Why Sitting Zen Is Good For Actors
Why do we sit zen at Theatre Dojo? In Japanese, the word for 'stage' literally means 'body of dancing.' The sense is that the empty space is the body, and actors are waves on its surface. The theatre space serves as a clear mirror on which a story or a non-linear form of expression is made accessible while stimulating the spectator's own creative awareness. In Zen meditation, simple awareness is recognized as a person's original state of mind and their true nature, over which waves of conditioned habits and desires appear to cover up our original clarity and harmony with our world. This "loss" is yet another illusion: our conditioning is a hindrance only to the extent that we identify with our surface personality and its desires. In Zen training, students practice a discipline of seated meditation every day, allowing the 'waves' to settle by themselves as they relax into their bodies' true center and release habitual thinking. We forgive our shortcomings and recognize that the whole world is the product of our thinking 'filters.' A Dojo-trained actor has access to their entire self. No character and no human fantasy can be a stranger to you, because you contain the entire universe. You can play Hamlet or a cartoon character or a chorister in an avant garde play, because it is all you. And you are rather wonderful.