What am I doing here?

bar Freyja Sewell, image credit Carol Sachs for London Design Museum copy

Hi, my name in Freyja, for many years now I have been fascinated and inspired by the concepts of mindfulness and transience. Much of my work as a designer has been concerned with facilitating reflection and sensory concentration in our increasely distracting and hectic world.

In September 2014 I moved to Tokyo as a Daiwa Scholar, this provided me with a unique opportunity, a clean slate, a chance to re-design my mind far away from the distractions and attractions of my life back in London.

I embarked on a personal experiment. Mindfulness is a simple, scientifically-proven way to bring our mind back to our body, become aware of what is happening in our present experience and connect with happiness, joy and freedom. I spent the next 19 months (the length of the scholarship) exploring these and other related ideologies, for example Shinto and Tea Ceremony. I am particularly interested in the objects and spaces that I came across during my investigation. I attempted to re-design my mind and my life, to bring mindfulness and meditation into my everyday landscape.

My time in Japan was incredibly fruitful, and has had a huge effect on my practise, both as a designer and meditator. This experience is in no way over, rather it served as a beginning to what I now understand will be a life long journey to, and I use this word with respect and in some way trepidation for what it will mean to others, enlightenment.

This blog is a record of this voyage, welcome.

4 thoughts on “What am I doing here?”

  1. Dearest Freyja, Congratulations!!!! what a wonderful opportunity in which to practice mindfulness. If you need any assistance with any projects remember me. So enjoyed working with you on the last one.
    ENJOY, find PEACE and practice being PRESENT, and of course all with joy and happiness!!! So look forward to what material substance transpires out of this journey, BE the journey!


  2. soniafriel says:

    Hi Freya, I thought I’d leave a little note to say hi! I’m one of the Daiwa scholars coming out to Tokyo in September and was just looking through your blog and saw you were interested in mindfulness. It just so happens that I have a regular (almost daily) meditation practice and currently assist teaching in classes on Buddhism and on Meditation. I predominantly do Mindfulness of Breathing and Metta Bahavana (loving-kindness) meditations, but I’ve also done Jon Kabat Zinn’s full Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which includes loads of other great mindfulness practices. I’ve also done a bit of study into mindfulness from a Buddhist perspective, predominantly through regular classes and groups and the centre that I help out in.

    If you’d ever be interested to chat about mindfulness or meditation (or indeed other things!) either during the next few months or while I’m in Tokyo that would be awesome. I’ve found a couple of Zen centres I want to try out and a retreat centre near Kyoto for a week-long retreat, but it would be great to hear more about what you’ve discovered out there. I’d also really recommend staying in a temple in Koyasan, if you haven’t already, if you fancy exploring meditation from a Shingon perspective (very different, but amazing). I’m still relatively new to meditation and mindfulness myself, so it would be great to share our experiences with it all at some point if you’re up for it. Hope Daiwa and Tokyo are treating you well!! Take care, Sonia x

    P.S. Your blog is beautiful – love the photographs!


    • Dear Sonia

      Sounds great! I’m so looking forward to discussing this with you once you get our here.

      I stayed in Koyasan, it was a wonderful experience, so you also did this on a previous visit?


  3. soniafriel says:

    Hi Freyja, I did indeed! I stayed at Muryōkoin for a few days back in 2012 and it was incredible – I’d love to go back. It would be great to chat more about all this once I’m out in Tokyo – am looking forward to it, too. Until then, hope all goes well! Sonia x
    P.S. I’m so sorry I misspelled your name in my previous post. I noticed as soon as I posted it, but wasn’t able to edit the post.


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