Episode #4 of the course Creative mindfulness: Ten ways to chill out and enjoy creativity by K.C. Finn
Today’s lesson encourages you to take a bold step forward with your mindfulness practice and builds on the previous speaking exercise that we worked on as an introduction. Borrowed from my experiences working on the stage and in drama education, this is one mood-shifter you don’t want to miss.
A great many practices from creative mindfulness guidebooks are based on activities and practices that many of us had as children, because we look back on childhood as a problem-free time in which we could escape with fantasies and have a good old pretend about the world. The reality is, there is nothing to stop us enjoying that feeling of pretend right now and escaping at any moment we like in order to step out of our lives and get perspective.
One such way that adults escape is through acting, whether it is in professional form, local amateur dramatics, improvisational games, or even just making silly impressions with our friends. Drama gives everyone a chance to play pretend and be in someone else’s head for a moment instead of their own. Those of us who have busy brains and are bogged down with worry could certainly use a break from our own negative thoughts once in a while, and there’s no better way to let those emotions settle than to take on someone else’s for a bit. There’s also a healthy dose of brain chemistry involved in changing our emotional state, even if it’s only temporary.
You may think that acting and dramatics has to be a group exercise, and for many, that’s true. But from my experience on the stage and backstage, there are also individual practices that actors must take on in order to prepare and succeed in their endeavors. One example is the monologue, which is a piece of drama written for just one person to express. Actors will often learn part of or sometimes an entire monologue as an audition piece to help them get cast in productions. It also provides a chance for them to show their acting chops by becoming someone they are not.
Today, you are an actor. Just for fun, of course, although you might be bitten by the bug! Spend a little time searching for free monologues online (see “Further Reading” for great tips). Shakespeare is always good fun, as are the works of Alan Bennett. Find a short extract at first, something that you like and that expresses a totally different emotional state to the one you’re in. So, if you’re worried, take a page of empowering speech or flowery love sonnets. If you’re too energized, choose something soothing or even a little mysterious. Perform this piece out loud to the very best of your acting ability. Nobody has to watch or critique. This is just for you to get into that emotion for a few minutes and to leave yourself and your normal life behind.
As we’ve discussed before, speaking out loud helps you control your breathing, which plays a huge part in circulation, oxygen in the brain, and feeling calmer overall. Acting can also be an invigorating task, one that encourages positive feelings in your mind and gives you a sense of achievement when you have completed a few good lines. If you find a writer or character who speaks to you emotionally, you can achieve fulfilling results with this simple exercise that you can do in the privacy of your own home. If you have a partner or friend who also needs to take a creative time-out, then this is an exercise that can easily be expanded to include more people.
Tomorrow’s lesson is another performative exercise, but this time, we will really home in on those emotions in a deeper way and explore the pertinent connection that our brains naturally have to the world of music.
Get ready to be a star!
Monologue Blogger is a fantastic resource to find pieces for this reading exercise, especially because it also sorts them by their duration and gives a great little summary of each character before you read the whole thing. Everyone can find something to fit here.
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