I feel drawn to stillness right now. My life has become very busy recently. I got married last year and I now have an 11 week old daughter who has upended my life in ways I could never have imagined. Her name is Joy and wow does she bring Joy! But also frustration, fear, the insecurity of not knowing how to be a parent, and much more! It has been more challenging than I could ever have expected, but I’m really starting to love it! I work full-time in a very stressful environment and on top of all this I’ve started this project, which although is something I am deeply passionate about, has it’s own pressures too. Last night I sat and watched some tennis and just relaxed for a couple of hours. I battled with my mind at first, which kept telling me I should be working on this project, but my body was saying ‘rest’, be still. Now I know tennis isn’t exactly a renowned meditation practice, and to be honest I often find it stressful, especially when Andy Murray (I’m a big fan!) is playing Novak Djokovic! But last night it was the space I needed, and I dropped into myself and rested, not just physically, but in the deeper space of my soul.
This morning I woke up with stillness on my mind and in my experience, and it got me thinking about how this is one of my main inspirations for, and ways of, creating performance work together with others. For many years I worked together with my good friend, and fellow co-creator, David Leckenby. David is a brilliant electronic musician and deeply inspired soul who has a lot of love and space in his heart for others. In a way the experience I had working with David is possibly the strongest influence for this project, even though the inspiration has come in many forms throughout my life.
I have mentioned this in a separate blog but essentially what we were doing was ‘jamming’ together. David would play live electronic music, mostly improvising, and I would freestyle dance to this music. During these ‘jam’ sessions we would often return to a place of stillness. Of course we weren’t physically still, I would dance and he would play music, but we would in essence move from and as the essence of stillness. The more we did this the more it would take on a life of it’s own and we would be drawn deeper into it. In it’s purist form, and in many enlightenment traditions, emptiness is not something that could ever be seen, known, and definitely not expressed as movement, because it would not be empty or still, or whatever definition you are familiar with. But for us it was very real and also very instructive. It became a reference point and we would usually start in this space when beginning our sessions together. We would build a co-creative dynamic that was pregnant with energy and depth, but there would often come a point we would move away from this space and everything felt flat and empty, empty in the wrong way. As we continued this work we consciously made the effort to not move away from that depth and instead let it guide our work together. What started to happen after this was often surprising and inspiring; we would move into deep states of co-creative energy with a depth and beauty to sound and movement that was an expression of the power of stillness, in action. We then created performances based on these dynamics, setting them up in such a way that they had a general arch/timeline but had the space to be free and spontaneous, following the deeper flows and impulses that come from stillness. When we did these shows live they would have a very deep impact and drew the audience into the very space we were performing from. In fact you could say we were just accessing that the ground we all stand on, and the performers and audience were not separate anymore.
Although these experiences, and the understand that I got from them, are very real to me, I am also aware that there seem to be conditions to this process, a kind of strategy in some way. With this project I want to remove conditions so that we are free to be ourselves and create together. But with any process where you are trying to figure something out it’s a case of just throwing yourself into the unknown and seeing what works, I guess that’s the point!
Moving forwards, from stillness
I started this project because I want to express a creative impulse that has been burning in me throughout my life, and also hopefully find a different way to earn a living, and support my family. A part of this is to get away from the stress that is caused from my current work, but last night I became aware that I was relating to doing this project in the same way; that it is something that I must do, that I have to do, and not the natural passion which is just a part of who I am. Although doing this project is activating and freeing up a deeper more natural part of myself, it’s also more important where I am moving from into life, and of course into this project. Is it a place of fear and tension, or from my own natural passion and freedom. Lots to learn and find out about, lots to share and discover.