An excerpt from the book “Meet Your Playful Self” – Personal Experiments – Playing with Others
Experiment # 4
Being as in human…The intention of being
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt
– William Shakespeare “Measure for Measure”
You have experienced an important facet of yourself as you experimented with yes…and … in the exercises above. When listening, we are continually influenced by habitual judgments that we are not even aware of. You’ve discovered that when you move through your life without watching you lose the possibility to make a choice.
In the opening of this book we talked about how the dictionary definition of improvisation seemed to leave out an important aspect of meeting your playful self. The dictionary suggests that improvisation arises when we are forced to make it up due to circumstances well beyond our control; when the bride catches her dress on a nail. We cannot be intuitive by merely making the decision: “Ok, I want to be intuitive now”, but neither do we need to wait for fate to cause the unexpected, like getting our clothes caught on a nail and leaving us in our underwear. We can decide to be watchful and open up the possibility of choice.
As you experimented with taking the action of using yes…and…, you discovered you can choose to do things that will lead to an intuitive and more fun and playful place.
By intention, you are playing games, learning exercises, and putting yourself in situations that set you up or trick and tickle you into the leap into playfulness. Even though, you may not experience an intuitive leap in every exercise, you are making the decision or expressing the willingness to do something extraordinary; to take a personal risk which is likely to lead you to a playful place. You did something new and important choosing to do a specific action, even though it may have felt uncomfortable, with the goal of arriving at a playful awareness.
The next intention we will encounter is even more subtle and powerful ; the intention of being.
The very thought of being silent can be a cause for anxiety. Now, why is that? Why do we feel we must fill every waking moment with conversation, tasks, or assertive action? Why might we tend to equate silence with restlessness and boredom?
You are not alone in this reaction. The students in Sanford Meisner’s class felt that same way and he addressed the boredom and restlessness he saw in their faces in the quote:
“Look, I’ll tell you why the repetition exercise, in essence, is not boring: it plays on the source of all organic creativity, which is the inner impulses.”
Within this quote is that powerful droopy word, from which our anxiety springs in a moment of silence: boring.
I remember suggesting ideas of things to do with a group of my son’s friends when he was in middle school; We could build a snow man”, or :”We could make chalk drawings on the side walk”. I was met with their chant in unison; “Booooring.” I could relate to the same frustration expressed by Meisner as he tried to ignite his students to move into the intuitive when he says: “I wish I could make that clear!”
What is the bridge between boredom and being? If you experience inactivity or silence as boring as did the students in Meisner’s acting class, what can we do? You already know that you can trick yourself into a playful place by experimenting with intention of yes…and…. why not trick yourself out of restlessness and boredom with the intention of “being” by applying it as a playful trick or tickle that will move you into silence with an intention. You might just find yourself in a quiet place that is not boring, but is peaceful and comfortable.
The first thing to do as you practice being silent is to get relaxed and comfortable in a relatively quiet place. I say relatively because those places seem fewer and farther between in our lives. When all else fails, a hot bath tub, with the door closed will do just fine.
Experiment # 4
Playing with an image
Once you are comfortable, close your eyes and simply think of a moment in your life that was important to you. It can be joyous and happy; like a graduation from high school, or sad; like discovering you did not make the basketball team, or dangerous; like the time you nearly drove off the bridge. It does not make any difference so long as it is one of those important moments from your past that crops up easily.
Next, you see just one picture of that moment like a snap shot.
Just close your eyes and relax with that snap shot image. Do not try to find it and think: there it is I am done.
Relax and move into the image by focusing on the details and the details within and around the details.
Once you have the snap-shot image firmly in your mind, open your eyes and hold the image before you. Even though your eyes are now seeing the walls and pictures of the physical room, hold the image in your mind.
As you are holding the image, allow it to play through the memory.
Whatever image you have chosen will want to move and develop through the whole action. Just let it move through and watch it as though it is a movie.
Move through the experience as though you are sharing it with another. Hold it as long as you can.
Congratulations! You just experienced being silent without boredom. What did you notice about the passage of time as you were experiencing silence?