This is a guest post by my sister, the novelist and singer-songwriter Celeste Lovick.
The source of stage fright
The most important thing as a performer is not what the audience thinks of you. It is what you feel about your audience.
It used to matter a lot to me what audiences thought about me. In fact, I used to think it was the most important thing, because I believed that if they liked me they would buy CDs or possibly give me another gig. It was about what I wanted to get out of it, what I thought I needed to be fulfilled in some way. Therefore, I was in a state of fear that the need would not be met. Thus, I was afraid of my audience, of the power they could hold over my future.
This made for some uncomfortable gigs – for both myself, and my audience too. And of course I hid this from myself and put on a brave face, but the truth of what was inside me always resonated out into the world around me.
It took quite a few years of this experience before I discovered a truth for me that changed everything.
When you love someone, you cannot be afraid of them.
Connecting with your audience
When you give love to your audience, it is an experience of expansiveness and joy, because love connects you. Love is an experience of remembering we are part of one family. If I can love my audience, then I know I am not separate from them, and ultimately if I am loving them, I am loving myself. And as I experience love within myself, so the audience receives that resonance and may begin to feel love within themselves too.
Love is so much more powerful than fear. One loving performer onstage can shift the energy of a whole roomful of frightened people. And how powerful this can be when a performer takes the mainstage at a festival and plays for tens of thousands of people, bringing so many into a resonance of lovingness at the same time. Our thoughts are extremely powerful. They affect energy. As performers we have the power to directly affect the energy of every person in close proximity to us. And beyond. In this way, performers and artists have a potent role to play in our evolving world.
So how does one get into this state of ‘being in love’ on stage? Easier said than done you may say. And yes, it does take practice. Like anything. For we can get into habitual patterns of thought and behaviour. Like a tightrope walker learning to walk the tightrope, you fall off many times at first, but if you keep getting back on, eventually you fall less and less. And one day, you may even walk the tightrope from one side to the other and not fall at all.
As I’ve grown more self-aware as a performer, I can now recognise the feeling that occurs in my body as a result of a fearful mindset. It often begins as an uncomfortable contraction in my solar plexus. As I’ve learned to notice this feeling, when it comes I say to myself, ‘Ah, you are in fear’. Then I can consciously run through the techniques I’ve found most effective for changing my mental state and entering a new resonance. These are ones I’ve developed and evolved in the last few years which have worked well for me. They involve grounding, visualisation, conscious breathing and intention.
These same things may work for you, or you may develop your own practices. Whatever it is, there is something that will work for you, that can bring you into a state of lovingness onstage.
I still fall sometimes. But each time I do, I remind myself to return to my centre and my heart, because it feels so much better. This is not just for performers, it is for anyone performing any action in life. Any action which is infused with love feels good, and makes the world just a little more loving. We find that rather than searching for the answer outside of ourselves to try and fill the emptiness with someone else’s love, we find that love is an infinite spring that resides within us, and when we tap into that, it never runs out, it flows on to those around us and fills us up at the same time.
To read more about creating a resonance of love onstage and in life, download the first chapter of Medicine Song, Celeste Lovick’s new novel.
Featured image: “People enjoying rock concert with heartshape hand gesture.” Photo via VisualHunt.com; public domain dedication, photographer not listed.
PS: If you’d also like a sneak peek at Creative Unblocking: How to Bypass Self-Doubt and Complete Your Best Work, subscribe for free to my “no spam” email list. You’ll get fresh inspiration and creative insights delivered monthly(ish) to your inbox, and I’ll remind you when the full book is released on August 1st, 2017.