Q&A with Jobi Manson:
Founder of Sēfari
Jobi Manson is a California-based visual artist, explorer and the founder of Sēfari — an experiential platform merging science, nature and art to encourage self-discovery. At its center are guided water healing rituals in awe-inspiring natural settings (i.e. paddle boards in the depths of the Pacific Ocean). Sēfari now also includes a novel healing modality in the digital realm, launching at MacArthur Place this Spring. Through our “Bathe in Nature” Immersion, guests can experience a multi-sensory guided bath journey that stimulates a deep connection with the natural world.
We sat down with Jobi to learn more about the benefits of bath immersions, her path to creating Sēfari, and her tips on turning a bath from routine to ritual (hint: it includes a special playlist).
You are a visual artist and sculptor working in the mediums of water, light, sound, and stone. What inspired you to parlay your artistic practice into a water healing modality?
My artistic practice orbits around a singular desire — to explore the beauty & complexity of connection as a transhumance experience.
I believe that you can tell so much about an artist in the materials they choose and for as long as I can remember, water has always been my muse. I am mystified by its capacity to illuminate the underlying nature of its surroundings — it is the element that brings everything to life.
Creatively speaking, this organic compound is imbued with the wonder and wealth of life’s secrets and in that sense it is the ultimate supportive agent to facilitate a process of regeneration. My hope with Sēfari is to share the power of pleasurable & embodied connection that naturally emerges when we allow ourselves to sink into nature.
What is the origin of Sēfari — both in terms of the word’s etymology and your own personal and professional path to birthing this entirely new approach to holistic wellness?
I love to play with language. The word Safari comes from the Arabic word “Safar” meaning to journey. Sēfari is a word I created to symbolize the ritual of journeying inside of self, inside of water.
From its inception in 2015, Sēfari has moved me in unimaginable ways. I don’t believe that my approach to holistic wellness is particularly new, in fact I would argue the opposite — Sēfari draws its origins from ancient cultural rebirthing practices, used to purify mind, body, and spirit.
Sēfari aims to “quiet the mind, soften the heart, and strengthen the body.” How do you harness the power of earth’s most abundant molecule, H20 that is, to achieve this triumvirate of effects?
In describing the different tenants of my practice, I distill it simply by sharing:
The Water holds us –
So that the sound can guide us
and in the space between, we begin to harmonize. Our bodies can attune themselves and come into a kind of rhythm. This process is a natural byproduct of what is possible when we return to nature. I like to think of it as a neutralization of the nervous system, through elemental meditation.
Your practice is founded on the notion that bathing (literally and metaphorically) in nature is key to our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. How did you so deftly translate this sensory experience into the digital realm?
As I read this aloud to myself, a voice within laughed and said: “with a great amount of difficulty.” In truth, the translation of Sēfari, into a digital offering evolved in response to the global lockdowns ushered in by COVID-19. This pivot was initiated when a friend requested my participation in virtual programming designed to support communal mental health during this period. I remember being on a call with her, listening as she described the intention & goals for each offering, and thinking “how the hell am I going to translate what happens out in the Ocean, on Sēfari into a Zoom room?!”
And just as that thought reverberated in my mind, so too did the answer to my predicament — the bathtub.
The bathtub would become my sanctuary. Over the course of that year, this simplification of sorts lit up my world in the most unexpected way. The containment of this ritual provided me a very different kind of environment to play with — and the safety of the bathtub versus open ocean afforded me the opportunity to innovate my technique, layering it with light & sound in new and imaginative ways.
What are the scientific benefits of a ritual immersion, or water x sound?
Sēfari immersions harness the power of nature to help you shift your state. Our practice is designed to guide you through elemental meditation journeys that trigger the body’s natural relaxation response by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system. This technique leverages the power of water x sound to accelerate your body’s ability to shift into its natural rhythm, helping to support the cultivation of coherence & somatic connection.
Coherence is when your heart, mind and emotions are in complete alignment and cooperation. Through repetition, Sēfari can help you create new baselines of resilience in the nervous system, reduce the effects of stress on the mind & body, and enhance your sense of resilience & connection to the natural world. These are the short and long term benefits that begin to emerge through repetition and consistency:
- Enhances circulation by lowering and regulating blood pressure
- Reduces physical stressors on the body
- Activates the Parasympathetic Branch & synchronizes activity of the Autonomic Nervous System
- Harmonizes HRV (Heart Rate Variability)
- Increases blood flow to the lungs
- Primes the body for deep sleep
COGNITIVE / PSYCHOLOGICAL
- Engages brain’s default network, a blue mind state: restful involuntary attention
- Harmonizes neural activity
- Improves cognition, creativity, working memory
- Enriched fluid environment stimulates neuroplasticity
- Engages imagination & stimulates intuitive connection
- Fosters a deep sense of pleasurable embodiment
- Awakens feelings of aliveness & access to one’s vitality
- Releases chronic fears & anxieties
- Harmonizes one’s inner & outer landscape
- Inspires a playful, resilient, and curious spirit
- Offers the capacity to embrace the depth of the unknown self
You are a self-proclaimed “explorer,” which can only mean exciting things are on the horizon! What’s next for you in terms of life experiences, travel, milestones?
At present, I am responding to these questions at an altitude of 20,000 ft en route to the southernmost region of Mexico, the state of Chiapas. Drawn to this landscape, by the allure of its mythic Mayan jungles, cascading cerulean waterfalls, and to a particular geological formation known as, “El Arco del Tiempo”.
Over 80 million years old, El Arco is a 180-meter high natural stone arch, one of the largest in the world of its kind, located in the La Venta de Cintalapa river canyon. The canyon is an 80-kilometer long ravine with walls up to 400 meters high — Inside El Arco you can find caves, waterfalls, and rare fauna only present in this region.
Recently, I have been exploring what it means to receive deep time with soft hands — a means of listening with my body, expanding an awareness of the powers of touch. For me, this pilgrimage marks the dawn of my 35th birthday and the adventure of a lifetime, a moment where my dreams spring to life.
For those who don’t get to experience your guided bath immersion at MacArthur Place, can you share a few tips on how to create a bath ritual at home?
I have a few anchors that help support me in my ritual practice, and I will list them below. Think of these considerations as an invitation to nurture your nature.
- OUR ENVIRONMENT SHAPES OUR EXPERIENCE – With that in mind, begin by gently removing anything that feels distracting in your physical environment. I like to think of my bathing space as a sanctuary, a temple. I would invite you to consider what might help this time x space feel sacred for you? *I like to include a symbolic object that represents each of the four elements.
- TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE THE SPACE – Slowing down can be extremely difficult for a busy mind. How we move dictates how we feel – This immersion is all about shifting your relationship with time, and it is my experience that when I take the time to set a mood I am drawn into a different kind of presence. Commit 30 minutes to uninterrupted time, just for you.
- THE SECRETS LIE IN OUR SENSES – Our senses are the gateways to the nervous system. Let your senses guide you. Observe your sense of touch, through the skin. Our skin is the barrier between the outside world and the inside world – what begins to change as you slip into a fluid space?
- YOU HAVE TO GO BEYOND THE NOISE — One of my favorite philosophers, Alan Watts, says, “we have to get out of our minds at least once a day to come to our senses”. Nature brings us back to our body, through touch and sound. An amazing meditation that I come back to again & again is “Listen” by Boreta on Spotify (playlist link below).
- LET LIFE MOVE YOU – Allow your body to lead you. At times, I keep a journal near the bath to note sensations, images, symbols, material that swirls when I sink in. I will then curiously explore that material, and notice what piqued my curiosity. A favorite resource: “The Book of Symbols Reflections on Archetypal Images” think of it as a handbook for the human experience.
Can you share a playlist of a few tracks to accompany an at-home bath ritual?