Work in Progress 3 - Connection

Mar 13 2017

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Holly Stoppit

It’s one week after ‘Vulnerability,’ my last work in progress performance and I’ve just got home from a week long silent meditation retreat at Gaia House, a converted nunnery in the beautiful Devonshire countryside. I’ve been going there once or twice a year for 12 years and each time is different and each time it’s just what I need. This retreat was called ‘Your Life Is Your Teacher’ and was led by the wonderfully wise imp-oak-man, Martin Aylward

I spent the week sitting on a cushion in a beautifully clean, high ceilinged meditation hall (my job this time was to get the cobwebs from the ceiling, using three bamboo poles taped together with a feather duster taped to the end, I still had to balance precariously on a chair because I am tiny. I took great pride in my job and no spiders got hurt) with around 60 other people, exploring a quality of steadiness and sincerity by placing a gentle awareness with the breath in the lowest part of our bellies and with our rooted, still posture. 

Ed and Liz, my facilitators from the last show, would have been very proud of me (All they wanted me to do during our process was to be still and quiet occasionally! Well, you’ll be happy to hear I managed it! For a whole week!).

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Holly Stoppit

In between sittings I walked slowly through the fragrant, vibrant green grounds, listening to crows and blackbirds chatting away in the tall pines, eager bumblebees feasting on spring nectar and rampant frogs trying to find froggy love, feeling the warmth of the sun and the coolness of the breeze on my skin.

This work in progress project followed me around everywhere I went, of course! But it felt important for my health and well-being to let go of it for a week. I have felt very ill again this week, with a similar set of symptoms to this time last month (chesty cough and sore throat), which I had put down to extra life-stress on top of severe stage fright after the first show. But the symptoms came back again this month. I had been blaming the carpet from the rehearsal space this time, as I started coughing the day I rolled on the un-hoovered carpet, but I am still suffering 2 weeks after getting intimate with the carpet. Throughout the week at Gaia House, it dawned on me that there might be a pattern forming here… I do a show, I get ill… I get frightened, I get ill…. I expose myself to shame, I get ill... I hold on too tight, I get ill…

I needed to strike a deal with the show so that it would let me have time and space to rest and heal. I allowed it one hour a day of my focussed attention, trudging through the thick dark ivy with my hessian bound book to the dark green writing pagoda. I started by reflecting on the last show and mulling over the feedback I’d received from the audience. It became very clear, very quickly that this final show is about ‘Connection’; how connection enhances our lives, how easily it is to fall out of connection and how it takes courage, compassion and vulnerability to reestablish connection when it’s broken.

Holly Stoppit
Image credit: Holly Stoppit

I finished ‘Vulnerability’ on a bit of a cliff hanger, due to unexpected timing! I spontaneously cut the final two scenes which explored my journey towards connection with the human race. I believe there are no accidents with creative process, so perhaps this is where the next show begins…?

Unsurprisingly, it was almost as if Martin's evening Dharma talks were created especially for the show (Gaia House always gives me just what I need!), shining a light on what hinders our connection with ourselves and each other and how cultivating generosity, gentleness and gratitude can lead us back into connection in any moment.

So I will take generosity, gentleness and gratitude as my score for the next three weeks and see what I manage to make with that.

Come and see for yourself on 2nd April at 7.30 at The Wardrobe Theatre. Pay What you Decide.

Venue info here.

Facebook event here.


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