The Role of the Mind in Performance

Context and Premise: Since early childhood, pressure is something we are all too familiar with. Pressure to achieve, succeed, win, control, restrain, behave, please, earn a living, attain status, look good, thrive, prove or feel that we are worthy one way or another, etc. Most people also experience various forms of pressure when being presented with an opportunity or assignment to speak. Pressure also affects performers within varied disciplines and art forms.

There are essentially two types of pressure that dominate the scene: mental and emotional. Mental or emotional pressure can be experienced as nervousness, anxiety, concern, worry, excessive thinking, irregular heart rate, dizziness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, choking sensations, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, chest pain, blurred vision, numbness, muscle pains or spasms, sadness, shaking, nausea, fatigue, weakness, confusion, inability to concentrate, etc.

Even in situations that appear relatively safe, if the mind interprets it as unsafe or having to prove something, the body will responds to that mind decision and create a split. If we become mentally involved with thoughts of a past event, the body may respond as though those events were taking place now and rob us of our ability to stay present. Analogously, when you watch a good movie in the dark you feel safe and comfortable; you are being willingly vulnerable mentally and emotionally. Consequently, you have access to the full range of your emotions and you will experience various degrees of pressure symptoms there too.

We underestimate the power of the mind to create pressure and disrupt the natural flow of our expression. Many people shy away from speaking in public or from leadership opportunities because they were never taught the proper strategies to build trust and confidence. As much as the body with all its organs and complexities knows how to function beautifully without the intervention of the mind, the same goes when we perform the act of speaking in public. Can you imagine if the mind had to remind the heart to beat? That’s all you would have time for. The mind is a watching mechanism when it comes to public and professional arenas. It is the most profound and yet completely overlooked principles.

We usually try to quiet the mind or shut it off completely instead of telling it the role that it must play. Let your body do the talking and let the mind watch. The mind will gladly feed you the presentation content so that it can continue to watch. As a decision maker, the mind will always ruin your genuine public speaking efforts. The strategy is to wait while anchored in the magical comfort of your body, its sensations and all physical elements present. Wait until the body feels anchored, safe and ready to respond. Athletes know that. If the mind were doing the running we would not need bodies. The art of relaxation is letting the body take over so the mind can become the watcher and, in turn, relax. It is the only way for the mind to relax.

Public speaking is infinitely closer to a sport than it is to intellectual gymnastics. Eight out of ten people struggle to trust their bodies, mostly in the form of an honest mistake for not knowing where to anchor and what to trust. To trust yourself is to trust your body. It is your only competitive advantage against mental and emotional pressure. Do you feel like taking your body for a test drive next time you speak?

If you need coaching or know someone who could benefit from honing these skills or you wish to comment, feel free to contact me directly at (310) 205-9219 or go to my contact page: click here!

About Eric and Amy Stone

Eric and Amy Stone, also known as Eric and Amy Benichou-Stone are the Co-Founders of Speakers & Artists International, Inc.; a California Corporation. We are a husband and wife team dedicated to delivering world-class coaching and training programs in the arenas of business communication, public speaking, media appearances, performance, and personal growth & development. See bios here Eric is also the Founder and Head Coach of Hollywood Actors Studio, in Beverly Hills, CA, where he has been developing talent, directing and training actors for the stage, film & television industries, and lecturing for more than 20 years. Amy is now the CEO of Speakers & Artists International, Inc. She's a multi-facetted and visionary guide and teacher. Her talent lies in her ability to focus on the individualĂ­s core identity and bring out truth and authenticity hidden behind the veil of ineffective habits and outdated conditioning. Eric Stone is also a Producer, a Creative Director, and a Professional Stage, Film, and Television Actor with major national and international credits to his name. Eric, also known as artist Philippe Benichou is a Published Author and an Internationally acclaimed award-winning visual Artist, represented in seven countries around the world.
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