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How to Appreciate the Power of Stillness and Being Present

By Joanie Marx October 25, 2021 Lifestyle

You know how you can flip through a calendar and certain dates jump out at you because of their personal significance? For me, November 8th never did, that is until the night I found myself under the blaze of emergency room lights in a hypertensive crisis.

I wondered how I ended up in the hospital as the emergency room nurse attached electrodes to my chest for the continuous EKG.

Oh, that’s right, my mother was dying and there was nothing I could do to stop it. My marriage and business were in crisis. And my acting career was about to take off, but there were no guarantees it would succeed.

It’s true, I certainly had felt the increasing weight of the stress, but the real reason I was in the hospital was because I didn’t feel it was important enough to take time out to care for myself.

I did what so many of my generation were taught to do. I kept my nose to the grindstone, eyes focused on the task at hand, and I plowed ahead.

Rewrite Your Life Story

With the doctors believing I might die, I knew something had to change. Unlike my past, this would not come from a flurry of non-stop activity.

The question, “Now what?” rose up, leaving me with little answers as to what my life would be like moving forward.

In the weeks following my release from the hospital, I found myself immersed in deep introspection, searching for some answers. That is when I first heard the words, “rewrite your life story.” It was spoken to me from that place I had come to know as my inner, authentic self.

All I could counter with was, “How do I do that?”

Growing up, few of us were given a manual for how to rewrite any part of our life story. And fewer still were granted the support and encouragement to work through the emotional baggage that was steadily building up as we grew older.

Not surprisingly, when massive change is afoot in our life, the question, “Now what?” doesn’t always open a floodgate of answers. And if you are anything like me, the initial silence can be scary.

Living Under Imaginary Circumstances

Despite the success I had enjoyed in my life, going to the hospital re-introduced me to a hidden truth. I was not living truthfully in my own life, as I had been living under imaginary circumstances. My upbringing had not prepared me for what I was going through, and neither had my schooling.

In moments of great change, everyone has their own set of coping mechanisms. Some turn to religion and pray while others lean on spirituality and meditation. And some gravitate to destructive vices to medicate the pain.

For me, I found myself learning to make conscious choices through a valuable set of acting tools. I had never thought about how acting tools could translate to real-life situations, least of all my own. Following my intuitive instincts, I felt it was as good a time as any to put them to use in the reality of my personal life.

3 Acting Tools for Being Still and Present

Here, then, are three fundamental acting tools that are easily applicable to making positive changes to any area of your life you choose.

Be Still

This requires slowing down the mind and the body, which helps you abstain from confusing activity with accomplishment. Great acting performances are less about staged activity the audience may see, and more about being still, especially prior to the director calling for ‘action’.

In your own life, this translates into not always feeling inclined to take physical action right away to get what you want. By being still, both in mind and body, you create the space for the answer for what to do next to gracefully show up with little to no resistance.

Be Present

Acting is living truthfully under imaginary circumstances. An actor that is fully present in the moment is aware of being vulnerable to the power and emotion the script evokes. This only happens when actors are in the present moment, and it directly applies to real life.

In your own life, this translates into being in tune with what your inner critic and inner, authentic voice are sharing. In so doing, you become aware of what emotions are serving your desires and supporting your intentions for change, making it easier to take inspired action from a place of empowerment.

Be Receptive

For an actor to authentically portray their character, they must be in a state of receptivity during each scene. This means being open to what shows up in the moment. For instance, improvise if need be, but always flow with what is unfolding rather than being rigidly stuck to what was in the script.

To get present with any part of your life you seek to change or improve, means being open to embracing each moment without trying to control it. At first, this can be a little uncomfortable. The more you practice being open to receive what is coming up for you the easier it will be to rewrite any area of your life.

What difficulties have you gone through recently? Have you found yourself emotionally and mentally exhausted? How did you put a stop to it? Have you been taking better care of yourself since? In the comments below, I invite you to share your personal experiences with how you have applied the aforementioned techniques while navigating change in your own life.

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The Author

Joanie Marx is a three-time bestselling author and renown Storytelling Magician™, who has enjoyed a 30-year career as a character actress in Hollywood. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in Psychology, and a leading authority on refocusing and renewing your life.

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