We have to embody the world we want to see. If we want less hate, less judgment and more compassion, then we have to hug more. We have to smile more. We have to shake hands more.
Sometimes, though, it’s hard to be “in” our bodies. Our society privileges the mental and we become mental. We experience a trauma and we numb out. Our emotions rattle us. We want an escape from pain, instead of just feeling the pain and moving through it. It’s hard to embody our ideals of love and compassion when it’s just hard to be in our bodies.
Yesterday, I was in an unfamiliar part of town and due to some circumstances beyond my control, I spent some extra time in the neighborhood, so I decided to get a massage to make use of the time. Like I’ve mentioned in some of my prior posts, I’ve been dealing with big girl life stuff and I am still carrying a great deal of tension. It shows up in my body. Even though I have a regular meditation regimen and a decent exercise regimen, my pent up stress, like me, is stubborn. Getting a massage gives me the opportunity to understand what stress my body is still holding onto.
A valued person in my life told me that I was the most sensitive person he knew and that I did a great job of hiding how sensitive I actually am. I didn’t get what he meant until yesterday, when as I was getting the massage a flood of thoughts and images, some not fun and relaxing, danced in my brain.
Ultimately, we have to embody self-forgivenesss and self-acceptance and self-love. I have to forgive myself for the mistakes I put my body through. I have to accept who I am today–not try and revivify or reconstruct who I was ten years ago. I have to love my injuries, both emotional and physical, enough to heal them.
One of the tasks of an actor is to embody a character. Not all humans walk and talk the same way. Not everyone holds tension in the same place. Not everyone has the same center of gravity. The ancient Greeks created a whole theory of personalities based on bodily awareness. Chekhov, one of the greats of the acting world, thought every human being has a “leading center” of their body, from which their urges and actions come from.
I am still learning where my actions and urges come from and that’s because it’s my business, literally, as an actor to do so. As we live and experience, our character is shaped and re-shaped hopefully for the better. Have you checked in with your body? What are you embodying?
Follow Actress & Producer Kristin West on her adventures, whether on a movie set, at a film festival or on her travels.