human connection with water

Interview: Jobi Manson of Sēfari

Posted by Charlotte Boates on

Whether in her California home or while traveling, Jobi Manson's connection to water and the elements is eternally at the forefront. An artist, sculptor, and facilitator, Jobi is also the founder of Sēfari—a platform to explore the elements of presence through digital and in-person guided immersions.

Artist and facilitator Jobi Manson bathing in water

What drove you to start Sēfari?
The idea for Sēfari was born in South Africa, whilst writing at a café just outside of Johannesburg. It was late in the afternoon, it was September, my favorite month of the year and it was one of those perfect days. I had just arrived in the country, I was a bit jet lagged and pretty much everything was moving in slow motion. 

From a distance, I could hear kids running, barefoot tossing a football back and forth, the bells of passing goats clinking, as their hooves hit the pavement, and the scent of coffee floating in the air. I began to realize that for the first time in a long time, I was listening. I was present, I felt completely at home. 

I watched the hustle and bustle of this space, couples in conversation, artists sharing theories on perspective, an odd wandering animal lost in the mix. My senses were totally overwhelmed by the raw honest beauty of the scene and the pull I felt to be there. It was in this moment, that I realized how much the environment shapes an experience. 

Passionately, I took my pen to paper. I began to dream about what my version of this experience could be like. Ultimately, Sēfari was born out of a deep desire for connection with others and with my surroundings. To create an organic experience that celebrated nature, inspiring a deeper kind of being, a place where one could go to become more present, and more creative. 

hands holding stones in water for meaningful bathing

Can you tell us about your most meaningful bathing experience?
In 2021, I was invited to participate in an art residency program, set on Hydra. A small island of stone, perched just off the coast of Athens.

Upon arrival, I decided that for 21 days I would begin each morning exactly the same way, placing subtle limitations on my process. My day would begin at sunrise, walking down the cobblestone streets towards the sea. This routine pilgrimage morphed very quickly into a bathing ritual, and the idea was simple, rise with light and immerse to emerge.

As I repeated this exercise, I realized that in the repetition of this intention, of returning to the same location, at the same time, witnessing the same space, I was attuning my body with the landscape. My rhythm, my thoughts, entrained with nature and everything began to open.

I became the water, I became the stone.

What is your relationship to slow living?
Living slowly teaches me how to live deeply. There is a quote that I love, “when you move half as fast, you notice twice as much.”

Slow living creates a kind of spaciousness, and in that space there is room to explore the nuance of feeling, of aesthetics, one is able to sense and appreciate the mysteries of time.

Jobi Manson floating peacefully in water

What has been the most rewarding part of working with water?
Over the years I have been extremely blessed to behold water in many different expressions, from meandering rivers to thundering jungle waterfalls to the scintillating blues of the Mediterranean Sea.

With each environment, I am reminded of water’s super power – it absorbs and reflects the unique beauty of its surrounding terrain. When I immerse in those spaces, when I slip into that river or stand beneath the cascading falls, I too absorb the power of that place. I bathe in that nature, and therefore I become that nature. Magic.

Water is the great unifier, master of delta—it is my greatest teacher, moving me perpetually onward flowing with life’s currents.

What’s one way that water has impacted you and your life?
It softens everything, and it held me when no one else could.

Water flowing over rocks - connecting with water

How can people connect to water (and nature and themselves) at home? How can we build these moments into our everyday lives?
Ritual is a wonderful way to begin a dialogue with this element. I think the best way to get to know something, anything for that matter is to spend time with it. When we immerse into a body of water, we slip out of time and into another world.

For me, I have time in the water upon waking (usually a shower), sometimes a surf or paddle and in the evenings I sink into a warm soak. I love the concept of bookending my day with the intention of soft movement and support, I think of this practice as “nurturing my nature.”

Water helps me feel better, and I believe that is because elemental spaces create elemental connection. When I begin the day in the presence of nature, nature here being (with water), all following activities tend to flow with greater ease and grace.

*Sidenote: it doesn’t hurt to have a beautiful bath to help me come out of my mind and into my senses.

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