Confession: I am addicted to inspirational stories. I subscribe to all the podcasts (Oprah’s SuperSoul Coversations, The RobCast, Magic Lessons, On Being, The Deconstructionists…) and I love all the inspirational people (yes Oprah, Glennon Doyle, Rob Bell, Krista Tippett, Elizabeth Gilbert…).
I find motivation and comfort in hearing how others have walked through the fire and come out the other side. These stories help me process my own journey, provide insight and inspiration in my work, and make me feel deeply connected to myself and my fellow humans.
Side Note: We all feel this way about inspirational stories. I think it’s because these stories are the essence of the human existence; the quest, the struggle and challenge as we discover truth, and the growth that allows us to emerge stronger than we were before. To quote Glennon Doyle, “first the pain, then the rising”.
These stories have been told to us since the beginning of time. We find them in the Bhagavad Gita, Greek mythology, the Bible, Little Women, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter…
They are a part of who we are. We live these stories every day. Maybe more on this in a future post. 😉
Recently, I was blown away by an interview with India.Arie on Orpah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast.
Over two episodes, India.Arie describes her past struggles with performing and feeling disconnected from herself and how ultimately, this lead her to take a 4-year break from the music industry.
While there are many great take-aways from this interview, the biggest lesson in her story was how slowing down and taking a break allowed her to reground, refocus and return to performing as a stronger person.
Now we all “know” that slowing down and taking breaks is important. We “know” this because we’ve been told this 1000 times over by our teachers, coaches, therapists, parents, and partners. But regardless of how much we “know” this to be true on a mental level; it’s difficult for most of us to “know” this on physical level. To actually do it.
For performers, there are many reasons for this.
One: performing is energizing work. That high we experience after the perfect show, a great lecture, or a winning game is addictive. So we keep pushing ourselves forward in search of that next surge of performance energy.
Two: performers are creatures of routine. We know the value of practice and rehearsal. We worry that if we take a break, we will lose our edge and that we may not be able to find it again.
Three: a performer’s life is not always their own. We are often subject to the will and schedule of others to do the work we love to do. We have to go when the jobs or competitions come up. We have to be available when the directors, coaches or agents tell us we need to work. We value the knowledge and experience of these leaders, and this can make it hard to say no to them.
But in reality, this high level of activity isn’t sustainable.
As India.Arie tells us, this constant striving, pushing and working for others ultimately drives us away from ourselves. We lose the authenticity of our work and the motivation that drove us to perform, compete or speak in the first place.
Slowing down and taking a break is the antidote to this.
It provides us with space to breathe, to reflect on our choices, and ensure that the decisions we make are in line with our values.
It sounds good. And it works.
For India.Arie, her time away from the music industry allowed her to heal her body from the stress of performing, release her mind from destructive thought patterns, and connect her heart with the spiritual practices that now guide her life.
She returned to performing music more confident, more creative and more authentic. It’s obvious is the way she speaks and the way she handles her critics. But it’s also obvious in her music.
So do yourself a favour. Slow down, take a break.
Turn off your phone alerts, close your computer, put down your script and take a day off the gym. Spent time in nature, meditate or journal, and connect with the people that love and inspire you.
You won’t regret it.
And you just might come out the other side of it a better, stronger and more authentic performer.
In personal news, I am taking India.Arie’s lesson to heart and taking a break for the next two weeks to rest, restore and renew from my busy summer. I’ve been doing some deep discernment lately about how to grow Five Winds to better serve all performers and I’ll be bringing forward some of these new ideas in the fall.
But first, a break. 😊
In the meantime, you can check out Oprah’s entire conversation with India.Arie in the link below. Make some space to slow down, take your own break and give it a listen.
It’ll do you good.
P.S. This work that India.Arie speaks of: regrounding, refocusing and connecting with yourself to become a stronger and more authentic performer is the heart of the work that I do with clients of Five Winds. If these sound like things you would benefit from working on, I’d love to work with you. Send me a message here, and let’s get started. 🙂
Act(ing) Mindfully is a part of my work with Five Winds. It’s a space where I explore the connection between performance and energy, and offer tips and ideas on how to stay balanced and healthy (body, mind, emotions and spirit) while living the life of a performer.