In this busy, multitasking world, it’s healthy to unplug and reset your mind every once in awhile. One way to do this is to set aside a few minutes a day to meditate. Meditation is a mental tool you can use to keep you focused, help you cope with stress and anxiety, and keep you grounded in the present.

The life of an actor is often a hectic one. You’re balancing going on auditions with working on set, creating your own content, and working a day job. Much of that time is spent inside your own head– memorizing lines, adopting characters, and judging yourself on your performances. Meditation is a way for you to get out of your thought cycle and refocus your attention to the world around you.

So what is meditation and how do you do it? Meditation is the practice of focusing on the present moment and what is happening within yourself. It also cultivates mindfulness in your daily life. Research has shown that meditation helps promote focus, build emotional intelligence, and enhance creativity.

Think about it, don’t your best ideas come to you in the shower or while driving (during those autopilot kind of drives, not the rush hour stuck in traffic for 2 hours drives…) when your mind is at rest? Meditation helps you purposefully achieve this restful state.

There are several different types of meditation, the most basic of which is mindfulness meditation which encourages awareness of your surroundings by rooting you to the now. This can be achieved through breath awareness and body scanning. With breath awareness, the key is to regulate your breathing by creating a steady pattern of deep, slow breaths, letting yourself feel the air flowing in and out of your lungs. You can center your focus on the sensation breathing provides or by counting your breaths as you go. As the feeling starts to sink in, it’s okay if your mind starts to wander as long as you try not to get stuck on any one thought for too long.

Body scanning is the practice of “scanning” your body from head to toe to bring your attention to areas of tension with the goal of releasing it. The key here, is to try to methodically relax your body. Some practices used to achieve this relaxation include tensing and then relaxing the affected muscles, and imagining a wave washing over you, melting away your tension as you mentally scan your way up and down your body.

Many celebrities practice meditation as part of their health routines including Jennifer Aniston who has been lauded for being ever radiant and is a huge proponent of self care, as well as Hugh Jackman who has said the practice of Transcendental Meditation (a type of spiritual meditation with the goal of transcending your current being) changed his life.

In an interview with Oprah.com, Hugh Jackman said meditating helped him gain a true understanding of himself– “[I] was no longer just being reactive to events that came my way. I felt a sense of calm, a sense of purpose, of finer energy in things I did.”

So how can you start practicing meditation? The easiest way to start is by downloading one of the many apps that feature guided meditations as well as gentle timers to pull you out of the meditative state. You can find a list of the best meditation apps here. The most recommended app is Headspace for its easy and pleasing interface and variety of guided meditations including a ten-day guide for beginners.

This app does have a monthly fee, but it gives you a free 30-day trial which may be enough time for you to get the hang of it before branching out on your own… (you’re an actor, I get it. You don’t need to pay for things that aren’t essential). The trick is to practice meditation daily so that it becomes a habit. Designating a set time to meditate such as in the morning after you wake up or later before you go to bed, is important.

And if the thought of spending 5-10 minutes a day not doing anything seems daunting, you can start off small by squeezing a bit of mindfulness into your daily life– whether you find that time while brushing your teeth, keeping your focus on your brush strokes, or while in the waiting room at an audition, tuning everything out except your breath– just the smallest move toward mindfulness can improve your daily mood. And you can definitely benefit from a sense of calm before walking into the casting room, and learning to harness that calm in every project you do.  

 

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