The Importance of Slowing Down + How To Do It

Photo Source: Photo by Natalia Figueredo on Unsplash

Creating something meaningful is not a race to the finish. Rather, it’s a journey of discovery that takes patience, focus, and an open heart.

We live at a pace that is not conducive to creating. Our minds are too sped up and overstimulated; our bodies are numb and our hearts are often ignored. But to create anything worthwhile—a great painting, a beautiful piece of music, a powerful audition—requires that you calm the mind and wake up the body and heart.

Here are two tools you can use to help you slow down and shift yourself into a more creative gear.

Become aware of your breath.
The breath offers the clearest indication of how we feel in our bodies. For example, when we are living at a pace that speeds the brain up and disconnects us from the body, we can find that we’re barely surviving on short, shallow breaths produced from the upper chest. These are the breaths that send a signal of anxiety up to the brain and produce feelings of jumpiness in the body—not fertile ground for creativity!

So before you begin your creative process, check in with the breath and breathe in a way that opens you up by taking five deep inhales and exhales in the stomach. This lets down the defenses and sends a signal of expansion to the brain. Then, perhaps, five deep inhales and exhales into the solar plexus or the heart center. This sends a signal of safety to the brain so that the heart can now open.

It is impossible to create at the speed of life. Making awareness of your breath your first priority slows your whole instrument down and prepares you for creation.

READ: Why Every Actor Needs a Healthy Morning Routine

Become aware of the body.
Acting is about going deep into the body to find the emotional honesty you need in order to give a job-getting audition or a great performance; the body is where all of your creative answers lie. You don’t think emotions, you feel them, and yet there are so many actors who rely more on their brains than their bodies when preparing an audition or performance. One reason is that their brains are so used to running the show that when it comes time to create, the mind sees no reason to not be in charge. Again, here is why it’s necessary to slow down and change gears.

One of the most effective ways to calm the mind is to focus on the body. When what you feel is more important than what you think, you are ready to create. The next time you’re getting ready to prepare an audition or pursue any other creative endeavor, try doing a 5-10 minute body scan. Start at the top of the head, working your way down to the forehead, face, shoulders, chest, etc., bringing awareness and breath to your entire body slowly and specifically. Notice how you are feeling and what emotions are activated as you become aware of the different parts of the body. There is nothing to think about here so if the mind tries to push in and offer an opinion on your experiences, just note it as thinking and come back into the body.

By bringing this type of focused awareness to the breath and the body, you’re naturally relaxing the mind and putting it in third place instead of first. When you feel the wild mind calm down and melt into the living, breathing, emotional body, you’re ready to create something truly meaningful.

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and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

Craig Wallace
Craig Wallace is the creator and award-winning teacher of the Wallace Audition Technique, an audition preparation system that he developed based on his years of experience as a studio executive, talent agent, and casting consultant.