It’s always a breath away.
But we often forget this when we get stressed, tense our bodies and attempt to go for something big.
It almost seems counter-intuitive to relax when what we’re wanting seems to come from moments of committed self-exertion.
There were so many Gold-Medal moments that showed us how to win.
Swimmer, Missy Franklin, talked about Michael Phelps and how the key to his getting through his program and winning events was . . .
U.S. Track & Field runner, Sanya Richards, won the 400 meters. Prior to the Olympics, a NY Times article profiled her and illustrated how the key to her winning races was through . . .
In the story, a sports physiologist commented that runners who tense up during races run more slowly. They become less efficient biomechanically – expending the same amount of energy as someone who doesn’t tense up but don’t run as far.
Some coaches and doctors instruct runners to let their eyes droop during a race, hoping that if they relax their face, the rest of the body will follow.
And it will.
There is an acting equivalent.
Jack Nicholson says that, “Eighty-five percent of acting is you. The other 15% is relaxation so that you can access you.”
We are often unconscious of how we work against ourselves when we begin to strain and hold tension both physically and mentally.
When we have battles in our left brains telling ourselves “we suck” or “we’re talentless” or we become scared, our bodies take on the physical expression of that mental tension.
There is always a physical and emotional equivalent to the energy you give to mental resistance.
The Law of Thermodynamics says the energy has to go somewhere . . . and it does. It’s produced as waste and is known as entropy.
So for actors, that entropy is stored within us as tension, clenching of the jaw, shutting feeling down, not releasing the voice, straining, physically getting tight, narrowing the channel through which feeling can be released.
The only way you can be free of that resistance is first, knowing that you are tightening up and second, relaxing so you have access to all the other stuff that’s getting squeezed out in the first place.
You can begin to work optimally, tapping into all your innate potential, but in order to access it you have to relax.
Sometimes it’s as simple as remembering to breathe.
Sometimes it’s expressing the mental noise, outwardly. Whether that’s through a vocal release. A breath. Crying. Laughing. Letting go of a pure sound. Screaming. Shouting. Or getting physical.
Actually, all of these expressions are connected to breath so it’s a reminder that everything truly is a breath away.
So the next time you feel yourself getting tight or all your energy moving into your left brain and putting you into your head, do what Missy, Michael, Sanya, and all the rest of the Olympic champions do . . .