By Dietitian Jill Place
Hey … I’m a 60’s kid. Who aspired to be an actress. So activism, finding my emotional and spiritual core, and being in the moment were very important to me. Hey … the Beatles were not the only ones who became 60’s devotees. Or activists.
Then, many artists seemed to embrace the ideas and ideals of Eastern philosophy. I remember, when I was a new Kindergarten teacher in 1968, my favorite outfit was a navy blue (the power color) Nehru pantsuit. You know … the sleek one with the stand-up collar that the Indian president of the same name wore then.
But mine was not a run-with-the-flock kind of spiritual journey. Because, as a Method acting student and Lee Strasberg devotee, with my coach and close friend, Walter Lott, I walked into a little temple in the Hollywood Hills and saw … for the first time … a truly holy person.
And thought, “if this produces THAT, I need to stay here”. That was all it took for me. I have NO idea, however, what turned the Beatles onto Eastern thought …
… And Ultimately to Yourself
I seemed to always know how to meditate. As a small child, I was happiest alone … breathing in nature (my house was the first block built in farm and swamp country … I trudged so many injured birds and squiggly lizards home that my mother thought I would be a vet) … and taking in things with all my senses.
I was always an artist … actually a painter early on … but in high school I discovered performing … and that opened the ultimate vista onto myself. Actually, I had studied singing from the age of 8, became a theatre major at UCLA, studied musical comedy, co-starred in a limited musical run Off-Broadway at 20, and was cast in yet another the following year.
During that time, I was also lucky to start my first acting classes with an icon … Uta Hagen, the original Martha in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. And began a more than 20-year training to hone my acting skills with the best coaches that ever lived (they just happened to be practicing in my era). What I didn’t realize was that I was honing life skills too.
Acting is about Mindfulness …
Acting training demanded that you dive deeply into your own psyche. Especially Strasberg’s Method.
You had to sit in a chair and become intimately aware of your body and your impulses. As well as stay consciousness of yourself for hours, fighting the desire to stop confronting the sensations that arose both physically and emotionally.
Struggling to find ways to focus and select your thoughts. As well as training your senses to submit to your wishes. All these things involved mindfulness.
Someone once described mindfulness in this way … “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us”. It dawned on me when I read those words that acting was kind of mindfulness in reverse.
In acting, we become fully present and aware of what we’re doing but instead we’re turning up the volume on our reactivity and yet able to control it in such a way that it makes a well-rehearsed piece appear as if it’s happening for the first time.
In my later acting coaching I strayed away from teaching Method (although I was once touted as the best Method coach in L.A) to a little-known technique formulated in the 1950’s by a Polish director, Jerzy Grotowski. Grotowski did something very unique … he took yoga, an inward discipline, and reframed as an outward one to make it work for actors.
I began to understand that all acting training, whether it was Lee’s, Uta’s, or Grotowski’s was about finding impulse so that you could confront life with a greater connection to yourself. And that that finding impulse was closely aligned with mindfulness in general.
Presenting the Micro-Mindfuls™
I’ve said my whole life that I’m forever grateful for all that acting training. Shelley Winters, one of my coaches, once told me, “You’re fantastically talented, but over-trained … go get a job!”
I did, but was also blessed with that overtraining. Because it allowed me to sense life in all its tantalizing aspects. That’s why I created the Micro-Mindfuls™.
I have several meditation apps on my phone. But always find that I’m digging around for one appropriate for the situation I’m in (i.e. heightened stress, relaxed sleep, etc.) and the time I have (usually less than 5 minutes). So I don’t use them often.
I instead wanted to a) create snippets of mindfulness activities (2-3 minutes … perhaps even less) and, b) most of all make them SEQUENTIAL (beginning with simple breathing and go deeper, deeper, and deeper …) just as my acting training had been for me.
Eventually, they’ll also be audios so you can plug in your earphones and spend a short time cooling down your stress and becoming more aware of just about everything.
I originally thought of this idea as a vital part of my “Are you Weighting?” program. But, just as I found in my acting training that working on opening my senses and confronting myself in a deep way has made my life a wonder, I also thought that this would work for ANYONE who wanted to experience theirs in a more profound way.
So … here they are. Eventually, they’ll be more polished … and only audio, because that’s what you need anyway.
But I kinda like their spontaneity. Click here to access them. And … guess what … the bonus one is actually the first Strasberg’s Method exercise repurposed. Just as Grotowski repurposed yoga for his own training.
All of my programs now begin and end with mindfulness. As I believe that it’s a vital tool for anyone losing weight. But it’s also the path to all types of healing … not only physical but mental and soulful too.
I’ve had amazing results with those I’ve been treating for eating disorders. Mindfulness has given my latest client the courage to change deeply entrenched binging-purging behaviors. The turnabout has been nothing short of miraculous in a very short time.
Would love to talk to you about whatever’s going on with you. Why don’t you sign up for my Let’s Talk HEALTH session … a full assessment of your health that used to cost $200 for NOW less than a quarter of the price.
Let’s DO IT! That is, if you’re interested in changing your life … and your weight … for the better.
So what do you think of the idea of mindfulness? Experts are touting it as the solution to weight loss. Have you ever tried meditation or mindfulness? What was your experience?