The walk to the stage…
So you’ve worked really hard on your art whether that’s singing, dancing, acting or speaking.
You’ve spent years developing, practicing and honing your talent and you want to share it with your audience.
You’ve developed your voice and you feel confident in singing when you’re offstage.
You have a show, gig or speaking presentation and you can feel its presence looming as the date approaches.
You are both excited and nervous about it happening.
Sometimes you’re excited and then sometimes you’re scared and it seems you can’t control this flip flop of emotions.
You press on and the big day arrives and you wait backstage in anticipation of the moment you will step onto the stage and…here it comes…
You begin to feel fearful and anxious and feel like there’s nothing you can do about it.
When you reach the stage the grip in your stomach has increased, there’s a pressure in your head and you feel a tightness in your chest.
‘Just get through it,’ you tell yourself.
But you can’t wait for it to be over.
You enjoyed some of it?
You wonder is this all there is for me in my experience of performing?
Will I always feel anxious or fearful and never get to really feel comfortable on stage?
There is a way…
Out of this habitual cycle.
Experiences that are built from; confidence, relaxation, passion and joy.
All you need do is look back on a moment that you felt onstage or a time in your life where you froze, became paralyzed by this fear and anxiety and it either; stopped you from performing or highjacked your performance.
You’ve tried positive thinking and all the other stuff and they just haven’t worked.
This anxiety limits your enjoyment of your craft and interrupts the connection between you and your audience.
Maybe stops you from even continuing with your passions, your dreams and your career.
This soul crushing discomfort walks in-between you and your rightful place on the stage.
What happens inside of my body?
Your clever nervous system, particularly the sympathetic nervous system, is holding onto past experiences and has memorized them inside of the solar plexus and diaphragm.
This ‘memorization’ so to speak begins to limit the natural movements of the diaphragm therefore limiting your ability to breathe fully.
This visual and emotional sensory data that the nervous system is holding gets triggered by an impending performance and these memories are shown to you through muscle, nerve and brain pathways. This is a cycle that continues to repeat itself over and over again.
This triggers past memories of anxious performances or situations and tricks you into thinking that you are in that past situation again.
The solar plexus collapses, the all important power centre in the middle of the body and, along with it a whole host of other parts collapse in a domino affect that leaves the performer feeling powerless.
The solar plexus holds and steadies the diaphragm (the major muscle used in breathing) along with with the intercostal muscles of the ribs.
I liken it to a trampoline that is sturdy as well as flexible and is able to bounce and reflect your voice out of your body without any effort.
This stage fright collapse in your body also breaks the connection with the emotional centre in the belly as well as the grounding connection in the legs and feet.
You feel like a plug that has been unplugged from its power source. Sound familiar?
The voice needs the energy that is produced by the solar plexus and its team (ribs and diaphragm) to project the message of your voice outwards to your audience.
When the power centre collapses from the anxieties and fear the throat overworks to project your voice.
This overwork and pushing is the big trigger to the nervous system registering that something is wrong and proceeds to turns on too much sympathetic energy sending the artist head on into the fight or flight system!
Most of this is out of the awareness of the artist, however, once we can recognize this domino effect then we can step out of it and step back into our power.
For the frightened, anxious performer this is crippling and stops people from offering their art on the stage sometimes forever.
Whether dancing, singing, speaking or living this paralyzing fright is a killer of souls as well as art.
The process works and it requires you to repeat it until it is imprinted inside of you.
The old patterns of the collapse and fear are there in the neural pathways so it takes time it takes to build new pathways in the brain to the new ways of responding to the trigger – audience or person(s).