Stillness Born || A Study in Stillness by Vanessa Cuccia
Film by Joseph Anderson
“A Study In” is a series in which I will examine human concepts such as rage, idiocracy, and sensuality through theatrical expression, written word, music, and whatever else may serve. By these means, I hope to have a deep connection to the experience of human nature. Piece by piece I want to focus on an area of emotion or concept in an attempt to better understand myself as a human. Without any catalysts for these emotions or concepts to take place as a reaction, I am able to observe each from an academic perspective, breeding a clear sense of self within these experiences. It is my theory that by practicing conjuring up various energies through theatrical expression – we see which parts of ourselves we are denying and which parts we are too heavily relying on. We can examine the body and mind’s responses to living through intentional moments of emotion – and honor their existence within us to call upon.
In this study, I sat in front of the filmmaker for two hours. There was no discussion of what is to be expected from either participant, only that this is a study in stillness. I started to hear questions in my mind. I began to wonder if people would be able to “feel” what was beneath the surface even if I wasn’t doing any facial expressions or movements. After an hour of attempted stillness, I began to allow myself to move. I wondered if anything of interest could be created using just what I had at my disposal – my hands. I found it easier to stay still when someone was watching.
If you would like to join in this study, simply set up your phone to record you on the “time-lapse” option and sit still in front of it for as long as you can. Afterward, write down any thoughts that came up during your study. Share your video and thoughts with hashtags #AStudyIn” and #AStudyInStillness for a chance to be featured in a potential gallery show (time and place TBD).
After the study, I wrote down thoughts which have been compiled below.
O N E
Protect yourself from evil energy. Sway side to side. Never stand still and never stay silent. Hum music when you are not speaking.
T W O
My hypothesis is that stillness is one of those things like love or god – it’s existence changes depending on who you ask. Stillness defined is the absence of motion or sound. Even in death there is both motion and sound – as soon as you are dead the body begins to decay, and that decaying isn’t silent. I can sit as still as I can and you may say I am sitting still, but beneath my surface there is emotion, ranging from boredom to vulnerability, not to mention my stomach is digesting.
T H R E E
I am still waiting for you. (I am not still – my heart continuously remembers feeling you near.)
I am still longing to be held like a child (I am not still – each blistering production is a ploy to feel safe enough to request this.)
I am still young. (I am not still – many cells in my body are crumbling.)
I am still wanting to be understood. (I am not still – I am frantically asking for you to see the house constructed inside me.)
F O U R
Question: Given a blank space, what would you make?
Question: Are people feeling me through a screen?
Question: In stillness do we receive or do we give?
Question: What is the most you can do with the least you have?
Question: Can something real be born from a concept?
F I V E
It is urgent that we sit still. It is urgent that we allow the moss to see us as territory to make its own.
S I X
One thing they try to teach you is that you are loved just by being you. That you don’t have to move mountains. That you are enough. But how much could you love a sitting duck? Especially when after contemplating it you see swans flying above?
S E V E N
Stillness asks that we choose nothing over something. I find that boredom rarely breeds stillness. Boredom is a sign that your soul is not being nourished. Boredom results in little ticks, unnecessary movement. Boredom is a sign you’ve outgrown your programs but have not downloaded any new software. Boredom is a call to action. We never invite boredom. Boredom is passive – stillness is a choice we make. The purpose of stillness for the creative is to observe what comes up from a blank space. The purpose of stillness for the anxious is observe the present moment. The purpose of stillness for the angry is to protect. Attempting stillness gives us a sense of control over the nothingness in our lives.
E I G H T
Lesson Learned: Stillness is a concept.
~ STILLNESS MEDITATION ~
For when you’re jittery af. One of the most valuable lessons for learning to meditate is to learn how to stay still. One reason I enjoy meditation with the use of crystals is because feeling their weight on my body reminds helps physically ground me (not to mention all the metaphysical benefits of using crystals to aid in meditation). For this meditation I suggest using larger crystals, but you could even use rocks or anything with weight that will stay put on your body. Lay down and place the crystals or objects on your forehead, chest, and stomach. Or, if you prefer to sit, keep one on your lap in your relaxed hands. Focus on breathing, and don’t move. Simply – don’t move. Keep trying not to move. And then, think LOUDLY. Not moving your body will cause scattered energy to need to be rerouted and it will naturally go to your mind. Amp up the volume of your thoughts so you are yelling in your own head. Do this for as long as you can and observe what you’re saying to yourself. Observe yourself observing. Allow your breath to go as it needs to but keep yelling your thoughts to yourself. At some point, this gets tiring. You’ll want to stop thinking. Because you want to. Not because you’re telling yourself you should. And it is in that moment where you find stillness.