Letting Yourself Alone

Some thoughts about “letting yourself alone.”

When I first heard the expression, I couldn’t imagine what it meant or why such a concept would be useful… I was 19, apprenticed at a theatre in New York from a midwestern college.  Letting yourself alone? Why? Weren’t we here to train ourselves, become ourselves, perfect our skills, prepare to enter the profession?  Hadn’t we gotten here by striving and hard work? Yes! Those things seemed completely contrary to “letting yourself alone.”

This is before I understood what it is to trust yourself.

When I talk to my students about it, I say it’s a kind of relaxation and is easier said than done. It means not commenting to yourself about your work or your partner’s work in your head.  It means not editing, going for results or directing as you go along.  It means taking a breath and reconnecting with the circuit of yourself, your partner, the text and the moment. It means that if you have these editorial comments running through your mind, just let them run.  You don’t need to respond to them, try to make corrections or give them too much importance.  You’re practicing a new value and skill: being engaged in this moment.

“Letting yourself alone” means staying out of your head.

If it is your habit to fuss with yourself, you’re going to have to learn to inhibit that impulse without inhibiting others.  That’s the hard part, to leave aside your habitual reaction without thinking that you’ve made a mistake.