Theatre as Sacred Space

This morning I went to the fourth in a four-part series of workshops on Mindfulness and Meditation at the Fairbanks addictions recovery center on the northeast side of Indianapolis.  The facilitator was Jo Holt, PhD.

I had never been to Fairbanks before this series; I learned about the series from a friend after it had started, so I missed the introductory session on “Mindfulness” last fall.  However, I benefitted greatly from the second session (“Self-Compassion”) last November, the third session (“Dark Night” – about difficult emotions) in January, and now this final session on “Wholeness” here in February.

The series has been a wonderful experience, and just what I needed at this point in my life journey or whatever you want to call it.

I mention it here on Indy Theatre Habit because of something directly theatre-related that came to me during this morning’s activities:

As I said earlier, we were talking about, and meditating on, the topic of Wholeness.  In the first part of the morning Jo led a “body scan” meditation and discussion.  After the break, we explored the topic of Wholeness in terms of experiences of spirituality and/vs. religion. 

Jo put on a deeply peaceful recording of some kind of Tibetan bells or gongs.  She gave us each a sheet of quotes that she had received over time from a local Catholic monastery.  We went around the circle and slowly took turns reading the quotes aloud.

The compilation of quotes included a rich, rich mixture from a wide variety of religious and secular sources.  Each quote is worth its own day or week or lifetime of meditation.   Here are the three that were randomly “mine” to read aloud today:

“Meditation is not a means of self-improvement but a way of discovering truth and relating to it with compassion and honesty. – John Kornfield

“I want to paint men and women with that something of the Eternal which the halo used to symbolize.” – Vincent van Gogh

“Never forget God’s power is love.  We are apt to judge God’s love by our own.  That is our mistake.” – Anon

Then Jo gave us each a 3×5 card and a pen and asked us to sit quietly and listen for our own quotes.

Here is what came up for me, to my surprise:

I go to the theatre for some of the same reasons I go to church: to be comforted by the ritual, to learn about my humanity, to experience beauty, to participate in a community, and to touch the mystery of God.

Church and theatre are not equivalent things for me, and I will be the first to roll my eyes at preachy theatre but…yeah: I do think that what a live audience and a group of live theatre artists create together in the moment is something sacred, whether it is overtly religious or not.

‘See you at the theatres…

Hope Baugh – www.IndyTheatreHabit.com and www.twitter.com/IndyTheatre

(Photo above is “Cocoon” by A. Pagliaricci and used with permission: I found it on the Creative Commons area of Flickr.com.)

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