DECEMBER 2018:

NEW EDGE magazine

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SENSORY SANCTUARIES
ON THE POLLUTION OF MENTAL AND PHYSICAL SPACE
City life means being surrounded by wifi signals, the IoT, mobile networks, high-tech, chemicals, public transport, cars, factories, cel phone towers, and electromagnetic radiation. Human body becomes a waste storage for toxins, by enduring all the electro smog, noise pollution, indoor and outdoor air pollution. It's hard to recall what nature feels like, and what true relaxation really means. We experience muscle tenseness, shallow breathing, brain-fog, signs of psychosomatic diseases (showing symptoms with no actual physical cause). With the sensory pollutants affecting the body, perception, behavior and endocrinology, our minds become cluttered and unclear. Consequently it's harder to get in touch with the inner self, or feel empathy and compassion towards another living being.
Humanity is becoming more desensualized and desensitized, and our daily ecosystems being full of noise, air and data pollution is adding to the list of reasons why.
 
Humans are sensory beings and understand the world through their living bodies, which should be  nurtured through pleasant sensory conditions. How to create environments where sensory conditions can't interfere with our multimodal perception, and where we can bridge the gap between humans and nature? Urban planning initiatives aim to embed noise and wi-fi free spots within the city fabric. These type of projects warn about the effects of noise and EM pollution on our mental and physical health (some claim that it's effects are far worse than air pollution). Music and sound therapy prove to be very beneficial for the general human condition, while noise is deeply harming. By creating quiet urban spots, close to offices and homes, these could
provide some rest for our bodies and mind, aiding to maintain the public mental health. Home environments are just as polluted as the urban city ecosystem. There's cellphone radiation, dirty electricity coming from walls and badly isolated wires, personal technologies, wifi signals, and noise pollution leaking in from the city. Pollution seems unavoidable. In Germany and Sweden they officially recognize a medical condition called electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which describes a set of health symptoms caused by electromagnetic radiation. The symptoms include insomnia, heart palpitations, headaches, and sometimes the patient is entirely disabled by the condition. These patients usually seek to live far away from city life, electricity and wi-fi signals. In USA, the only EM, wi-fi and radio wave free spot is called The green bank in West Virginia, and has become an escape for people who claim to be electrosensitive. The area is highly monitored and controlled to keep out all electromagnetic radiation. But for those electrosensitives who wish to stay in the city, there is a large market online offering products that shield from EMR, ranging from body suits, helmets, to special cages for routers, and large fabrics.

 
While some banish all tech to create their sensory home sanctuaries, some build intelligent environments with sensory technologies. Technology innovations are reaching into the field of human emotions and senses. New immersive experiences aim to impact us
emotionally through touch, sight, smell and sound. They also aim to diminish side effects of acoustic noise, artificial light and chemical substances, and positively affect people and nature. There's a new empathic reality opening up in the field of virtual and augmented
realities, creating new possibilities for bridging the mind-body separation. Sensory technology for therapeutic purposes employs elements of sound, music, light and touch therapies. They offer to create healing sensory sanctuaries, often by recreating conditions
we experience in nature.
 
The world is experienced as a multi-sensory inner movie. To find new ways for empathic coexistence in our everyday human-tech playground, we need to find ways how to create (personal and collective) sensory sanctuaries for bridging the gap between humans and (inner) nature. We need to restore our mental health, damaged by sensory pollution. The resources on digital detox strategies and zen techniques are vast, advising on how to channel all excess toxic energy away from our mental, physical, emotional bodies.
Meditate the effects of pollution away, by releasing all psychological waste that has been accumulating at the bottom of your psyche for years. Find a silent place within the city, where the effects of pollution are minimal, and retreat there often. There is a smartphone
app called Hush City, that allows you to do just that. Your body and mind are more than waste bags for toxins. Sensualizing the humanity and creating empathic experiences, which happen through and because of our living bodies, is the radical step towards global healing.