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July 21, 2020

How Embodiment and Virtual Reality Creates Presence

Welcome to Building New Realities – the seventh episode of Future Visual’s bi-monthly podcast. This week my guest is Rachel Blackman, actor, improvisor, theatre maker, somatic educator and embodiment trainer and coach and creativity mentor.

Rachel is a trainer on the Embodied Faciliator Course (EFC) since 2013, a program for coaches and trainers to learn to work with the intelligence of the body. She is also a lead trainer at The Somatic School where she trains coaches to work with the body via theatre training tools and improvisation and runs online Somatic Coaching sessions.

She also works as an embodiment trainer within Arts Organisations, businesses and consultancies throughout the UK and Europe, developing presence in their leadership teams. DPA and FizzPopBang being her most recent clients.

Rachel’s new show is Tiny Failures. You may remember her with a shaved head and double barrelled bazooka as Chara in Matrix Revolutions.

I talked with Rachel about the synergy between VR and embodiment and her work with Feldenkrais, inhabiting different states of being, neuroplasticity and the unravelling of habitual patterns. Can you achieve it if you can’t imagine it? Tune in to find out…..

Notes on Episode 7: In conversation with Rachel Blackman.

Actor training requires the practitioner to be able to change state quickly – this is something we can achieve through the use of VR, delivering faster routes to state experience.

Embodiment is the study of how we do what we do and observing to oneself  “how am i doing what I’m doing?” This study allows us to develop the qualities of ways of being, the most famous technique being “The Method” where practitioners are encouraged to “live” the role or find the shape of the role. 

When Rachel trained for the role of a military operative in the film “The Matrix Revolutions” she was put through a rigorous training programme for 6 months that allowed her to understand and inhabit the “shape” of the role and by the time she was finished she could move and have an insight into the mindset of an elite level soldier.

In Rachel’s email signature she describes herself as an Somanaut, Somatic training is the study of the felt sense on the body –  it is the exploration or science of the body’s movement. Martial arts and performing arts are a great example of somatic training. Breathing can also be recognised as a key component of the overall Somatic system and we become somatically active when we bring our attention to the breath.

Somatic enquiry is the opposite of objectification culture. Objectification culture being the view that says “you should look like this if you want to be successful”  or “you need this car”. 

Breathing is the quickest way to get someone to feel embodiment and step out of the limits of our persona.

A cross-over between somatic embodiment and virtual reality presence is the activation of the sensory motor-cortex. In Feldenkrais method you can practice doing a movement by running through it in your mind and imagining it – this is an interesting intersection between the perceived sense of movement experienced in immersive environments versus imagining a movement – it all points towards the flexibility and power of the neuro-plasticity of the mind.

Read more about Rachel’s somatic practice Vibrant Body.

Online monthly classes: Embodied Enquiry Series

Feldenkrais At Home Fortnightly Monday classes: Morning / Evening

Rachel’s creative practice: www.tinyfailures.com

Book recommendations 

When the Body Says No: the Cost Of Hidden Stress – Dr. Gabor Mate

The Brain’s Way Of Healing: Remarkable Discoveries and Recoveries from the Frontiers of Neuroplasticity – Dr. Norman Doidge 

Beautiful Practice: An whole-life approach to health, performance and the human predicament – Frank Forensich 

Social media cut out

Instagram @rachblakers @stillpointuk

Tiny Failures website

The Museum of Tiny Failures – Facebook Group

The Cathedral of Fragile Hopes and Good Intentions – Facebook Group

Building New Realities is published every 2 weeks on: 

Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify and Apple Podcasts

Building New Realities Episode 6 was presented by Tim Fleming, Founder of Future Visual, the award winning VR & AR company. Future Visual helps teams achieve faster routes to competency at a reduced risk withVR & AR training solutions. Ground breaking immersive experiences delivering ROI. Future Visual’sVR collaboration tool VISIONxR™ extends your workplace to join remote VR team meetings from remote global locations to collaborate and learn, enhancing high value productivity.

To get in touch to discuss your next project contact us here: https://www.futurevisual.com/contact/