Engineering Human Connection: How “Being in the Now” Addresses the Loneliness Epidemic with Seth Bunting

Your morning train ride is packed wall-to-wall with a sea of people swaying to and fro, the white glow of phone screens illuminate faces as they madly swipe, click and text. The train is silent.

In a fast-paced world of constantly packed schedules and instant communication, authentic and meaningful human connection is hard to come by.

Enter Seth Bunting. Seth has made a life of creating outside-the-box, immersive atmospheres, and events that are conducive to connection. Using human loneliness as a roadmap, experiential designer and scalable live experience curator, Seth Bunting, walks us through the realities he creates where carefully designed physical spaces and experiences draw event participants out of their phones and into the present moment.

“People are seeking to come back into connection with each other and they don’t know how. We believe it’s possible to begin redesigning social spaces, physical and digital environments, the places we are interfacing with every day…how do we redesign all of that so that we have more connection with each other?”

We are living amidst the largest loneliness epidemic mankind has ever seen. Our current society values hyper-individualization and rewards self-reliance. From pop culture action figure icons touting the “I’ve got this”, solo warrior mentality capable of saving the world on their own to the self-help movement, guiding people towards the notion that all answers lie within themselves, a world where people need each other is not the story of the hour. The result– a lonely generation glued to their phones for a sense of belonging and connection. 

A nationwide survey of 20, 000 adults found that 54% of respondents said they feel “no one actually knows them well”, while 40% stated that their “relationships aren’t meaningful” and they feel “isolated from others”

Through his projects Presence and Equilibrium, Seth Bunting makes actionable change towards addressing what he sees as the two core concerns that inhibit meaningful human connection.

  • Human Connection
  • Presence

“Everything that we are creating for is just to drive people to states of being. The states that we hope to achieve are just to bring connection to each other.”

Seth creates alternate worlds for his experience attendees. The goal: to invite authenticity, play, vulnerability and an essence of magic into the mix. Using a technique called the deictic shift (the phenomena that occurs when you become consumed by the emotional journey of your beloved Grey’s Anatomy characters) he designs experiences where people become the lead character of their own story, interact with the world around them and connect with one another.

How to cultivate presence daily

Designate a time in your day to be tech-free

Set that timer for one hour, maybe even two or three and give yourself a well-deserved reprieve from the constant stimulation of your phone. If you walk and text, which most of us do,  it’s near impossible to be present with your surroundings, the people walking past you and the stunning bloom of spring around you. Unplug, unwind and look up!

Improvisational theatre (I know it can be scary…I dare you!)

Improv is the embodiment of the moment, off the cuff and unscripted exploration created completely spontaneously. We spend so much of our lives in our logical, thinking mind and activities like improv get you out of your head and into your body.

Eat a meal with no distractions! No book. No Music. No Phone.

Take this time in your day, the time you’ve set aside to nourish your body as a time to connect with yourself, your food and take a well-deserved break. Building a positive connection with your food means also being present with it while you’re eating it. Ever heard the phrase you are what you eat? The mindstate you are in when you eat influences how your body interacts with your food! You are far less likely to overeat and far more likely to enjoy your meal when you give it your undivided attention. 

Meditation

Introducing a regular meditation practice into your life offers a multitude of benefits from reductions in stress and anxiety to a more focused mind, less prone to distraction. If you’re a beginner and need some direction, consider signing up for a class at your local yoga studio.

Movement/Exercise in nature

Sweating and increasing your heart rate daily is the key to overall health and vitality. The combination of movement and being outdoors adds an extra level of nourishment to your practice.

Connect with your senses

Removing your shoes and getting your toes in the sand, grass or mud (oh I went there!) connects you with our beautiful earth. Close your eyes. Now: what does the ground below your feet feel like? Can you feel wind or moisture in the air? What does the air smell like? Turn your focus to your 5 senses and ask yourself to identify something you are detecting using with each – eyes closed!

Weekly Giveaway! One free ticket to the Equilibrium Event!

The Palace of Fine Arts, Sept 13-15th in San Fransisco

*Really interested? Send us an email and let us know why!

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Written by Olenka Toroshenko


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