Meditation and Violence: The Paradoxical Connection
Currently, I'm developing a prototype of a VR experience that seeks to combine Meditation and violence. Two things that seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. Which is part of the point of the experience. I started out looking to do something that was purely meditative and focused on breathing. However, I ended up thinking about the experience of playing Apex Legends and how focused it can make me- which led to the idea of trying to create tension between parasympathetic and sympathetic impulses. Which in turn creates an interesting problem for look dev and the world of the experience. Meditation is often associated with peace, tranquility, and mindfulness, while violence is typically linked to aggression, hostility, and conflict. However, closer examination reveals an intriguing relationship between the two. Historically, numerous cultures have developed meditative practices alongside martial skills.
Martial Arts and Meditation
Many martial arts have a strong focus on meditation as part of their practice. The relationship between meditation and martial arts is built on the idea that inner peace and focus can enhance one's physical abilities and mental fortitude. A classic example is the ancient Chinese practice of Tai Chi, which combines slow, deliberate movements with deep, meditative breathing to promote overall well-being and physical balance.
Similarly, the Japanese martial art of Aikido emphasizes the importance of mental harmony and spiritual development. It seeks to achieve a state of "unification of body and mind" through meditation and rigorous training. This focus on inner peace is thought to help practitioners to effectively defend themselves without resorting to unnecessary violence.
Zen Buddhism and the Samurai
The connection between meditation and violence becomes even more evident in the Japanese samurai culture. Zen Buddhism, a practice that emphasizes meditation and mindfulness, played a significant role in shaping the values and beliefs of the samurai class. The samurai were elite warriors who devoted themselves to a strict code of honor and discipline, known as Bushido. Zen meditation was a key component of their training, enabling them to achieve greater focus, clarity, and mental resilience during combat.
The Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism, in particular, provided the samurai with a spiritual framework for embracing the realities of war and death. Through meditation, the samurai were able to cultivate a sense of detachment from the material world, allowing them to face the inevitability of death with equanimity.
Meditation has served as a means of promoting discipline, focus, and inner peace, even within the context of violence and conflict. Given the history, I thought it would be fun to start by asking Midjourney to come up with some Samurai armor just as a jumping-off point for sculptures and 3D-look dev work. Armour is useful because it can look both human and exotic whilst requiring no facial animation or anything that would slow down a VR experience (particularly one which has a Tensorflow runtime and other things running alongside the character ai etc). Midjourney is a killer concepting app. It did these in a few minutes and I can use these shapes when sculpting. No idea where it'll take me, but a fantastic start. I love the fact that I get there faster- so that if I end up having to bin a direction, I've spent less time on it.