Why should an actor meditate?

When we say someone has “presence” what we mean is that they are present—the concentrated focus of their awareness on the now is evident. This is an awareness cultivated readily in meditation. Not surprising then, that the list of actors who meditate is long and impressive – from Clint Eastwood to Naomi Watts, Jeff Bridges to Gweyneth Paltrow, Orlando Bloom to Eva Mendes, Hugh Jackman to Russell Brand.

Jeff Bridges has been quoted as saying he enjoys meditation because “…it’s good to block out external stimulus for a set amount of time because, for one thing, it enhances the experience when you are stimulated by something. It brings dynamics into your life. If you allow yourself to stop, you also realize how much stimulus is coming from within you.”

The dude knows what he’s talking about. From within you, man. This is where your choices originate— with one choice, the choice to be present, which may mean to ignore the ‘stimulus’ or to harness it. And in making that choice all your other choices become stronger. We all want to make strong choices, bold choices, choices that are organic and come from within.

I started a daily meditation practice 5 years ago. I have not only had less illness and better sleep, but also have become more aware of my thoughts (both in character and in life) and have become more capable of relaxing at an audition, on camera, or in the presence of mind-blowing, potentially intimidating colleagues.

If you still aren’t convinced, there is also hard science around meditation. As evidenced by Scientific American’s Nov. 2014 cover story — written by French Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard and neuroscientists Antoine Lutz and Richard Davidson — the latest neuroscience research reveals the ways mindfulness creates changes in the brain to improve focus and reduce stress–two things every actor needs to accomplish if s/he is going to succeed at a meaningful level.

If you are ready to raise your consciousness and your game, start wted ith five minutes a day. Or, whatever amount of time is a realistic goal for you. Maybe you’re one of those who can’t sit still and one minute seems like a life time. That’s okay. All the more reason to tackle it. After a few weeks increase your time. And after a few more weeks increase it again. Repeat this until you get to 30 minutes. If you are up for the next challenge, at that point you may want to start meditating twice a day!

There is no “wrong” way to meditate. What’s important is to be consistent. But there are many options, many types of “pracitce.” See what works for you. I started with these helpful free guided meditations from UCLA. I attended a workshop with Jeff Kober (also an actor), and with Kim O’Kelley Leigh. Though I have not been myself I recently met an instructor from Against The Stream and really loved what he had to say. There are many sources for information on meditation, seek and you shall find.

Don’t just take it from yours truly and a bunch of A-listers— try it out for yourself. Go ahead. Make my day.


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Comments (2)

  1. Ashley

    Great article! I recently took a workshop at Act Now with CD Josh Einsohn and we discovered we learned to meditate from the same teacher– Emily Fletcher, a colleague of Jeff Kober (who I have also practiced with and he is wonderful!)

    If anyone reading this article is interested, Emily is giving a free intro talk tomorrow at:
    Flight Theatre at the Complex
    6476 Santa Monica Boulevard
    Los Angeles, CA 90038

    The talk covers the history of the practice, what makes it so powerful and how the course works. After the talk, if you feel inspired you can sign up for the four day course that runs Thurs-Sun (AM and PM sessions available). Only 2 hours a day for 4 days and you will graduate an expert meditator with access to a lifetime of follow up.

    More info at zivameditation.com 🙂

    • Thanks for your response Ashley! Love that Josh Einsohn, and I had no idea he was a meditator! Cool. Funny, I’m in Paris now and Jeff Kober’s episode of CSI was on last night. And I’m so thrilled to see this Emily Fletcher is teaching meditation IN A THEATRE! Everything is happening in perfect divine order : )

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