In my last blog I spoke about a list of things that had helped me get back to sanity (well, almost) I missed one thing, or rather a person who was a big help in my recovery because I wanted to give him the space he deserved, this man’s name is Jeremy Stockwell and he helped me by simply showing me how to understand myself better.
Let me tell you a bit about this wonderful man.
Jeremy is a performance expert, he wears many hats; actor, director, coach, speaker and writer. He works in the arts, business and education. To me his greatest gift is simply being able to see you. In this industry/life people are so busy trying to get their work done and seen and be be respected and while all of these are valid it can sometimes leave people slightly blind to the people they are working or surrounded with. Jeremy is present, he is completely in the moment he is in, he has mastered the art of listening and receiving, which really means you leave a session feeling like have been understood and heard which are basic human needs that many of us have unmet. It’s a rare thing these days to feel your voice is being understood and it is a joyous feeling. Best of all though he shows you how to be these things too.
I first met Jeremy through a three day workshop he was running, my agent had posted it on his time line and was urging people to go as Jeremy used to be one of his tutors and he knew the magic of the man. I have a lot of respect for his opinion and wasn’t working so I jumped at the chance to attend.
The workshop was called ‘Shoshin for Actors – The Beginner’s Mind’ the idea behind these set of workshops was to throw away preconceived notions and our ‘knowledge’ of how things should be done and instead turn our minds to what could be done if we let go. I remember very clearly walking into a very spacious room with a row of chairs against the back wall which me and my fellow actors sat on, in silence waiting. The tension and nerves were palpable and then in walks Jeremy. There is an aura about him that is difficult to describe, in fact I was talking to my sister earlier today about him, explaining my idea for this post and the best I could do was, imagine an east meets west philosophy inside Dumbledore, without the wand or long hair and beard. He has a calm confidence about him that seems to have its own gravitational pull but at the same time is unassuming, there is no arrogance to the man, he is fluid with a sparkle in his eyes, a warmth to his soul and scarf round his neck (in one workshop he gave his scarf to a student because she was cold then walked over to his satchel and produced another – just epic!)
When he spoke to us he said that just like us, he had no idea what would transpire over the next three evenings and that, in essence is what the course was about, letting go of preconceptions and by having no playbook to follow he could concentrate on the people that were there and deliver to them a tailored approach that they would truly benefit from.
I was lucky enough to have private sessions with him after the course had finished and this is really were I started to see the change in myself, if I’m honest I had a fear about working one to one with Jeremy because I knew there was nowhere to hide, he could see me and that scared me. I knew that I would face some blocks and it would be intense. I do have a philosophy though about doing what scares you as I believe those gaps between comfort and fear are where you expand and grow as a person (when I say do what scares you most I’m talking about life challenges not getting into a snake tank or standing in traffic!) I am so glad I said yes.
Every session starts the same way, an informal chat abut what we have done previously and what is going on in my life, by having this time to reflect it means every day’s focus changes and is specifically what you need in the moment. By working with someone who sees you, you start to truly see yourself too and power comes from that understanding. A few moments really stood out to me and I use them in my daily life. The biggest lesson I learnt though was Status.
Status is a tool in acting that helps you understand where your character is on the social pecking order which in turns effects how they relate to themselves and other people, of course any tool in acting is there to get us closer to ourselves and society so we can hold a truthful mirror up to our audiences. What stood out so much to me, when we spoke about status is that people have both an external and an internal status (you know that boss who is constantly angry and blames everybody else for their failings, walking around like a mini dictator? Yeah they are projecting high status but have a low internal status, which is why they are being a scrotum) I had heard of two statuses before but I hadn’t understood it on a physical level. During this conversation we spoke about my status in an audition setting and I confessed to feeling I portrayed a low status at times, Jeremy gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever had and it can apply to any situation or occupation -not just acting.
He asked me to close my eyes and breathe deeply letting go and simply being relaxed then he said to me, I want you think about how you want to feel coming out of the audition, picture it, everything had gone as well as it could, you were amazing, they were loving your work. Take a minute to really focus on that feeling (at this point a huge smile spread across my face and a weightlessness spread through my body, I felt confident, happy and strong thinking about this imaginary scenario. He then simply said that feeling you have, you go into the room with that, you enter feeling like that, open and present and a fellow human. Suddenly things snapped into place, it made sense and that’s how I go into an audition now or any life situation, I take a minute, visualise the feeling I want to leave with and enter with it.
He also showed me that when you walk with your full body in mind, you look and feel confident and open, so now I walk everywhere with my full 5’4” and again it makes me feel strong. I could go on and on about this incredible human and his unique brand of inter-personal teachings and philosophy but I would just be repeating myself, so I’m going to leave it there.
Remember, enter with the feeling you want to leave with and walk with your full height, also have a think about the status you are exuding and ask yourself if you are doing yourself justice with that number? If you want to know more about Jeremy and his work (let’s not mess about, of course you do!) I’ve popped some links at the bottom of the page of his website and and an incredible article he wrote for The Independent about why the world needs clowns (in the traditional sense – not the inflated ego, power drunk, spoilt child politician clown sense)
There are some people you meet in this life, if even for a short time that leave a lasting impression and a positive change on you, Jeremy is one of those people for me and so many others who have the joy of working with him. I’m going to be eternally grateful to my agent for posting on Facebook!
As Jeremy would say ‘Shine your Light’ and I’ll talk to you soon!
Be kind to each other. Be kind to yourself.
Jeremy’s website www.jeremystockwell.co.uk