The Energetic System: A New Acting Tool
"Those indescribable, unspeakable things that the actor has accumulated in his soul while working creatively on his part will be conveyed only though Radiation. So an intangible means of expression may become the most tangible part of the performance, revealing the play, the part, and the actor’s individual face behind them." —Michael Chekhov
|Frost © Jean-Pierre Rousset|
"Actors spend considerable amounts of time training their bodies, voices, and emotional responses. Ignoring the energetic system is like ignoring the part of the iceberg lying below the water line. By working only with the visible, actors are denying themselves an extraordinary potential and a useful set of tools for their craft, leaving to instinct and luck what should be trained the same way they train their speech, movement and emotional response. Furthermore, they need to balance their energetic system and recognize the impact that intense emotions have on their bodies and well-being. My mission was now to develop a technique for actors, exploring how to use this extraordinary new tool.
What did I discover, and why does energy awareness matter for an actor?
I first discovered that the energetic system is another sense to be added to the five senses that I had worked on so much at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute. It is another part of the actor’s toolbox.
The energetic system — or energy system — is composed of energy centers and of many other elements we will develop further. Sensing with your energy system can be as powerful, if not more, as sensing with your sight, touch, smell, etc. We intuitively use the energy system when we casually talk about sensing the good or bad “vibe” in a room, or emanating from a person. We already somehow know that we possess extrasensory perception about the space around us or other individuals. This perception tells us information beyond the visible, information connected to the world of energy.
I learned that everything has a vibrational rate; objects, people, animals and thought patterns. We are all vibrating at different frequencies. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines vibration as “a rapid to-and-fro motion of the particles of an elastic body or medium that produces sound,” and also as “emotional emanation or atmosphere that can be instinctively sensed.” Deepak Chopra defines vibration as “the frequency of brain activity in the cerebral cortex.”
I also found out that the creative state is completely linked to the state of the energy system. With a clear energetic system, the person reaches a higher state of vibration and therefore greater creative potential. Michael Chekhov had already talked about the higher self and the state of creativity. I understood the explanation behind this mysterious creative state: it is simply a level of vibration of the energy system that can be worked on as easily as one works on a muscle. By simple exercises, “energy workouts,” one can raise one’s vibrational level and clear the energetic system to a state where imagination, intuition and creativity flow freely.
The real breakthrough for me was to realize that emotions are so clearly linked to the energetic system. In the first book I read about chakras by Caroline Myss, I discovered how each chakra (or energy center in the human body) is linked to sets of emotions and issues, and how working on and affecting each energy center will have an effect on the related emotion and issues. Reciprocally, Deepak Chopra demonstrates in his book, Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, that emotions felt and expressed in real life (or for that matter on the stage) induce chemical reactions in the brain of the subject, and have an effect on the energy system, which in turn activates the glandular system. Sometimes it can even create an imbalance in the body such as thyroid disorder or other conditions. Research has shown that emotional outbursts can affect the immune system. An outburst of anger creates a depletion of the immune system for over six hours. Conversely, a feeling of joy and love will boost the immune system for six hours and increase the IgA levels, the body’s first line of defense against viruses and bacteria. More research by the Institute of HeartMath has even demonstrated that aspects of the DNA molecule can be altered through intentionality. These studies demonstrate that emotions and focused intention impact the physical and chemical structure of one or more of the bases in the DNA molecules. Scientists of the Institute of HeartMath define emotion as “energy in motion.” Furthermore, and as Gary Zukav states in his latest book on emotional awareness, The Heart of the Soul,
“Your emotions, whether anger or happiness or any other, do not depend upon what is happening outside of you, but upon how your energy system is processing energy.”
“As energy is processed at different locations and in different ways, different emotions result.”
Emotions affect the energy system in an incredible way, and conversely, the energy system has an impact on emotions and feelings.
Finally, I also discovered through my studies of RYSE® with Nancy Risley that one has conscious control of the energetic system, and that one can intentionally change its state — or map — by doing different mental exercises.
The mind, spirit and body are intimately connected and related. Working on one will affect the other. By using mental exercises, one is able to impact the energy system, affecting one’s emotional state, and the body will react accordingly. For an actor these discoveries are of utmost importance. Getting angry, fearful, sad, or happy is part of the daily task an actor must accomplish in his job. We understand then, especially nowadays when Hollywood and television create more new monsters, serial killers, and catastrophic movies than ever before, that acting has become a very risky job and can take its toll on the performers’ health. We also understand that energy is an essential part of the actor’s toolbox."
This was an excerpt from the book A BALANCING ACT, by F. E. Chaulet
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