Live Events will be happening across the Lounge from Monday 23rd; most events are free.
Full programme & contributor profiles visit http://www.nowliveevents.org/deptford-lounge-2014-participants/