We talk a lot about being in the right frame of mind in my classes. We explore what that means and how it changes and affects our work. We investigate the different frames of mind we use regularly: student, child, parent, friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, worker, etc. We see that we play these roles and act them, whether aware of them or not, and that they are different parts of ourselves. If a person brings girlfriend frame of mind to class or home that can often be a distraction. Just as being in work mode at home can be too. At home we need to be in family frame of mind to keep harmony. With our boyfriend/girlfriend, if we bring frame of mind of math student that can be a distraction away from our partner. In math class we need our math head on, thinking about our boyfriend or girlfriend will not be useful to doing better math.
We explore the attitude you bring is what you get back. Or as my teacher used to say, the face you bring is the face you get back. As one student said the other day, “if you bring happy energy you will get it back from other people but if you bring negativity you will get that back too.” The vibe you send out attracts the vibe – a smile to others will almost always bring a smile back. Try it, smile to strangers while walking past them and see the response. A negative person brings out negativity from others – and that negativity can snowball into a series of complaining, judging and gossiping.
So when we come to dance class we want to have dance readiness and our dance frame of mind with us. Same for acting class, same for singing or Improv or Reiki. When we learn to use free will to direct our minds toward the life we want each day, we succeed more at what we do. We become co-creators of our daily experiences.
Recently in acting class (Teen/Adults) I had a lesson as a teacher who brought the wrong frame of mind to the students to do “the work”. I wanted to get some feedback and a reflexive sense of where my actors were in their process of class work. We had a very fruitful discussion of thoughtful exchanges and honest sharing. We all got some good stimulation and ideas from the conversation. It was a time of community and trusting, of opening to each other and listening to stories about how our personalities help and hinder each of us in the work. It was a useful exercise that went longer than I thought. So when it felt complete and I realized we had only a short time left for class I threw the actors into the work. I felt my own inner pressure to have them do the work and didn’t trust to just leave it where we were with the good discussion.
As we got into the work which requires spontaneity and impulsiveness without thinking, struggle ensued rather than the actor’s usual freedom. We worked through it yet it wasn’t optimal work, it was work in the struggle. And no wonder! I realized I had been talking with them and asking about their own struggles with the acting work. So they were in struggle frame of mind, it was right in the front of their brains! I also was having them do heady, thinking work – no wonder it was hard for them to now jump right into non-thinking impulsive work! I didn’t do any of the warm-up exercises I usually do to facilitate their spontaneous, creative, imaginary frame of minds and it made such a difference, for the worst. What a fool I felt afterwards. Another lesson learned though, and an important one. We, as teachers, must remember to be aware of how we bring ourselves and our students into the work, whether it is math, music, French, or acting. After thirty years of teaching I am still learning tough and simple lessons.