Fields of Study
As the name of her online portal Fields of Study suggests, the artist and meditation teacher Lauren Spencer King is a sum of many parts. Born in Belleville, Illinois to a family of artists, and now based in Los Angeles, Lauren has become a cherished resource for spiritual guidance, largely due to her multi-faceted approach that draws from an array of sources.
Rather than encouraging a focus on tuning the world out, Lauren’s meditation workshops, all easily accessible online, fosters a practice that allows each person to fall in and respond to their own unique experiences, thus enabling them to learn how not to be affected by those emotions when they arise. Breathwork is an especially key component to her method, as it helps release tensions and emotions that can cloud the body.
Lauren says, ‘ I create workshops [that] teach you to stay grounded in and connected to your body while the energies and emotions clear. It isn’t a meditation practice based on mindfulness or detached observation from the head, but instead is much more powerful because it cleanses your body of all these unnecessary energetic emotions. It’s the first step towards reconnecting you to your true self.’
Lauren’s approach incorporates ideas drawn from poetry, art, dance, music and writing, in addition to both modern and ancient practices about healing and science. Her subscription-based monthly newsletter, One 2 Three, touches on art, minerals and meditation and provides bite-size snippets of her philosophies, writing and creative outlook. ‘I believe that when a spiritual practice is visual, creative and thought-provoking, it is more effective,’ she says.
Not surprisingly, Lauren’s art practice is just as much a confluence of different interests. From making her own watercolours from ground-up mineral, semi precious stone and earth using historical method, with the belief that the paintings will hold the same healing properties of the stones which they originate from, to drawings of ancient burial tombs called dolmens, much of her work delves into examining the unknown – natural phenomena, the cosmos, energy and the ancient.
For her, art and spirituality are organically intertwined. ‘It feels a bit cheesy to say, but it's true - I came out of the womb an artist, and into a family of artists. It was something I knew I would dedicate my life to. After getting my masters in fine art, I needed to take a cerebral break, and a friend suggested I get certified in meditation. I did the training not thinking I would ever teach, until I found myself one day doing exactly that! During this time I was also a grief counselor for kids. I have always felt it is important to help others, and I think it's one of the things I am really good at, so both roles felt really natural.’
After six years of teaching and guiding students on cultivating their own meditation practices at home, Lauren began creating workshops online. She explains, ‘In LA, we are so oversaturated with this kind of work, but that's not the case in other parts of the world. I love that I have students in Bavaria, Hong Kong, Berlin - places that don't have a meditation class being offered on every corner. I feel there is a web across the globe of people who are connected through this work and that makes me very happy.’
What does wellness mean to you?
It’s pretty simple, it’s a matter of making sure you are tending to your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. And this looks different for every person, and changes and evolves as we do. It’s not a goal to reach. It doesn’t have to involve adaptogens or juicing. But it does include being human and not being perfect. It is about including all parts of ourselves - healthy and unhealthy, well and unwell, balanced and out of balance - and taking responsibility for ourselves and our lives. When we include everything and aren’t afraid to look at all parts of ourselves, we can truly be whole.
What are some of your cherished daily/weekly/monthly rituals?
Daily - I love making breakfast. Weekly – I spend Monday’s at the Getty Research Institute Library. I am researching a glass sculpture I am having made for an upcoming show, and am also working on a syllabus for a class I want to teach about the spiritual in art. Monthly - bang trims (I’m kidding, but not really. A good haircut can change your outlook on life.)
Walk us through your morning ritual and how that sets you up for the day.
I try to get up right away, drink lots of water, eat breakfast and then take a walk. I will catch up with a friend on the phone or listen to The Daily while I walk the hills. I go to the studio and work until lunch. I find that if I prioritize what is most important to me and do it first thing it helps my entire day.
How does this compare with how you end each day?
I have never been a bath person, but in the last four or five months I have been taking baths before bed. It helps my body relax and warms me up. Bathing can be very sensual and tender. I also cherish being able to climb into bed and fall asleep with the man I love.
What is your preferred mode of exercise and why?
Swimming is by far my favorite. I have been swimming since I was a kid. When I was young it gave me so much confidence in myself and my body. I feel strong, lean, and at ease when I swim.
Do you believe in supplements?
I do. But, only in ones from my doctor. Everyone’s body is different and I think we should empower ourselves with real knowledge from qualified healthcare professionals about our own health and body, how to support it and bring it to its optimal state of being.
How does your work reflect your outlook on life?
My paintings involve a lot of patience. They aren’t about achieving a certain kind of likeness or perfection, but rather a seeking of understanding. I always want to know more, go deeper.
If you're feeling down or stressed, what's your surefire pick-me-up?
Walking. I truly think walking can change your life. I am someone who can get in my head, become frozen, or get lost in daydreaming. I have to counteract this by talking and action. And that action is often taking a walk. Moving gets me out of my head and into my body, and there is a deeper wisdom in our body than in our head.
What’s one thing can't you live without?
Laughter. I love having a good laugh. I also love making others laugh more than anything! I have a very self-deprecating and dry sense of humor. It has gotten me through some very tough times in my life.
How do you regulate being on your phone?
I try to do more things in the day that feel engaging and fulfilling, like spending time with people and really being focused on listening when I am with them, reading, being in the studio, being outside, looking at more art in person, less multitasking, people watching when I am out or waiting in line. I find that when I am really connecting to where I am, who I’m with, and what I am doing I don’t care about my phone.
What are some of the biggest issues on your mind today?
How to be healthy in relationships.
What aspect of wellness do you think people should talk more about?
I feel a lot of aspects of wellness have the good intention to connect you more to yourself, but they actually end up leading you further away (without you knowing). For example, people think that because they are in touch with their emotions, it means they are in the self. But there is often a bigger truth under all of that emotion, and that’s where I lead [individuals] in the work that I do. It is only through being able to hold your experience and go through it that we get to the other side of it, to a bigger part of ourselves.
I think not only are people not supported to do this, no one is teaching people how to sustain what they are feeling long enough to have any kind of breakthrough. Sometimes people seek wellness practices to help them get through it, and it actually ends up popping them out of what they need to go through, which ensures that they never get to the other side. It ends up disempowering them. I see this all the time, and no one knows they are doing it.
I know everyone has the best intentions, so it’s no ones fault. But, the problem is it just reinforces a dynamic that keeps people away from their power. There is power in moving through our feelings to the other side. That’s when emotions become wisdom.
Lauren’s next show opens at Big Picture Los Angeles on 22 June.
Words: Pei-Ru Keh
Photography: Claire Cottrell