Meditation is key to Happy Acting
Some people may think that to meditate you need to be some kind of guru, yogi or monk living in a temple. That you are going to need hours and hours and complete silence, and of course, fairly flexible hips, given the challenging positions people are seen meditating in. All these preconceptions couldn’t be farther away from reality, and anybody can enjoy the benefits of meditation with even just 5 minutes every day.
There are many different techniques of meditation, in this article you can find the main seven explained: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320392.php
As actors we’re constantly looking for something new: a new audition, a new job, a new agent, a new scene partner, a new side job... the list can keep going for, well, pages.
One could argue that this way of living -- never seeing the schedule of two consecutive weeks being the same -- is indeed very exciting, a lifestyle that surely does not allow to get bored. This lifestyle however can also cause a lot of stress and anxiety, and especially for sensitive, open, empathetic people (rings a bell?). That is where meditation comes into place. Only 5 minutes of meditation every day can really help reducing stress and anxiety, it can help have a clearer mind and as a consequence, better focus, clearer goals, more time and energy to spend reaching them. Let’s take a look at the scientific side of meditation: when we are stressed and anxious we are sending messages of fear and danger to our bodies. We are literally telling our body: ‘this is a very scary situation from which you should run as fast as you can’. Therefore our body will release chemicals such as cortisol and adrenaline (you must have heard of them), which reduce appetite, disturb your sleep, raise your blood pressure and basically prepare your body for war. Here’s an article that goes deeper into stress response and consequences of chronic stress: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 We all know that our bodies speak before we open our mouths, and people perceive those signals. Surely the last thing we want when we enter an audition room is sending the message: I’m scared, I don’t wanna be here and my body is actually well ready to leave. Quite the opposite.
One more reason why meditation is going to help you in your acting career: it’s going to make you calm, present, available to listen to directions and in general more open to what is going on around you, because you won’t be too busy trying to find the nearest whole to hide yourself in (metaphorically). If we have convinced you and you would like to give this meditation thing a try, then you have various options: YouTube: there are so many different mediations on YouTube. Different lengths and techniques. You can really experiment and choose which technique is more you. Here’s a link to a 10 minutes mindfulness meditation. https://youtu.be/6p_yaNFSYao Apps such as Calm and Headspace: they will guide you through a course of daily meditations for as long as you like, so that you’ll eventually be ready to fly with your own wings. (These apps are not free, although they come at a relatively cheap price, especially if opting for the yearly subscription). Self-taught: Start on week 1 with just 3 minutes a day, set an alarm on your phone. Sit on a chair/on the floor/on your bed, close your eyes and pay attention to your breath for 3 minutes. That's it. On week 2 you’ll do the same daily, but for 4 minutes. On week 3 you’ll move on to 5 minutes, and so on until you reach the number of minutes that is more suitable to your life and schedule.
Strasberg Campus classes: we also do guided meditation as an exercise in class, as well as sense memory exercises and the amazing Freedom Circle, which I can assure you, is quite liberating, stress-releasing and helps with visualisation and imagination, too -- handy skills for an actor, as you know.
We really hope that you’ll give meditation a try. It’s super easy, mostly free and it really doesn’t take too much out of your life. If anything, it adds to it!