How Meditation can Help Acting
One of my main passions in life is acting. There is something very magical about it, which is probably why it has such a wide appeal on many people. A lot of the magic in acting comes from the fact that acting allows you to create your own reality. For a few moments, minutes or hours this reality becomes alive and tangible. It is like playing God, isn?t it? On stage we become the creators of our own miniature world. A world as real as lighting, stage props, costumes, sound, the skill of the actor and the imagination of the spectator allow it to be. We can be a prince, a king, a saint or ? sometimes even more desirable ? a villain of the deepest dye.
In the three years I spent studying acting at the national acting academy in Amsterdam I learnt a great deal about this wonderful art, whose purpose, as Shakespeare put it, consists of ?holding a mirror up to nature? ? a mirror through which we may see life from a different perspective and maybe arrive at a deeper understanding of it. Here I would like to talk about what it is that creates good acting and how meditation can help in developing our acting skills.
For acting can be learned. Although some inborn tendency, knack or talent for drama is helpful, it is not indispensable. Acting is a skill or let us say a capacity that can be developed.
The key to good acting is believability. In other words, the audience has to believe in what it sees. Not only that, it has to be convinced of the reality that we try to create. Because only if the audience is convinced is our performance most successful and enjoyable. Now how does the audience become convinced? Here we touch upon one of the fundamental laws, nay the very secret of acting. The audience becomes convinced only if the actor himself is convinced. We ourselves have to believe in the role or the character we create. We have to believe in every word that he or she utters. If we doubt our performance even for a fleeting second, if we allow a rift or division to arise between ourselves and the character we play and lose our sense of identification with it, the audience will immediately notice it and the performance will lose its power. Therefore to become good actors we have to develop the power of concentration and identification and at the same time overcome our self-doubt and insecurity.
And that is where meditation steps in to help. Through the regular practice of meditation we acquire the power of concentration. Our mind becomes clearer and more able to focus. As an actor this helps us to stay in character at all times. A clear and focused mind also helps us to memorize our lines better, an often overlooked but essential aspect of acting.
Aside from that that meditation also brings to the fore the qualities of sincerity and self-confidence in us. These qualities help our acting tremendously by giving our performance more depth and power. If we can pour our own sincerity into the words our character speaks and suffuse our acting with self-confidence, we can add much more life and colour to our performance. Here self-confidence does not mean overconfidence or haughtiness, but a deep rooted and healthy faith in ourselves. The more self-confidence we have, the less insecurity there will be. And the less insecure we are about our acting, the more convincing we will become as actors.
Sincerity and self-confidence are qualities which belong to our inner life. In other words they already exist inside us, we only have to become conscious of them and bring them to the fore. This can be done through the practice of meditation. My own spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy has commented many times that meditation can enhance our talents and capacities and that there is no limit to the progress we can make.
And last but not least, as in anything we wish to learn, we need to practise. Practise makes perfect, as they say, and that certainly holds true for acting. If you are genuinely interested in leaning how to act I would suggest you join a local amateur acting group. Or organize an evening of funny, improvisational skits with friends and family. You will be amazed by the hidden acting skills that will undoubtedly come to the fore.Abhinabha lives in Amsterdam, Holland. He is a meditation student of Sri Chinmoy and enjoys acting and running.