AND MILES TO GO BEFORE I SLEEP
June 7, 2007.
I started a meditation program almost two weeks ago. I’m very excited about it and it’s been wonderful so far but it’s also bringing a lot of junk to the surface. I write a lot about fear on this blog so I’m well aware of my hang-ups. But it’s one thing to know something and quite another to do something about it.
In my reading I’m learning more about the Internal Map of Reality that we all carry around with us. This is the story we tell ourselves about who we think we are- the core beliefs, values, and opinions that we have formulated since childhood in order to keep us feeling safe and to help the world make sense. The only problem with this is when our Map fails us in some way- if it limits us or keeps us from realizing our full worth and potential. When I start to see and understand how my Map is failing me, then it’s time for a new Map. But the Ego is threatened by such attempts to change and, internally, it can feel like a fight for survival.
The other thing I’m learning is that the Map is not the Territory. In other words, we are so much more than what we think we are. My limiting beliefs about myself are not actually real- they are outmoded coping mechanisms that somehow, over time, became how I defined myself.
So these fears that I knew I had, particularly regarding my worth as a person and as an actor, have become absolutely paralyzing in the past week. They are fighting to stay alive and will stop at nothing to retain their power. This manifested in a few different ways. My second workshop with Michael should have been great because the agent actively recruits from workshops and likes to work with acting students. But when I heard that I actually had a shot with an agent, I completely shut down and both Michael and I failed to commit fully to the scene.
I wanted to audition for a Shakepeare play that I would have done well in. But the thought of having to perform a monologue for the audition threw me into a panic. I went back and forth over whether I should even go to the audition. Then, the night before, I had two identical nightmares about a woman who, at the audition, looked me up and down and told me they couldn’t anything with me because of how I looked. The day of the audition I forced myself to go but failed to find the actual building where the auditions were held. It was a confusing address and one that I couldn’t make sense of until I got back home. But I was relieved to have missed it and didn’t even attempt to go on the second day. A few days later I got called in to audition for a 35mm short film. That happens on Saturday and already my mind is telling me that it’s pointless to go because I won’t get it.
Last night I was slated to begin a new scene for acting class- one that requires big risk and commitment. Even though I’ve wanted to do the play for years, I was freaked out by the thought of it and so happy when my scene partner called to say he couldn’t make class this week. Tony had me work on something else. He stopped me a lot to give me direction and to really work with me on taking time with my lines and allowing myself to live fully in each moment. He said that my technique is really good but that I rush through things in order to stay in control. He said, because of that, I seem slightly distanced from the material and am not fully present and living as the character. I often think that there is no emotion attached to what I’m doing and that’s why I rush- because I can’t feel anything and it seems mechanical. But when I stopped and gave myself more time, I was flooded with all kinds of emotion and I didn’t know where the scene was going to take me. That was quite a startling revelation- to know that I did have something going on inside and that I was cutting myself off from it.
On my way home I started to beat myself up over the fact that this seems to be a recurring theme in my life- the way I hold myself apart from things. But then I remembered, from my study about meditation, that in addition to changing my Map of Reality I also need to become a Witness of my life. This requires me to take a step back and to watch what happens without casting judgment over it. I need to just observe and say, “Hmm. That’s interesting.” In taking a break from the self-criticism I find the space to become conscious of the stories I tell myself and to decide if they are beneficial or not. It’s actually become funny to see how desperately I cling to these ideas that I’m not good enough. I’m now aware of how, when I start to think positively, my mind stubbornly returns to its claim of inadequacy.
I’m also trying to accept one of the most basic principles of meditation, which is to let whatever happens be okay. I’m realizing how often I push myself to be in a different place than I actually am. I somehow think that my journey and my process is not good enough or fast enough. My resistance is the cause of my suffering. I need to relax, like a cork on the water, and let the waves carry me.