being in the moment when acting(picture above: my well read copy of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. My 6-year-old daughter stuck a 5 cent (Australian) coin to the front cover. I felt compelled to leave it there!)

If you google the term ‘how to be in the moment’ you’ll see nearly every link relates to spirituality. I believe creativity and being connected to your spirituality are one and the same. I’m not talking religious beliefs here.

But since I have a background in acting I’m going to going to keep this powerful question of “how to be in the moment when acting” specifically related to that… acting. So how do you be in the moment when your acting? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve? If so, please share.

If you haven’t read The Power of Now by Eckart Tolle then I highly recommend you do so. It is all about being in the moment. I’ve taken a few highly relative snippets from it for you to utilise when you’re trying to tap into being in the moment when acting.

Firstly, on page 24 he says “The mind is essentially a survival machine. Attack and defense against other minds, gathering, storing and analyzing information – this is what it is good at, but it is not at all creative. All true artists, whether they know it or not, create from a place of no-mind, from inner stillness. The mind then gives form to the creative impulse or insight… Thinking plays only a subordinate part in the brief, decisive phase of the creative act itself.”

In other words the key to finding the power of now or how to be in the moment, particularly when acting, is to stop thinking! To further add to this connect to your gut instinct and trust. Easy. So how do you stop thinking? You meditate. Now we’re heading off onto a bit of a spiritual tangent, but stay with me it’s a must.

EXERCISE 1:

On page 93, he suggests a little experiment, which I think you’ll find highly relevant. I’ve slightly enhanced it. Either lay or sit down in a comfortable position. One where if you nod off to sleep you won’t hurt yourself nor startle yourself awake. Then close your eyes and say to yourself: “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” Then become very alert and wait for the next thought. Be like a cat watching a mouse hole. What thought is going to come out of the mouse hole? Try it now.

How long did it take for your first thought to enter your head? And what thought was it? The more you practice this simple exercise (hopefully) the longer it takes for a thought to enter your head. This is practicing being in the moment.

To expand on the above and adopt some Eric Morris technique, as you lay or sit quietly waiting for your next thought use your senses and become aware of what sounds you can hear, what textures you can feel. But don’t label or judge them or even pass comment on them in your head. Just be aware that you can hear sounds and feel textures. Take some deep breaths to assist with maintaining focus and listen to your breathing.

EXERCISE 2:

Another great exercise to practice being in the moment is doing the dishes. What? No one does the dishes these days, I hear you say! Well I encourage you to do so. As you wash and wipe each dish one by one then place it to the side on the sink keep your mind entirely focused on what you are doing. Be aware, or alert, as to when your mind wanders off. When a thought or mental image enters your mind. Bring your mind back to the present moment and remind yourself to stay focused 100% on doing the dishes. Sounds easy but you may be surprised how many times your mind goes into fairy land.

Both of these exercises practiced on a daily basis will sharpen your skill at being in the moment. You’ll be so good at it that when you perform you’ll experience many epiphany’s or ‘aha’ moments. You know when you do a performance and afterwards you say something like, “I had no idea where that came from.” That’s you being in the moment and totally connecting to the state of being and inner stillness. Being totally open and honest with yourself. Trusting yourself.

I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the great acting coaches like Ivana Chubbuck and Eric Morris are drawing on Eckart Tolle and the like in their specific acting techniques because their style oozes being in the moment. Eric Morris in particular explores the five senses in human beings and the need to fine tune these areas to become a better actor. Jack Nicholson is a great Eric Morris fan.

Being in the moment when acting is a crucial key to finding your truth. It encourages listening and interactive skills. Highly important. Sometimes reactions are more important than the script. It’s NOT what’s written on a script that’s exciting. That’s where you as artists get to express yourself entirely and uniquely. If you haven’t already you should read the interview with Geoffrey Rush on acting technique and character development. He shares some great insights on how to get in character. This combined with being in the moment will fine tune your craft immensely.

In another blog post I’ll share with you ‘how to meditate: a 7-step process for actors‘. This is a tried and true technique that is not commonly taught. Many yoga teachers only ask you to lay down quietly and meditate. But how? Thanks to a great friend I’ll share with you what she taught me. I believe meditation a crucial step in connecting to your creativity.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Thanks for reading!