What is the project?
Things aren’t always as they seem, and this is especially true about health. When people experience a sign or symptom that is strange to them, their inclination is to go to worst-case scenario, and after an hour on WebMD they are convinced they have the rarest form of lymphedema, when they could just have gas. From the Ancient Greek to the modern world, the interior of the body has represented a mysterious and often dangerous-appearing terrain, and this contributes to how large a health is can appear when we’re first encountering it.
I want to challenge this tendency with a small proposal. I want to suggest that this tendency is intimately related to the day-to-day awareness we have with our surroundings. From the moment we wake, we already have a hundred things demanding our attention, from family members, text and email alerts, the sounds of vehicles passing busily outside our homes, to the list of things we were unable to get done the day before. Every demand of our attention, our perceptive world gets smaller, and equally, we lose consciousness of our bodies. The more pressing an external phenomenon becomes, the fewer regions of our body will be able to attend.
One powerful way to reclaim this consciousness I’ve found is to practice recalling an event or memory. Only, instead of simply recalling something that happened, I like to focus on really establishing the place, the time of day, the sensations, and any objects within the place. First, I allow myself to recall the image. Usually, this involves people, sometimes a conflict. But then I take a deep breath and see if I can allow more of the image to come into my memory. My goal is to let go of the major drama or subject of the scene — let go of the people — and allow for other parts of the place to become apparent. The scene crystallizes because of some kind of memorable trauma. But, I sense that the body is healed by the context. The more context I can give to these events, the more they can digest in who I am.
“What is health?” is a response to the state of not only healthcare in the US, but the current models of defining wellbeing. Health is often only considered when it reaches emergency, and this is a fundamental issue that contributes to a widespread misunderstanding of the role of health across our lives. I want to demonstrate that disease is what is specific; and that health can look like anything.
What does this project hope to accomplish?
This project hopes to inspire others to consider environment as a key to healing. I want to inspire others to consider using visual writing to be a powerful form of medicine.
Why is this project important?
This project is important because it acts as a form of preventative health, the parameters of which are regularly set by and modified by the individual. The more I can practice awareness around what has happened, the more I am prepared to observe and accept what is happening. This project is important because it demonstrates a simple method in preventing the sensory overwhelm of modern life.
Who am I, and why am I doing this project?
My name is Joshua Warren, and I am a licensed acupuncturist in Washington, DC. In the last three years, I have administered alternative healthcare to a diverse demographic of people in the District, working with variable health concerns, from cancer and diabetes, the common cold to low back pain, to general stress and anxiety to annihilating grief.
My investment in my patients, my friends, family and community, consists of making wellbeing a central motivating factor in their lives.
If you have questions regarding the project or would like to contribute your own visual accounts, please contact me at:
A Personal Account example: