Acting Adage as a Catalyst for Change
I don’t know if you knew but once upon a time I was a serious actor. Not only a serious actor but I helped make a children’s theatre a resounding success. And ran the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute here in L.A. for a time. As well as being an observer at the fabled Actor’s Studio.
Why am I bringing that up? Because the phrase, “What’s my motivation?” has become a Method acting … the technique Lee developed based upon Stanislavski’s teachings … slur. It intimates that actors don’t know what to do and need someone to tell them. In reality, figuring out your motivation and then “acting” upon it is the cornerstone of acting creativity and craft. As well as the deep link to humanity that makes us marvel actors millennia after millennia.
Then … sitting here on Christmas day next to my lit-up lavender-and-silver tree wondering what to write, it dawned on me. In the New Year, it might be a better thing if you figured out your motivation instead of your resolution for whatever change you’d like to make in 2017. It’s a kind of “What’s my Story?” codicil. And it MAY be the gateway to PERMANENT transformation. As we all know that resolutions … like diets … don’t work.
And, being so, it wants daily practice and concentration. For example, my motivation is to learn to love and accept my body in 2017. It DEFINITELY is about my lifelong story about not thinking I’m beautiful, worthy, or otherwise a vessel for joy and love.
If you haven’t seen the documentary, Embrace, DO IT! Especially if you’re a woman. Yes, the message is about body acceptance. But the take-away for ME was that these women who did accept themselves were so full of joy … living life on their own terms free of all the restrictions that culture heaps upon us. I had NEVER seen that before to that extent … it was MY motivation!
And … true to the TV show Sunday Morning being a truth-teller and mirror for me … there was a segment on Boy’s Town. It’s been around changing the lives of delinquent youths for over 100 years … I remember a 1939 film of the same name with Spencer Tracy … an actor who definitely knew HIS motivations.
In the segment, the interviewer asked, “How do you avoid being another person coming in and telling them all the things they’re doing wrong?” One of the interviewees stated, “By telling them all the things they’re doing right … that’s how you help kids change … a little praise goes a long way.”
RIGHT ON! That’s how you help people change … by believing in them. And that’s how YOU change … by believing the “right” in you and “praising” it.
Coincidentally, there was another segment about a water tower that was used as a “sounding board” for singing and music. A water tower that, like my Tibetan singing bowls, resounded acoustically as ancient cathedrals did. As well as Tibetan monks, who were taught to sing in chords from a very early age. Someone’s rendition of “Amazing Grace” in that tower made the prickly hairs on my neck stand on end. The way they did when I was witnessing a truly great actor.
And I got the message that my Tibetan singing bowls HAD to be a part of my daily practice. After all, they’re tuned to the chakras … the seven energy centers of the body according to Tibetan and Indian spirituality.
Which brings us to the Dalai Lama. He was on Sunday Morning too. He’s got a new book out, The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World. I sent it to my Kindle immediately. I’ve always admired him and have several of his books. Every time I see him I DO believe that he IS the reincarnation of whatever holy men came before. Just as, in certain circles, people believe that Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and other avatars are all reincarnations of the same enlightened spirit.
What I loved about the interview is the simple inspiration he always gives. He finds harmony through humor. Humor saved my life as I grew up totally alien in a humorless household. And, even though I was a trained Method actress, couldn’t get a job until I focused upon my comedic skills. As I did in life. Yes, I was the class clown. And I’ve lost that spark over the years. So finding my humor is another piece of my daily practice puzzle … and laughter. After all, the Dalai Lama DID say in closing … “Finding solidarity, peace, and joy starts with engaging those right beside us”.
OK … here’s my idea for daily practice. First, lots of reading about body image. I just finished the Embrace book … and the movie starts home-livestream in 2017. I also just got Deepak Chopra’s course on reinventing the body … Of course, part of this journey has GOT to include exercise, which means I actually have to clean out my spare room to make my machines more accessible.
And … of course … I need to journal. And meditate/visualize. So a well-rounded motivation should entail some reflection with reading, meditation, and visualization. As well as action … in the form of personal interaction, humor, and moving my body in a positive way. And I won’t forget the Tibetan singing bowls. As well as the brand-new Djembe drum I just ordered as a holiday present for myself. I’m fired up already!
So what’s YOUR motivation? It should be based upon some passion you have. If there’s no passion right now … and mine waxes and wanes too … start noticing the signs like I did. What do they tell you to focus upon? Then meditate upon what your daily practice will be to keep the spark alive. Are YOU fired up too?
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What’s YOUR motivation? If you don’t have one, what are your passions? If you don’t think you have passions, what is life telling you to focus upon? What daily practice can you then devise from all of that focus?