While all careers have their stresses, I would argue that acting holds stresses of a particularly personal nature. Actors’ bodies, voices, minds, and souls are the tools of their trade. The most personal, essential parts of ourselves are presented in a public way, over and over again.
Stress management in the form of meditation provides necessary relief. It costs nothing; and it’s easier than you think.
There’s a common misunderstanding that meditation means stopping all thought. That’s a myth. It’s also impossible. Your mind will wander. The brain is an active, happening place, especially if you’re creative. Meditation provides an opportunity to choose our thoughts and continually, lovingly, feed the thoughts we choose with ongoing attention.
Close your eyes and imagine, with as much specificity as you can, a desired outcome. The more senses you involve the better. For example, experience in your imagination, what it feels/looks/sounds/smells like to give your best performance or audition. Neuroscientists have discovered that the body does not know the difference between a real or an imagined stimulus. Your thoughts (meditation) guide your choices and actions even after you’ve completed the visualization.
Or imagine wrapping a loved one in a bubble of healing light. See them (or yourself) as creative, resourceful, and whole. Thought is energy, after all. Your thoughts can have an impact on the outer world.
In her fine article in Psychology Today, AJ Adams states that “In some cases, research has revealed that mental practices are almost as effective as true physical practice, and that doing both is more effective than either alone.”
- Repeat a mantra
Choose a positive affirmation and repeat it to yourself, out loud or in your head. Keep it simple and positive. For example:
I have everything I need, right now.
I make choices every day to move my career forward.
I am ready.
I am innately courageous (or resilient, or resourceful, or creative . . .)
I surround myself with encouraging, loving people.
I am grateful for my community.
I give and receive love every day.
- Just listen
Get in a quiet place, free from distractions. Set a timer for 3 minutes, or 5 or 10 or whatever. Just listen to the sounds around and within you. Your breathing; the air conditioner; distant traffic. This simple act gives you a focal point to quiet your mind, lower your heart rate, and build the skill of choosing your thoughts.
Over time you may notice an increasing capacity to sit in silence with yourself. You may even begin to crave your meditation time. The more your practice is sustained over time, however long each segment is, the greater you benefit.