The New Sun

Living in the Sweet Spot
Principles of Relaxation for All

November 17 is acting teacher Lee Strasberg's birthday and each year on this day I reflect on the period of time when I taught at his school. I remember being quite the anarchist, suggesting to my students that it really didn't matter whether they used the "Strasberg" technique or a "rival" approach, for the most valuable lesson to be gained from Lee's body of work would be The Relaxation Procedure, and the Principle that it always be partnered with whatever technique they ultimately chose.

My students were always taught that Relaxation is essential for the performer. It is the water that keeps their instrument, their "clay," malleable. Here are Three Principles:

  • Relaxation is NOT changing one's intentions when being watched;

  • Relaxation is being comfortable with the dis-ease one feels when stimulated;

  • Ultimately, Relaxation is Self-Permission.

I have come to feel that these Principles of Relaxation have value for us all. They guide us toward what I call Living in the Sweet Spot -- that mental state when we feel most successfully ourselves. Let me explain.

Take a moment and recall the occasions, even the "insignificant" ones, when you feel most content and happy:

It may be during that first cup of coffee -- particularly that first sip;

It may be when you hear certain passages of music;

It may be while in the presence of a special individual, or in a particular environment, such as a place of worship or scenic beauty;

It may be when being helpful;

Or it may be when you hit that tennis ball in just the right place -- on the Sweet Spot!

These moments needn't be singular experiences that disintegrate once their allotted and "logical" time-span expires. Rather, they can serve as microcosmic examples of a Personal State of Happiness we can strive to live from -- our Individual Sweet Spot. The aforementioned Principles of Relaxation can help us achieve this goal.

Just as the performer must be aware, we too can ask ourselves -- are we compromising our intentions because of outside pressures? Are we uncomfortable or feeling awkward because of circumstances created by others? Are we living in a state of self-permission, that is, without the compromise of our personal will? With honest answers, interfering Tensions can be acknowledged, managed, and released.

Mythologist Joseph Campbell encouraged us to "follow our bliss." I call this Living in the Sweet Spot where, with the use of one's Awareness in partnership with Relaxation, a state of well-being can be created and sustained.

May we, with the encouragement and guidance from great teachers who have followed their own paths, find that Sweet Spot for ourselves and, in the language of the actor, live in it Moment to Moment.

P.S.: The Magician Within Grants Our Wishes,

All We Need Is The Courage To Ask.

(And He/She Resides In The Sweet Spot.)

by Mimi Gina

See previous columns by Mimi:
Neck Tension Reduction
Maintaining Relaxation Results