Breakthroughs in life occur at the feeling level.
That’s the beginning and end of it. If you want to evolve, grow, face your fears, reach new heights, and become the kind of artist you know you can become, you have to feel your way there. You have to feel things you aren’t accustomed to allowing yourself to feel—things you try to control and suppress, and things that you have judgments about. Then, you have to be brave enough to communicate those feelings to someone else. When you feel vulnerable, exposed, scared, and intimidated—that’s not just the call to acting, that’s the call to life itself.
Just feel. Period.
Your feelings don’t have to be pretty, or together, or understood by others. They don’t even have to make sense. Feelings often don’t make sense—that’s why they’re feelings! How do you intellectualize love, compassion, hope, fear, sadness, empathy, and desire? You can’t. Or, you can try, but the intellectual component only takes you so far. However, the more you allow yourselvf to actually be, the more your life begins to transform in positive ways.
When you don’t give yourself permission to feel, you move through life numbing yourself, putting yourself in a zombie-fied state of existence—a standardized way of just getting through the day. You wake up one day and realize you’ve merely been surviving, not truly living—or maybe you’ve been living, but not thriving.
To thrive is to be emotionally engaged—curious, excited, passionate, vulnerable.
The breakthroughs that have occurred in your life have all come at the emotional level. You experience grief, tragedy, and loss, and the experience profoundly shifts you or changes your outlook. You express pain, frustration, and turmoil, and an insight occurs from the release. You live in joy, ecstasy, and passion, and realize you’ve never allowed yourself to feel that wild or free.
You could argue that breakthroughs occur first at an intellectual level. Perhaps you solve a math theorem, or make a new scientific discovery, or uncover a new model for physics —and those achievements, of course, require a great deal of brain energy. But what comes with the intellectual insight is the commensurate feeling in your body physiologically and in your heart. You feel overjoyed or relieved. You feel gratified and elated. You feel a “Eureka!” sensation inside. That’s not intellectual. That’s emotional.
So feel. It sounds so easy, but when you begin to look at how often you cripple yourself from feeling, you realize that like anything else, it’s a journey. It takes time, but the pay-off is really truly living life, and really the essence of life itself.
Anthony Meindl is an award-winning writer, director, producer, and artistic director of Anthony Meindl's Actor Workshop (AMAW) with studios in Los Angeles, New York, London, and Vancouver. It was honored by Backstage three years in a row and named the Best Acting Studio in Los Angeles (Best Scene Study and Best Cold Read).
Meindl's first feature film, “Birds of a Feather,” won the Spirit of the Festival Award at the 2012 Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, and he won Best Director at the Downtown Film Festival Los Angeles. It releases on iTunes and DVD in March of 2014. He is a regular contributor to The Daily Love, Backstage, and various spirituality podcasts. He has been featured in ABC News, Daily Variety, LA Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, and CW KTLA. He has been a guest speaker at the GATE 2013 Story Conference, founded by Jim Carrey and Eckhart Tolle, and David Lynch's Masters in Film Program (Maharishi University of Management).
He is also the author of the best-selling creativity book, At Left Brain Turn Right, which helps artists of all kinds unleash their creative genius within. Check out Meindl's free smartphone app on iTunes. Follow Meindl on Twitter @AnthonyMeindl.