I've been listening to an amazing and insightful podcast lately called, "Monster Baby" and I am absolutely hooked on what Ted DesMaisons and Lisa Rowland continue to explore: that there is a curious connection between the idea of mindfulness and the core principals of improv. They explore this convergence when talking about aging, the art of listening, harmony, change, healing and so many more realities we are all familiar with but sometimes struggle to figure out.
For me personally, with the self discovery I'm (delightfully) entrenched in right now, the discussions speak so truly and poignantly to me I often find myself smiling and muttering "yes!" and "totally agree!" while listening at the gym or in my car. (None of which bothers my inner-improv performer, but which sometimes makes me check for onlookers when I hear my inside voice outside my body.)
All in all, I am thrilled to have discovered the show by way of meeting Ted personally at the BATS holiday party last week, and am using it as a launching point for riteous exploration of my own - into mindfulness, spirituality, meditation, curiosity and awareness - all the while honing my skills as an performing improviser.
There is work to be done, no doubt, and I am thrilled by the prospect of what I am going to discover - and in some cases rediscover -about who I am and what I bring to this life.
For fun, I thought I'd list what I (and most improvisers) consider to be some "rules" of improv; mostly for my own good time, but also for anyone reading this who isn't familiar with the form. And remember, these are just what I've come up with (through my classes, reading, on my own.) Nothing codified or trademarked here.
Top 10 Rules/Principals of Improv
1.) Yes, and...
2.) Treat every offer as a gift
3.) Always make your partner shine
4.) Be bold/fearless
5.) Know when to be humble and take a back seat to your scene partners
6.) Listen and be mindful
7.) Be curious
8.) Embrace change
9.) Bring and share joy to/with the work
10.) Play, play, play!
And the list could surely go on. But even with the ten listed here, isn't it beautifully evident how these principals apply not only onstage but to life in general? Aren't we all kinder and gentler and more gracious with one another in practicing them?
Then we layer on mindfulness, and things get really juicy.
On the last episode of I listened to of Monster Baby, Ted cited Jon Kabat-Zinn's definition of mindfulness as, "Paying attention to the present moment on purpose, with curiosity and kindness to things as they are."
Whoa. Talk about saying "Yes and..."! Check out this video of Mr. Kabat-Zinn, where he talks about our obsession of being the "stars of our own movie" and how critical it is we step out of that judging mindset.
(For having just heard of this guy this morning, consider me a subscriber.)
My homework, as assigned to me by me today, is this:
- Focus on consciously activating my innate curiosity in everything I do
- Continue delving into mindfulness through my meditation, readings and explore ways to dive a little deeper
- Think through my definition of spirituality and divinity and ponder the ways I may already be practicing
- Live my improv principals honestly in every day life, thereby honing my skills as a performer
Homework, yes. But I am all in.