Monkeys and Meditation

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Lecture in class on Thursday was a very interesting and meditative experience for me. With the craziness of finals ahead of us, and deadlines for projects within sight, I was very stressed walking into class with a head full of worry and anxiety. But after Dr. Deborah Forester’s exercise on Awareness-Through-Movement, I felt awakened and almost realigned from within. I think the act of forcing ourselves to really think about what were feeling in our bodies is meditative and makes you more aware of how your body is positioned and how that in turn affects you emotionally.

Something that also struck me as important is the act of focusing thought, then relaxing/diffusing thought, and repeating the cycle over and over. This is a good exercise because it teaches you how to relax, de-stress but also focus effectively. This might seem like a simple concept, but it is not always so simple to actually do! Many people can’t de-stress from a situation and carry it around with them all the time. If we were taught to do this starting from childhood, I’m almost positive most people would have an easier time dealing with stressful situations.

I also enjoyed Dr. Adam Burgasser’s physics gestures. I don’t know anything about physics but I did find that the first exercise we did could also be found in biological chain reactions. It was interesting to see how quickly a small gesture could spread through the class.

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Rachel Mayeri’s filmmaking of Primate Cinema was also very fascinating. It was originally intended to be a film for primates to watch with human actors dressed up like them; however in the end the film turned out to be more for human audiences. I found it intriguing (and funny) when one of the chimpanzees tapped the TV screen to see if it would react to him. I was wondering if he was testing a reaction from the actual TV itself or if the actors on the screen would react to the rapping and if they were actually there. Watching Baboons as Friends opened my eyes to the complex social structure and rules that baboons have and how humans have similar ones and similar (or even the same) emotions as well. Males get defensive when other male baboons are interested in the same female baboon. This leads the male baboons to display their strength and power to each other to show who deserves her. This no doubt happens in human society as well. I also thought it was a very smart decision to show human actors enacting the baboons actions at the same time.

Overall, I thought it was a very fun and enjoyable class that contained a lot of thought provoking and engaging material.

– Alice Musher

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-johnson/tibetan-buddhist-teaching_b_5353998.html

http://www.rachelmayeri.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/mayeri_baboon_hires-600×205.jpg

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