A key thing I am learning is the power of presence. You would think, as an actor, I’d be an expert but it’s never been something that has come naturally.
The moments of being completely ‘in the now’ in the rehearsal room, on set or on stage can be fleeting and illusive but I know the power I have when I succeed. It’s an amazing feeling to know you have the attention of each person in the room.There is nothing like watching an accomplished performer hold you in their eyes.
It’s difficult to sustain. I often think that actors must find it the most difficult to stay present when being on show like that often comes with such high stakes. There’s anxiety, fear of rejection, terror of the immense vulnerability it takes to be emotionally available in such a public space.
It’s integral to a great performance. And I’m learning that’s it is integral to life! To parenting especially. Small children have limited attention spans and you aren’t completely ‘there’, they won’t hear a word you say. That’s when I usually resort to bellowing, which never achieves the desired result.
So I am practising presence little by little in the every day. Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, gives a very simple exercise to bring one into the present moment. He suggests simply becoming aware of the palms of your hands.
Try it now. Become aware of the palms of your hands. Here you are. Hello there. There is no past, no future. There is just this moment. It’s rich with possibility. Stay here for a while.