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Calm Your Mind & Conquer Your Audition

By Donna Simon Dunn

Imagine your mind is a garden.

You get to choose which seeds to plant. So why not plant seeds of positivity, joy, opportunity and success? Why not have a giant patch of dirt, void of nutrients, where your bad seeds: rejection, self-doubt, worry, go to die?  What’s stopping you from waking up every day and stepping into your purpose? Your initial response to this might be, Ugh, SO many things are stopping me, or, I don’t have time to pretend my mind is a garden.

Because you are human and sometimes just dealing with the necessities of day to day life is overwhelming. Add the fact that you are an artist and built into your journey of being a working professional is the caveat that you will be judged, you will be rejected, you will be told no, probably more times than you will ever be told yes. It’s a wonder anyone ever has the guts to pursue their dreams. Yet, you do. Despite the possibility of rejection, you get up every day and put yourself out there. You willingly walk into spaces and expose your most vulnerable parts to strangers. Then you’re expected to wait for someone to tell you if you were good enough for what they are creating. Over time, if you’re not careful, this negative energy can build up and pretty soon you’re carrying it around with you and it’s blocking all of the amazing new energy that’s trying to get out. So, what can you do to shake off the residue of negativity so you can show up every day and feel and be your best? How do you calm your mind?

Take charge of your audition process.

We know rejection can crop up at any point in the audition process. Here are some practical things you can do to lessen the blow and calm your mind.

  • Try controlling the few things you can actually control. It’s easier to relieve the feeling of rejection if you know at the end of the process, you did absolutely everything in your power to book the job and all that is left are things you can’t control, like, people’s opinions, the director’s vision, creators’ vision, you’re too tall, too short, the list goes on.
  • Show up as your best self from the beginning of the process. Be on time, be prepared, remember to be a human in the room. Arm yourself with knowledge about the project: you have the breakdown, start googling. Demystifying is empowering.
  • Remember that you have been invited into that audition room because it is believed you are a contender for the role.
  • Remember that everyone in that room wants you to be the person if you are the person; everyone did their job and you solved the problem of the day.
  • Remember that this is a business of opinions and every role is not going to be your role.
  • Celebrate each tiny victory. The audition, the callback, the check avail. Focus on the process not the outcome. 
  • And here is the big one, the thing that is easier said than done. Let it GO. Go into the room, do the best that you can do on that day, in that moment and let it go. It’s easier to hang on to the energy of rejection if you are bogged down by all of the things that could have been.

Cultivate a positive mindset.

You are going to be less likely to carry around the energy of rejection if you calm your mind and nourish your brain with positive thoughts before you even know about whatever it is that’s about to say no to you. Many of you already have a mindful audition practice in place but if you don’t have a way to mindfully manage your audition process it’s never too late to start. If you are game to step into the “woo woo” with me, here are a few ideas, take them, make them your own, play with them, only you can discover what works for you.

Identify the thoughts that are getting in your way. Are there thoughts about a specific project you need to move on from. Take any lingering negatively and rejection and picture yourself throwing it into a hole so deep they will never be heard from again. This sets you up to go into your day with a clean slate. Remember that your energy speaks for you when you walk into a room.

The garden I mentioned earlier is a great place to start. Find a few minutes in the morning or night to sit quietly. Literally, take two minutes, take thirty, whatever works for you. Picture the layout of the garden in your mind. How big is it? Is it a small patch of grass behind a building? Is it a huge expanse of land? Imagine yourself sitting in your favorite place in the garden. What colors do you see? Are they bright? Do they inspire you? Take stock of how you are feeling today, are your thoughts serving your higher purpose? Plant the seeds of thoughts that line up with you being your most successful most powerful most happy self.

Create an inspiration buddy system.

For over a year now I have benefited from the daily support and inspiration of two childhood friends. We text every morning. Sometimes it’s a quote, a funny meme, an inspirational thought, an interesting article. Imagine if every day you could count on at least one interaction of support and inspiration. Something that reminds you to laugh, reminds you that you are in charge of your life, you can do anything, and you are not out here alone. You are surrounded by like-minded creative people. Reach out, have fun, start your day in a great headspace by being an inspiration and support someone else.

This next thing is going to sound cliché but the old hippie in me wants to remind you to breathe. We spent all that time in theatre school rolling around on the ground and dropping into our breath and here we are everyday forgetting that a little bit of breathing goes a long way. Connecting to our breath is a calming and grounding tool that is available to us anytime, anywhere. Take a moment and breathe. Feel the breath fill up your body, expanding your stomach and your ribcage, imagine that breath is filling you with powerful positive energy. On the exhale imagine yourself being grounded and connected to the present moment. Do this as many times as it serves you.

Keep working on finding the practice that helps you continue to be the amazing artist that you are. Remember you are not alone and everyone is excited to see you show up as your best self in all of your magnificent power.

Donna Simon Dunn hails from Cleveland, Ohio.  She made her journey to Chicago after receiving her BFA in Acting from Ohio University.  Donna enjoyed doing stand up comedy and performing with Chicago theatres like Chicago Dramatists and The Annoyance before joining Aria Talent in 2007 as a tv/film, commercial and theatrical agent. In 2013 Aria talent joined forces with Grossman & Jack. Donna is thrilled to call G&J her home.  She considers herself lucky to be a part of this amazing Chicago community of talented and creative people.