This month I celebrated the 3-year anniversary of my Hannah Sanford Studios launch (woohoo!) by participating in Committed Impulse, an intensive weekend workshop originally designed by Josh Pais as […]
This month I celebrated the 3-year anniversary of my Hannah Sanford Studios launch (woohoo!) by participating in Committed Impulse, an intensive weekend workshop originally designed by Josh Pais as a cutting edge approach for actors committed to accessing their excellence.
But it’s also perfect for non-actors too! Nearly half our class was composed of artists and entrepreneurs in other fields (painters, opera singers, biotech founders, facilitators, healers) who were seeking to elevate our performance in each of our respective professions.
For some this meant getting back in touch with our free-flowing spontaneity, for others this meant adding some structure. For all of us, it meant getting out – WAY OUT – of our comfort zone.
Why did I participate in Committed Impulse? Because I’m expanding myself, my business and my art to a bigger stage. And I need to get more comfortable there in order to best create and deliver it.
What did I get out of it? I learned to silence my sometimes self-doubting mind, stay present in my body by re-framing the fear and anxiety coursing through me when I’m about to speak in public to be a source of energy that I can use do deliver my performance, and accessed a depth and breadth of self-expression I’ve never demonstrated in public before.
Or probably ever. Even in private.
What can you expect? Every class is unique and different, so expect the unexpected. But in general, you can expect a series of physical warm-up exercises to get you out of your head and grounded here and now in your body.
Then there is monologue and scene work, so even us non-actors have to prepare for the course like an actor. But this is no different than an entrepreneur preparing to giving a VC pitch or a visual artist preparing for a pubic art exhibition. In this way the work is a flexible method that can be applied to any event or gig, not just acting.
During our monologues, Josh found ways to stretch us all beyond what we’d thought possible in our performance. In order to get me to be BIG, he had me shouting my lines out the window of our 2nd story Soho studio loud enough to make the people on the sidewalk look up and notice me. They did! It was a total breakthrough for me: to stay completely present in my body and deliver my lines while totally messing them up but still keeping so fully IN the energy of the scene that I delivered an emotional depth of expression my classmates were moved (some to tears!) and cheering that “something has been unleashed in you Hannah!”
There’s homework too, so don’t plan on doing anything other than this workshop that weekend. Plus your molecules will be rearranging themselves, so get plenty of rest, drink lots of water and get some fresh air to let them assimilate well.
I’ve already seen both personal and professional results from this one weekend. I can play with a much greater range of energy now, with the full spectrum of me. And I’m developing the capacity to actualize any pre-event anxiety into the actual performance itself.
We don’t really know how we’re going to feel at any particular moment, but when performance time comes we anticipate fear, nerves and anxiety. Usually we freak out and try to stuff it down so we don’t feel it, or if we’re practicing mindfulness we’re taught to breathe deep to get rid of it. Either way we feel WORSE, because whatever fear, anxiety or butterflies there existed to begin with now feel like a caged animal. Caged animals just get MORE agitated and eventually lash out fiercely. This is our survival-based self-sabotage mechanism at play, it’s just an automatic response. It’s challenging to really take a look at this stuff for ourselves, but the benefits are enormous.
By learning to acknowledge whatever bodily feelings arise in the moment and channel them into the performance itself we have access to a life of living from our truth, expressing what’s really there authentically and responsibly, and creating our finest work every time regardless of what we’re feeling or what’s going on around us. That’s high performance stuff, people!
In the weeks following this workshop, I’ve successfully stepped into larger facilitation roles in the front of the room, been painting more impactful and authentic pieces, and lots of other little stuff (big for me!) like for the first time I sang in public all by myself.
Sang? Yup! In one offsite training event that I facilitate, our group ground rules agreed that anyone who came back from lunch or a break late clearly wanted attention, to be a star, so they could: by singing, dancing or telling a joke for the rest of us. Eek! I’ve never been late in over 6 years of delivering this leadership training workshop. Being late totally freaks me out, it’s so disrespectful. So just the being late had me feeling super stressed (bolts of hot energy shooting up and down my body, sweating palms, queasy tightness in my belly). And now I had to sing, dance or tell a joke?!
I don’t know how to dance, don’t have any jokes memorized, and can’t really carry a tune. But I realized this was a perfect moment to practice using my fears as a source of energy, so I amped it up!
How? Fully feeing those bolt of hot energy shooting up and down my body, sweaty palms, and queasy tightness in my belly, I stepped boldly to the center of the room and acapella, by myself (we could have used accompanying music or enrolled other participants if we chose, but I went with my own extreme experience of I’m the only one on stage here) and sang a sweet little tune that my Mama used to sing for us when I was a little girl.
When I began, I couldn’t even remember all the words, but they somehow came to me just when I needed them. The tune was off, and I’m sure I looked super nervous, but this little “performance” elicited applause and more importantly the trust of my people that I had demonstrated the vulnerability and courage to do something so clearly outside my comfort zone.
So while I may never step on stage as an actor, there are many opportunities in our work and our lives to take center stage so to speak. Having access to revealing my truth in the moment while also staying fully present in my performance is a whole new world. I highly recommend Committed Impulse to anyone wanting to be BIGGER in the world and their work while also being more comfortable in their own skin.
Whatever your profession and whatever your specific goals for participation, I can guarantee that you’ll leave with a greatly expanded way of being and walking in the world. You’ll experience a sense of alert aliveness, focused flexibility and an immensely powerful presence.
I’ll definitely be going back for more… Hope to see you at one of Josh’s weekend workshops in NYC or LA!
P.S. As you know by now I love to share with you the stuff I’m up to, in case you might also benefit from it; I’m not getting anything for this “recommendation” – except of course reliving and reinforcing the experience by writing about it!
P.P.S. If you made it all the way thru this rather lengthy post, Bravo! You deserve a gold star: