Understanding the complexity of your nervous system – and the importance of ‘relaxing’ it

What I’m about to say to you might seem to have little ostensibly to do with my acting classes in London, or even online. Nonetheless, whatever the nature of the coaching for which you join me, it is something that ought to be borne in mind. 

And that message is as follows: think of the last few years we have gone through. Does it ever feel to you at times that we have had two years, perhaps two and a half, largely marooned in semi-permanent “fight or flight” mode? 

To me, it certainly does. You might perceive yourself that the last few years have been ones of greater trepidation than you have undergone in many a year… perhaps even decades. Of course, every person’s story is different. But the above has been something of a common theme, and it is a state of being that is frankly ravaging our nervous systems. 

The vital role of acting classes for tapping into one’s instrument – now, and forever 

The fact is, as human beings, we are simply not designed to withstand this amount of sustained uncertainty. We aren’t programmed for this. 

Yes, even during what could be relatively considered ‘the best of times’, short-term events and circumstances can arise that can give our nervous systems a battering. And many of you reading this will be able to empathise, as it can feel almost inherent to the unpredictability of life in the acting profession. But that doesn’t mean you should, or even can, accept constant bombardment. 

In short, something must give. And I have designed my own acting classes in London and online to reflect the need for actors and artists to recharge, reflect, and give our systems a rest. Even more than that, the right acting classes can enable you to invest in your instrument, challenge your limitations, and share the rewards and tribulations of the actor’s journey. 

I know as well as anyone, that life can be trying enough as an actor. And for our own sakes, we need to take a stand against the ease with which this “fight or flight” mode can take over so much of our lives. Put another way, we must take the chance from time to time to take a deep breath – and I mean that literally. 

It is time to depart from that “fight or flight” mode 

If I may, I would like to suggest that you take a moment, right now, to help your nervous system relax. And it works quite simply. Put both your hands on the centre of your chest, one on top of the other, and breathe. Breathe, and breathe, and breathe, until you have returned to a more centred state. 

By being deliberate in breathing in this way, you are giving yourself permission to slow down and more importantly, getting your parasympathetic system working again. It is giving you time away from that “fight or flight” mode that has ground so many of us down. 

This basic relaxation exercise is at the core of great preparation for actors. It provides them with a means of “looking in” and “checking in” with themselves, which is an essential for any actor. 

Knowing what your body is experiencing is going to help you choose whether you can use it for that self-tape, casting, scene or take, or whether you instead need to change the rhythm to something deeper and more profound. 

But you won’t be able to do that if your nervous system is fraught. The purpose of such conscious breathing may be, at least in part, to get you “out of your head and back into your body”, but it is also essential for your artistic choices. 

My own acting classes in London and online are geared towards helping you manage all of that lingering uncertainty that is so dominating our lives at the moment, and threatening to cause major damage to the actor’s instrument. 

So, don’t undervalue the importance of taking care of that instrument. Instead, join me for the actor coaching that will allow you to ‘get busy’ – and hone your creativity, as part of your whole approach to life. Get in touch with me today, and let us see how we can work together.