In our training for the performing arts, holiday breaks present unique opportunities for both assimilation of earlier material and a fresh new start for the next chapter of work. Time off, when utilized well, is an integral part of training and study for a performing artist.
When we get time off, even if we are injured or sick and not just on a holiday break, we can be purposeful in our rest and assimilation. Really take the time to rest, relax, and shift your focus away from your training and onto something else you are passionate about. Discover your other passions and work on those as you will be a more well-rounded person. Also there are times that careers end, because of many reasons such as an injury, a lack of success, a change of mind, etc, and when you already have developed other passions you will be much more prepared to move on. Remember how important resting is for the body to rejuvenate and restore itself – so don’t push yourself during time off.
The body & mind stores all the memories and information you have learned in your training and during time off, when no other new information needs processing, it is a great time to spend a few minutes reflecting, writing, and just daydreaming about your earlier work. Often these thoughts will just appear and that is a great time to spend time with them. It is a very subtle experience but it will bring great rewards to your future work. Just like athletes, when we have time off, sometimes we come back and enter a whole new level.
Upon coming back to class certain aspects are important. Stay away from the natural anxiety that starts to bubble up when we are about to return to the work – just like going back to school after a weekend can bring up anxiousness, so can the holiday break. We can stay away from this nervous energy by reminding ourselves that we are not there yet and to stay in the present. Once we get back to class, or school, we will be fine as we will automatically shift into the mindset we need. But on vacation our mindset is not in working mode, nor should it be. Learning to shift your mindset at will is a great advantage to success in all fields.
When we come back to classes, remember to approach your work with a Zen Beginners mind – which means to approach the work as if you have never done it and don’t know what it is. This means instead of going in like you know what you are doing, to keep an attitude of “what is this”? The open mind will allow you to see things new and discover new aspects you hadn’t seen or experienced before. If you think you already know, little room is there to discover anything new.
Remind yourself that your instrument has been on a break and allow yourself some slack and a bit of time to get back to speed. As a dancer your body may be a bit stiff, as a singer your vocal folds may not feel so strong, as an actor your emotional readiness may feel slow. All of these things are natural and to worry about them does not serve us. As you keep the Beginners Mind open and you explore anew, your instrument will tune itself and gain resilience and strength.
Coming back to class after a break is an exciting time! Be purposeful in directing yourself and intending what you want and watch the good things come your way. When we are purposeful we bring our energy in a self-directed way that attracts that energy back – the face you bring to your work is the face you get back. In other words if you bring anxiety to class you will get anxiety back. If you bring an open mind and an intention to see new aspects you will have that experience. Remember that confidence is an inner quality; it is not outside of you. Self esteem is gained when you accomplish your goals; it is not outside of you. These are good reasons to always take time to reflect, meditate and daydream about your awesome work in the performing arts.