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Mindful : August 2015
you return to it every time with fresh eyes, if you are prepared to do so. In order to get to this place you have to have the capacity to be not only your best self, but to forget that self entirely and momentarily become another—the character’s self. No small feat, that. Discipline Plays a Role This isn’t to say that all great actors consciously engage in mindfulness practice, but it’s clear they embody characteristics that mindfulness engenders. For those of us who are not great actors, and I number myself among them, we must approach things with discipline—and it does little good to try to adhere to one that you don’t practice on a daily basis. Experienced meditators have usually had the experience during extended retreats that, when sitting, what initially took an hour, or a day, can begin to come much more quickly. That’s one reason why, if we are to bring mindfulness to acting, or any art form, the practice must be daily, and disciplined. Without that foundation an actor can be pushed this way and that by the currents that blow every which way on a set. Once I’ve established my backstory, made choices about my character, and received instruction from the director, the only thing I have to work with is my fellow actors. They become, if not my primary focus, then the object of my performance’s focus, because without them nothing is going to happen, and with them, it all comes together. What better way to ensure that than developing a mindfulness practice that allows you to include, embrace, and empower others while you work together? Mindfulness allows us to take care of our- selves so thoroughly that we have no more need to be concerned about ourselves. In acting, that kind of awareness fosters an environment where the other actors are set free to be who they want to be in the piece. That’s when magic becomes possible. If a shared vision of good material is recorded, you create an event that has what it takes to find an audience. In the end we are servants of the stories we want to tell. On the rare occasion that one has the opportunity to tell a good story, it takes not just a good actor, but a free one, to convey the story’s intimacies. Being intimate with oneself, and others, is the key. It unlocks the gates of beauty, which can then flow freely through us, and the stories we long to tell. ● PHOTOGRAPHBYDAVIDBLOOMER/SHOWTIME 64 mindful August 2015 performance