Last night, P and I watched Life of Pi, a film I had wanted to see since it came out because the book marked me in a beautiful, profound way. The film was gorgeous – Ang Lee is a master of directors – and the book’s ideas came through well, the value of stories, the reasons we tell them, the truth found even in the fiction. I loved it.
But it was in the special features that I found what I needed – Ang Lee said that they put Suraj Sharma (the actor who plays Pi) through a rigorous yoga regimen to open this first-time actor up. “Real acting comes from an fully open heart,” Lee said.
That’s true for all art. We can know the tricks of craft. We can study audience and practice after the greats. All of these things are valuable.
But it’s the heart work – the opening up of ourselves. The way we push aside our mental rules and our fears, the way we peel back all the lies we’ve heard and told about what people can tolerate, about what we can stand. It’s there that we find the deepest truth. The truth we need to lay out.
And for me, I remember again today, I can do that best when I work hard physically. Yoga is a perfect practice for me in this because it forces me to not think but feel where my body aches, where it won’t go and where, surprisingly, it will. Yoga takes me out of my mind and drops me down into the center of myself, just behind my diaphragm. My breath lives there. My life force. The very thing God breathes into us. The very thing we share with every other living thing on this planet. There, there’s the truth.
To dig into that heart space, that’s where the real writing lies, the real painting, the real sculpture, the real song. There, where we put aside concerns about how many people see our work, where we put aside the fear that we will offend or surprise, where we put aside our own need to be loved and approved. . . . it is when we work from there, when we create from the very space from which we were created, that we find all we need, buried under ourselves all along.
What about you? What role does physicality play in your work? Where does your true word lie?
A request – I need to get back into a regular yoga practice. I need to treat my body better. Will you all – with kindness – help me remember this with some gentle queries into how it’s going? I’d so appreciate it. Thanks.