I once attended a master-class taught by a very renowned opera singer. When he began taking questions from the audience, someone asked him, “What is it about performing that you love?” He thought for a long moment. Finally, he explained that it was very hard to articulate because he didn’t believe words did the feeling justice. Nevertheless he went on to say something like this, “It’s that one moment. You know as a professional stage performer you have good and bad days. Mostly good once you find your niche and establish your method of work. But the good days pine in comparison to ‘that moment.’ It’s that one second, that one note when everything comes together. Everything falls into place and the heavens open up. You feel immortal, timeless, indescribably beautiful.” He also said that those moments are rare, but the possibility of it is why he gets up in the morning and does what he does.
As a performer and writer, I immediately connected with this notion. Any artist who is serious about his or her craft has experienced at least a sliver of this feeling. If you’re an actor, you may have attended classes wherein your teacher has spoken about “the moment.” I cannot remember how many times I heard the phrase “be true to the moment” or “stay in the moment” during my training. Well here’s a secret. The eternal present that I’m always talking about IS ‘the moment.’ It’s no wonder artists do what they do. Honest creation is the purest expression of the spirit, which not surprisingly always resides in the eternal present. Art is simply another method of bringing oneself into alignment with the now. Yet, creating a work of art or a performance can be very frustrating in the early stages when the artist is struggling to find that moment. Now, imagine if one could approach his/her art already in a state of complete being.
I submit that instead of artists using their art to find the moment, we should first practice being present in our ‘mundane’ life. As a result, when we go to perform our craft we are so much closer to, if not already in alignment with the eternal present. As such, I’m a huge advocate of artists, in particular, engaging in some sort of daily mindfulness practice. This doesn’t necessarily have to be meditation though the benefits to an artist can be astounding. It can be as easy as noticing one’s breath before an audition or performance or while drawing or painting. Alternatively in one’s daily artistic practice, making the decision to be super conscious in whatever you’re doing yields similar results. This doesn’t mean manic or overly excited production of thought and energy. It means feel that still lake that is your truest state of being underneath it all. Keep a consistent sense of this still, centered place and from there, artistic action will be organic, flowing like Tao.
So, artist or not, go forth. Be still. Be present. Find your truest moment.
By Terence Stone
Chief Editor and Founder of Urban Spiritual, I’m a classically trained singer and actor living in New York City, who has performed in the U.S. and Europe. I’m also a writer, traveller, meditator, arts-lover, and well-being enthusiast.