I have a friend who talks in the movie theater. I don’t enjoy going to the movies with her (bless her), because her commentary takes me out of the film. I am crying, or otherwise totally immersed, and she is opining about an actor’s performance or the musical score. It’s just not fun.
But really I’m talking about myself here.
Because we all have this judgmental ‘friend’ inside our psyches—it’s the same ‘friend’ for all of us—the armchair critic of our lives, sitting in sorta-like the top row of the theater—above your left shoulder—and attempting to rewrite this perfectly good drama, this perfectly embarrassing comedy that is my life, your life.
This amateur critic is way more annoying than my friend. It's assessment is boring, predictable, & vague (like every amateur critic's viewpoint is), and generally comes down to the notion that something in the current scene needs improvement; something is wrong. That this would all be better if ________. (Check out this Jeff Foster video on right now being the perfect movie scene of your life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSgr59PeYZQ&t=6s)
And we give this hack our attention!....why? Because we seem to believe its’ opinion is important, and the critic itself really sells us on its’ importance—it is loud and insistent (or maybe quietly self righteous…telling you that you should be ‘mindful’ or some other nonsense), but it's not actually discerning or helpful at all...it's just critical, just judgmental.
So, what IS this voice? It is the voice of fear. Fear calls everything a problem. That's its' job. It is never satisfied, never rests. Fear is trying to get the movie of your life back into a familiar, safe script. Being off-script is perceived to be dangerous, problematic. (Check out this video from Kiran Trace about our addiction to fear: http://kirantrace.com/blog/addicted-to-fear/)
Fear is trying to get back to a familiar script—even if it is actively hurting us, even if our actual character (body) is wanting something completely different---because in our past, when the ‘scene’ of our lives was a particular way, we paired that ‘scene’ with the feeling of being safe and cared for. For example, maybe our mother calmed down when we were ‘strong’—even though we wanted to cry—so we shut down our own needs & emotions, in order to remain safe & attached. We read the implied script from our mother's face & nervous system...and we played the part. Scripts that say we should be ‘strong’ or ‘nice’ or ‘good’ or ‘responsible’ (or thousands of other roles we didn’t agree to play), are thus still being suggested by this fear voice, in order to (seemingly) keep us safe and attached.
But when we listen to the narrator (the fear voice), it never goes well. Because this narrator has no business messing with the characters’ scenes—it isn’t a writer, it’s a critic. It is just looking for problems. The narrator (fear) cannot write the film. It narrates the film after the fact. It has no idea what is happening with the characters because it isn’t in the movie.
The only way to enjoy your life (your 'movie') is to experience it from inside your character, from inside the body, as well as see through, and disengage from, the voice of the narrator. The natural voice of our character doesn’t have the amateur critic vibe; rather, it speaks from within, from the character’s actual point of view & sensory experience—like method acting or improv, in which the actors are learning the characters as they go. They allow the scene to play out, to have its own life, discovering the end of the line while they are delivering it. No script.
Yesterday I had a very in the scene conversation with my husband—an honest, painful-at-times, and liberating conversation. We sorted through a lot of the narration in our minds— stuff we project onto each other. What I noticed at the end of our talk, and as I sit here writing this, is that I can’t find a judgmental thought. I can’t find a strong opinion. I can’t believe my mind right now...about my husband, or anything else, really. I’ve been too on its’ ass lately. For now I’m not engaging with the chatter—the list of ‘rewrites’ in the movie of my life. The rewrites/narration is there---kind of hanging around, angling for attention, but so what? There's always that guy in the theater. He's entitled to be there. But right now I am too into the sweetness of this particular scene—the improvisational performance piece that is right now, on a couch during a winter evening. I am simply enjoying the beautiful arc (without knowing the script) of this film that seems to have it all…warmth, pathos, heartbreak…big, ridiculous pratfalls…
So let’s try really getting into your scene. How do method actors & improvisers 'warm up'? They get into the body, they practice accessing sensation.
Feel into your body. Feel your breath. Feel your feet.
Feel the field of energy in your whole being. And feel the spacious field that the energy comes from--the vast space that holds your character up, that aerates & permeates everything.
And notice that this character is alive, it’s awake! You can wake up in the film of your life and enjoy the movie. You can get fully immersed in this one frame, this one scene. I swear, it is the perfect improvisational film—it so much more interesting than that script being suggested to you by that annoying moviegoer over your shoulder. And more than that, it is actually your favorite film, starring your favorite character...of all time!
Here are some tools from Judith Blackstone to help you come into your body and out of the narration of the movie:
If you want to learn these & other tools in person, come join my ‘Awake Body, Quiet Mind’ group on July 17th. Learn more and sign up here: