I have a secret passion. It’s acting. I first discovered acting while living, where else? Los Angeles. I spent four years studying Meisner technique at Playhouse West. Indulge me as I name drop. One of my first teachers was Jeff Goldblum. Completely disarming, he is as fabulously quirky and eccentric in real life as he is on screen. Which made for some very entertaining afternoons. I tell you this so you know my school had some serious street cred.
More importantly, the four years I spent studying acting were some of my most developmental. Meisner technique requires you know yourself on a deep level. Not simply what your favorite color is or what kind of food you like. Instead, if you do the work, you’ll learn what makes you sad. What makes you scared. What elicits emotional life. It was a transformative process. I also began diligently writing at this time. Writing is a way for me to uncover what may be true for me even when I don’t recognize it. It is my haven. Clearly, it’s still one of my favorite tools.
About a year ago, I decided I needed to do something that didn’t require I earn my keep. Something I truly enjoyed that I wasn’t trying to turn into a business. I happened to find a very reputable Meisner teacher here in Austin. I knew this is where I wanted to be.
My classes the past six months have been revelatory, no different than they were 10 years ago. Rusty at first, I eventually got back in the swing of things, and with the urging of my teacher, exposed an emotional life and freedom I haven’t felt in years. Every week is something new and every week I peel back another layer of this person I know to be ‘Jennifer’. It’s a lovely, revealing and often times, scary, process. It has taught me as much about myself as anything. Including yoga.
The other day, my partner and I were practicing repetition – the very foundation of Meisner technique. This very simple exercise, when done properly and with an observant partner, usually brings to light qualities or tendencies in yourself you haven’t yet seen – or been willing to see. My partner observed that I had helped her feel more at ease and comfortable and almost immediately also recognized how uncomfortable taking credit for comforting her made me. In that moment, I realized while I love teaching and enjoy guiding people to happier and healthier lives, I am very reluctant to claim credit.
My biggest fear is not success. My biggest fear is what will happen to me when I’m successful. My biggest fear is that if I accept praise for my accomplishments, I will seem proud and boastful. Eventually potentially become ungrateful. While I may acknowledge that I may have helped someone – I will not OWN it. It’s something I will continue to examine to understand. Do I posses a lack of self-confidence? Do I unconsciously reject others when I dismiss their gratitude or praise? Or can I gracefully accept a thank you and smile, knowing I helped someone, confident that I myself have done the work to be the kind of friend or partner that others truly want to be around?
What I do try to remember is that my gifts and talents are not mine to claim. They have been given to me to serve the greater good in any way I can. My job is to cultivate those gifts and talents so they may best serve my dharma, or purpose.
I am still questioning if I want to continue teaching as a vocation – at least in the studio or on the mat. I look forward to my reprieve for the next few months. Through all the distraction and noise in my meditations lately, there is one consistent message I hear. My only job for the next few months is to be open. Open to what spirit will lay in front of me. My only job right now is to listen.
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