The mind needs to be focused, steady, and calm for you to create and give a brilliant performance or kill an audition.
And despite what it may feel like sometimes, it’s important to know that the mind is not the enemy of the creative process. Though it can feel like the mind is pushing into your process, causing you to overthink, in actuality, the mind is simply trying to perform its functions, primary of which is to protect and keep you safe.
One of the ways it protects you is with the fight, flight, or freeze mechanisms. Since auditioning often finds you in new environments in front of strangers, it can seem like a dangerous situation. Hence the flight mechanism kicking in.
But in order to share the amazing work stored in your heart and body, you need to be relaxed and free; your mind needs to feel that you’re safe enough for it to release control. Here are two ways to do just that, bringing comfort and focus to the mind.
Establish a breath and mantra practice.
A good way to steady the mind it to work with the breath. The mind is tremendously receptive to the messages it receives from breathing: breathe shallow, the mind will sense danger; breathe deeply, the mind begins to release its grip.
Breathing in a way that is specific to your needs will send the message even faster. Breaths emanating from the stomach help with feeling large and expansive. Chest breaths help you relax. Focusing the breath on the solar plexus opens the heart. Concentrating on how the breath feels traveling in and out of the nostrils increases focus.
You can increase the power of the message to your brain by attaching a mantra to the breath. I think it’s a great idea for all actors to have a creative mantra, the one word that describes you as an artist and the art you want to create. Take your time finding it or have more than one—just make sure they resonate strongly with your body and heart.
Inhale deeply from your chosen body area, gathering the mantra into your mind/body. At the top of the inhale, say your mantra and then exhale it out into the world. The action of breathing your mantra into your body will steady the mind, letting it know all is well, that you are safe in your creative space, and that it can take a break from guard duty so you can be free to create.
READ: Imagination is an Actor’s Best Friend
Set an intention.
Now that the mind is steady, it needs to know what to focus on and nothing does this more than a clear intention. Energy follows attention—it’s that simple. If you are unclear as to what you’re paying attention to, the mind will become agitated and spray energy all over the place.
Intent focuses the energy and acts as your director through the audition process.
Have a conscious intent for every moment leading up to the audition. Make your intents strong and kind. (You don’t need to put yourself under more pressure than you may already be feeling). Make intentions to have fun, create, share, connect, and surprise before you begin working on the piece.
Set an intention for your time in the waiting room so your attention doesn’t get hijacked and you stay focused and positive. Set one for the person/people in the room and make it generous—to make their day better, to lift their spirits, etc. This sends a message to the mind that you’re in charge and there’s no threat.
I assume you already have an intention for your work, so commit to that during the reading and also for how you leave the room as well. Working in this very conscious way keeps your mind focused on the job at hand so all of your energy flows in support of it. Conscious intent will make you appear clear, strong, and purposeful through each phase of the process—all qualities that are essential to you getting the job.
The mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy as you move through the audition process. Being aware of what it needs to calm down and focus is essential. Using your breath and the power of your intentions to do so is a game-changing strategy. Your body and heart will then be able to take over the creative process and instill your work with the compelling, powerful, and specific energy that will make you hard to deny.
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