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Backstage Experts

Meditation Can Change Your Audition Experience...and Your Life

Meditation Can Change Your Audition Experience...and Your Life
Photo Source: @sabrinafvholder via Twenty20

Over the past two decades, I’ve had the opportunity to instruct, work with, and learn from some absolutely amazing human beings; from actors to producers to agents to fellow coaches. Throughout my career, I’ve found one common attribute to be consistent with the most successful individuals in this group: they know how to truly own the moment. When they walk in the room, they take the room. It becomes their room. Not in some ego driven way, but in a way that feels honest and authentic. This is especially true with the most impressive actors I’ve worked with.

I like to say, “either you take the room, or the room takes you.” There’s no middle ground. You can’t kinda take the room. I often have my actors think of auditioning like tightrope walking high above the ground without a net—they’re either all in or they’re dead. Morbid, maybe, but effective!

I also believe this concept of owning the room to be essential in an actor’s journey to wholeheartedly commit. There’s absolutely no way you’re going to dive in if you don’t have the faith, confidence, and presence to believe success lies on the other side.

So how does meditation come in? Quite simply. In order to own the room and the moment, you must first be in the moment. Most actors are so distracted by the past or the future that they’re rarely in the now. Listen, I get it. It’s scary to embrace the moment, open your heart and be vulnerable enough to show someone your soul. But if you want to create something compelling and worth watching as an actor, it’s essential. I’ve yet to find a more effective way to practice being in the moment than through meditation.

We rarely (if ever) practice stillness and being in the now, two crucial elements to delivering an effective audition. Actors will do quite the opposite. Instead of embracing the moment and indulging in their audition, they audition to finish, almost like they can’t get the words out fast enough so they can get out of the room and take a breath. One of my goals as an acting coach is to help my actors embrace that exact uncomfortableness. To simply breathe into it. To own it. And love it!

READ: How to Stay Grounded + Centered When Things Get Crazy

By practicing meditation, you’re fine-tuning the muscle in your brain that allows you to really be present. The key word here is “practice”—just like learning a sport or new skill, it takes a lot of practice to become great at something. You must have consistency and repetition (two of my favorite words) to really grasp something, and meditation is no different. It’s a practice.

In every class or workshop I instruct, I incorporate some element of meditation. I get my students to practice—even if just for a few minutes—the art of simply being. What’s interesting is that I find that for many students, this might be the only time in their day where they actually stop and focus on their breath. Where they let go of all the chaos and simply be.

Take a moment right now. Stop reading, close your eyes, and take a few breaths. I bet you’ll feel a little bit more focused and relaxed than you did before you stopped. Which leads me to my next point: meditation can change your life.

To be clear, I’m not talking about meditation in some spiritual, woo-woo kind of way. I’m talking about science. Specifically, neuroscience. There has been much research on the psychological and physiological effects of meditation, directly observing brain physiology and neural activity, either during the act of meditation itself or before and after a meditation. These studies have found that meditation can literally change the structure and function of our brain.

I have personally found that my meditation practice has given me much more balance and harmony in my life. I’ve also seen firsthand the effects of meditation with my students. They’ve said that it has made significant shifts in their ability to connect in auditions and has given them more of a sense of peace with their auditions, two things I believe all actors would like to have more of.

I often find the most difficult part of developing a consistent meditation practice is simply getting the practice started in the first place. What’s worked best for me was to make a routine of sitting for ten minutes each morning without any distractions, with no goal other than to just sit with my eyes closed,  focusing on my breath. At first, I thought I sucked at meditation because I couldn’t “clear my mind.”

But I realized the key to my practice was to let go of any judgment. If I sat there for 10 minutes thinking about my to-do list or what someone said to me yesterday or what I was going to post on social media, that was okay. Once I let go of trying to do some specific thing in my meditation, it allowed my thoughts to simply come and go. I then began to see the benefits of meditation. It almost felt like a massage for my mind. Even if I only felt this sense of peace for one minute of my 10-minute meditation, that was fine.

No matter how you start or what your meditation practice becomes, I promise you’ll find a little more peace in both your life and auditions if you just take a few moments a day to stop and breathe, and simply be.

Need some guidance on where to start? Check out apps like Headspace and Calm, and books like “The Power of Meditation: An Ancient Technique to Access Your Inner Power” by Edward Viljoen. 

Winner of Backstage’s Readers’ Choice for Atlanta’s Favorite Acting Coach, Erik Lingvall brings a wealth of experience guiding and training talent, throughout the Southeast. As the founder of Catapult Acting, a top training studio in Atlanta for actors concentrating on TV/Film & Commercial work, he has established himself as one of the most sought-after acting coaches in the country. Check out his full bio here!  

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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