A manifesto for living


Do you have a manifesto for how to live your life? I’ve been thinking I’d like one.
How do I set up a life that supports my body, my ‘soul’ and the world around me?

I’ve recently bought a small house in Norfolk to be my UK base and a home to Red Ladder Studio (though I’ll still spend much of my time in Stockholm). A change in circumstances always seems to open up new possibilities for doing things differently. Imagining this new space, I’ve also been wondering how to inhabit it, I’d like a manifesto for living there. 

I’ve just finished Marina Abramovic’s, “Walk Through Walls”. It’s a memoir of her life as a performance artist. I loved the way her life has been shaped by manifestos, and her art projects formed by creating a set of rules, or parameters. 

Early in her life she goes on the road with Ulay, her partner in life and art. They have this manifesto - 

ART VITAL Manifesto

No fixed living place.

Permanent movement. 

Direct contact. 

Local relation. 


Passing limitations. 

Taking risks. 

Mobile energy. 

No rehearsal. 

No predicted end. 

No repetition. 

Extended vulnerability. 

Exposure to chance. 

Primary reactions.


Conditions, or rules, for ‘house with the ocean view’

Later, creating a performance piece called ’The House with the Ocean View’, she gives herself a set of parameters for the piece. She spends 12 days and nights living publicly in three open rooms in a gallery. Life is stripped down to sleeping, sitting, standing, drinking, peeing, washing and sleeping. She introduces the piece in the video below.


Conditions for Living Installation: Artist

Duration of the piece 12 days
Food                                  no food
Water                                 large quantity of pure water
Talking                               no talking
Singing                              possible but unpredictable 
Writing                              no writing
Reading                             no reading
Sleeping                          seven hours a day
Standing                           unlimited
Sitting                              unlimited
Lying                                 unlimited 
Shower                             three times a day

Conditions for living installation: public

Use telescope
Remain silent
Establish energy dialogue with the artist

Reggie Ray’s Container for Practice

I’ve also been reading Reggie Ray’s ’The Practice of Pure Awareness’. Towards the end of the book there is a section called Shila: Establishing a container for practice. He says - 

The term “shila” has no exact equivalent in English, but it refers generally to some kind of commitment to a wholesome life and behaviour that one takes on in the service of one’s meditative journey.

I myself often prefer the gloss “container”, meaning the kind of life situation we need to establish in order to protect, hold, nourish, and optimise our meditative journey. I also like the term “container” because it suggests the larger meaning of Shila in Asia: in other words, it includes everything we do in our life, when we are not on the meditation cushion, that impacts our ability to follow the meditative journey towards wholeness and completion.
— Reggie Ray

I’ve been taken with these two notions. Having a manifesto for living, and of one’s whole life being a container for practice. How would I create that container? Where would my parameters be? How would my manifesto look? 

Here are a few things that come to mind…

  • Walk to the sea everyday, in every weather.

  • Choose the most analog option.

  • Have a day-dreaming practice (inspired by my friend Moksha).

  • Buy used, re-use, recycle.

  • If you can’t buy used, buy expensive - good quality, fair-trade, supporting independent businesses.

  • Have a daily nap.

Next time I hope to share a worked out manifesto. What would be in yours?