By Stephanie Nash, MFA – Acting Teacher, Body Language Expert & Mindfulness Meditation Coach
I’ve always been interested in body language – especially when I first encountered other cultures in my teens. I was interacting with people who moved and related to each other physically in ways that were quite foreign to my WASP upbringing.
When I got to Duke, I wanted to study body language, but this school with a top psychology department had no classes that delved into such material – so I took acting classes where I not only studied body language, I experienced it.
I had to move my body in ways I’d never done. After 35 years as an actress, I believe the work on my physical “instrument” has been an integral part of my development as an actress – and my maturing as a human being.
I had to let go of old tensions and restrictions, and embrace new ways of moving as different characters – which created a much greater sense of compassion and connectedness to the characters I played – as well as to anyone who had ever been in such a situation.
When I became an acting teacher, I discovered that most acting teachers were not emphasizing body language as much as my training had, and I found that when I could align the actor’s body with their intention and emotional/psychological state, the result was a truthful, grounded performance.
When I became a mindfulness meditation teacher, I discovered that I could help people’s “inner” life, but then their habit of holding the body in restricted ways tended to create the feelings that were part of developing that habit. I’d hear people complain of unpleasant emotions returning, and I would notice that they were holding their bodies in ways to create those emotions. I then began my programs to help them “unlock” these habit patterns physically, creating a body that was free and a grounded environment that supported all the inner growth and shifts that were happening.
Now my interest is to help anyone (not just actors & meditators) to understand how the body can be an easy tool for self-transformation and discovery.