In the last article in the Meditation for Actors series, we discussed the importance of having a quiet, focused mind when preparing an audition piece and learned some basic mindfulness meditation techniques.
In order for meditation to be beneficial, you have to do it, and do it with some degree of consistency. It's also important that your practice doesn’t feel like a chore but instead feels relaxing, nurturing, and energizing. Here are two ways to personalize your practice and make it something you look forward to doing.
First, let’s go back to the breath. The next time you sit down to meditate, experiment with your breath.
Breath in and out, focusing on expanding and contracting the chest. After a few breaths, move to the stomach and feel the breath expanding and contracting the stomach. Now, move to the nose and put your focus on feeling the breath going in and out of your nostrils. After 2-3 minutes of this, settle back down into a natural way of breathing. Note which of the three breaths made you feel warmest and most comfortable. Breathe that breath in and out for a minute or so. That will be what I call your “home breath.” Instead of just breathing in and out with no focus, you will now breathe from the place that makes you feel warm and supported, i.e. the place that connects your mind and body. When you find this breath, you’ll find you want meditate because it feels really good to come home to your breath.
Another way to make the practice your own is to choose a mantra. In my meditation classes we choose creative mantras: words or short phrases that offer artistic inspiration. Some examples are “create,” listen,” “inspire,” and “let go.”
Assume your meditation position, close your eyes, and establish your home breath. Now, say the manta to yourself on the "in breath" and release it on the "out breath." You can play with also saying it on the out breath as well, whatever works and motivates you to meditate. This is a beautiful way to practice right before starting your audition preparation as it provides you with a motivating, focused intent for you work. It can also be a very useful exercise to practice in the waiting room to calm and center yourself just before you go in to your audition.
Experiment with your home breath and applying a creative mantra. If you bring a sense of playful discovery to meditation, have fun with it, and make it yours, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Your practice has the potential to be a refuge for you and a place where you come home to yourself personally and creatively. Like great acting, the more personal it is to you, the better it will be.
Next week we will address meditations that will help you stay calm, energized, and focused in the waiting room.
Craig is currently teaching his audition technique classes and his Meditation for Actors classes in Santa Monica, CA. For more information visit www.wallaceauditiontechnique.com. Wallace will also be available to take your questions on this topic and any others you may have at my free seminar on February 9 at The Complex in Hollywood.