Coming Close to Your Audience

Are you frustrated by your audience?

Do you wish you could just shake them and say,
HEY! I’m amazing!  Don’t you see me?

I mean, you are doing SO much work and putting out your
music
words
art

Aren’t they supposed to love and cherish you?

Do you wish they would just do what you WANT?

Wouldn’t it be amazing to just have a magic wand and they would come eagerly running and buy all your work?

You may be scratching your head and asking,
How do the most successful Artists do it?
How do they have raving fans?

Because I imagine, you would love the answer. You could stop exhausting yourself and actually build an audience you love as well that nurtures and promotes your work.

So, how do we go from wanting to control our audience, and feeling frustrated and overwhelmed to actually having them come running to US?

I have to admit something to you.

I have really struggled with wanting things to be different than they are.

For most of my 20 year career as a performer, I felt like I was waving my hand in the air and saying,
PICK ME, PICK ME!

Can you relate?

It felt like I was reaching out with my arms, seeking attention, my arms outstretched, all my energy going OUT.

And then when I would experience rejection, it felt so personal. 
Didn’t they see how badly I wanted this? 
Didn’t they know how much this meant to me?

I was so confused, and in this confusion my answer was just to try harder.  To want it even more…to SHOW them how hard I was working.

I thought if I just tried hard enough, I could control them.  I could WILL them to pick me. I would just place all my energy on being perfect and amazing, so I would stand out.

And I hit a ceiling.  This trying so hard only got me so far.  I thought the rejection would go away.  I thought I would finally book my first Broadway show.  And I didn’t.

I was devastated…..

Do you feel like you are doing this with your audience?
Do you feel like no matter how good you are, it doesn’t matter?

And this whole energy going out went on for years, and affected many other areas of my life where I struggled.

I would want people to be quiet on the train who were speaking loudly into their phones.
When I was dating, I would want the guy to specifically say what I wanted to hear.

And it even seeped into my meditation practice. In a quiet room, I would sit with my sangha in silence and meditate together.  Except sometimes people would fall asleep, or their legs hurt. It would drive me crazy to be sitting still and feeling my mind calm, to be completely distracted by the person in front of me fidgeting.

Oh man….even here I’m struggling.  I can’t seem to get away from this!

Until two weeks ago.

I did a weekend meditation retreat and it was the longest and most intensive retreat I’ve done.  My teachers had given a very specific instruction, which was when I felt myself wander, or difficult emotions arose to simply,
Move closer.

So, I settled in, and sure enough I had someone in front of me who was moving around.  I could feel that voice coming in, judging and saying,
Why are they doing that?
Don’t they know I need stillness?

And then I came close.  Literally….I shifted my energy on them and their actions, and came back to myself, sitting on the cushion.

And I felt something very different in my body, in fact I then had an awareness of how OUT of my body I had been in that moment and how QUICKLY I had gone there. My eyes had actually shifted up towards the person in front of me.

So, I came back to where I was, my actual experience, and lowered my eyes again.  Immediately the judging voice went away, and I felt a relaxation.

This happened again and again, and each time, I just brought myself back to me. 

Each time I would start to obsess on someone’s practice or actions, I would just come back to my breath, to my body in space sitting on the cushion.

And I began to remember and process all those moments as an Artist when I had NO awareness I was doing this,
When I would stay fixated on the choreographer who didn’t pick me
When I would stay fixated on the casting director who was looking at his phone instead of listening
When I would stare at the director during an audition, willing him to pick my headshot
When I would want the audience to cheer and they would barely clap

This was all actually OUT of my control.

And energetically, I was wasting my energy because what really ended up making the difference and caused me to have a total resurgence in my career was when I stayed IN my body and placed my attention more on my experience.

I had always heard my acting teachers say,
You can’t care about what they think…

And this always confused the HECK out of me!  But I DO care!  How am I supposed to audition or perform without my passion?

But, what I realize is they were actually pointing towards,
I can’t control my audience.

In fact, the largest lesson I learned in my divorce is, I can’t control another person.

That energy is wasted, which is why it exhausted me.

When we put all our energy on our audience, we are seeking validation, and validation is a one way trip to disappointment.  No everyone is going to like you or your work, and that’s OK.  This isn’t about pleasing everyone.

But most of all, when all of our energy is placed outside ourselves, we are lopsided.  We’ve all been in the presence of someone who is trying too hard, who just wants attention, and I imagine your reaction in that moment was to turn away.  It probably felt uncomfortable.

As Artists, we really need to learn how to receive, but in order to do that, we need to know how to BE in our bodies.  When you come closer, and stop obsessing about your audience, it means you are coming back home.

You are coming back to who you are as an Artist.  And you need to know who you are.  It may be the most important work you do.

Because when you can sit with who you are, with acceptance, then you will be relaxed.  When you are relaxed, then you feel safe to others.  And when you feel safe to others, they will come TO you.

Look at your marketing.
Look at how you are speaking and showing up to your audience.

Really assess where your energy is, and learn how to build lasting relationships that are healthy, not one-sided.
It begins with you.

Come close.

Photography by: Caitlin Cannon Photography

Your Creative Team

Do you have a part of you that you wish you could get rid of?
Do you have a part of you that it would feel SO amazing to just put them on a permanent vacation?

Perhaps you feel it gets in the way of your Art.  Maybe you’ve even given it a name, like:
Inner Critic
Procrastinator
Perfectionist

Maybe it’s a voice in your head that slows you down when you really want to GO, or speeds you up and causes you to get overwhelmed when you really want to just take it slow or watch Netflix.

It can be really frustrating, right?

You may see you are not where you want to be with your Art, and all you have is this pattern of disappointment and it can be super easy to just BLAME this part of you.

That’s what’s wrong, right?
If this was FIXED and just went away, all would be perfect!

So, how come every time we try to banish this voice away, it just comes back, sometimes stronger than before?
Will this cycle ever stop?

Last weekend I had a first.

I did my first ever weekend-long silent meditation retreat.

I’m a practicing Zen Buddhist.  Zen saved my life after a devastating year of loss back in 2013, and I’ve been practicing ever since with the Mountains and Rivers Order, mostly in Brooklyn at the Fire Lotus Temple.

This meditation retreat is called a Sesshin and means, “touching the heart-mind”.

I’ve been wanting to do a Sesshin for two years, so this was a long time coming and I entered the temple last Friday very ready.  Ready to sit.  Ready to be with myself.

It’s been an intense time for me, and feels like it’s been non stop for longer than I can remember with moving to NJ last year, planning and getting married, planning a huge online event for thousands, and then creating four more big events and workshops culminating in a full class of my signature program for professional artists, the Fearless Academy.

Did I mention in the middle of all this I also sustained a nasty calf injury, and got incredibly sick?
Did I mention during this time of stress I couldn’t dance or do yoga as stress relief?
Did I mention I’ve had a cough now for over 5 weeks?

Oh….and I’m also family planning.

Just a few things going on.

In the face of all this, I was VERY ready to just sit in silence.  I knew I needed space.

The first night was a healing balm and I slept deeply Friday.  We woke up at 4:20 am and I was on my cushion by 4:55.  This was where I wanted to be, and I could feel my whole body and mind relaxing.

But there was something that was plaguing me….the real reason I was here.

When I had face to face teaching with my teacher, I sat down across from him and said,
I have a question about my inner taskmaster.

He smiled right away and said,
Ah yes…..also known as the Controller.

I immediately felt myself tighten.  I hated that word. 

My teacher spoke into parts of himself that come up for him, and he referenced his inner Protector, which is him as a young boy on the streets of NYC with a knife.  He shared his Protector is fierce. Then he asked,
What do you think your Controller wants?

I said,
Faith.
Trust.
She wants to know everything is going to be ok.

My teacher looked at me, and said,
Are you sure?

He started to ask me if she actually wants love, and I could feel myself getting even tighter.  I thought of my incredible husband, and how much love he gives me.  I could feel myself inside screaming,
She doesn’t want LOVE, she just wants everything to be in order and OK!

I was getting even tighter.  This was hard for me.  Control had ruined my life, my former marriage, and so many aspects of my professional career. In the face of my divorce, and losing everything the biggest lesson I desperately wanted to learn was how to LET GO.  Trying to control my ex, my career, and people around me was exhausting and ultimately tore my life in two.  Clearly it didn’t work.

I didn’t WANT her here anymore.  She had ruined so much in my life.

Can you relate?

My teacher spoke into how his Protector will always be there. And as I sat there struggling, he asked me,
If your Controller doesn’t want love, then why is she such a bitch?

And then I got it…..I was actually making my Controller wrong.  I was saying she doesn’t belong. 
Oh my gosh….she actually did just want to be loved.

I went back out into the Zendo to sit with the others and we chanted the Identity of Relative and Absolute. My voice completely lodged in my throat as I couldn’t speak,
Each thing has it’s own intrinsic value
And is related to everything else in function and position

My mouth was forming the words I knew by heart with no sound…tears were streaming down my face as I realized,

My Controller has her own value.
She allows me to get things done.
She helps me with discipline and organization.
She helps me with deadlines, and is really the reason I have built my business to six figures.
AND she is related to ALL the other parts of me!

She is related to my creative goddess, my Zen practitioner, my feminine flow….
and they all co-exist inside me.

They don’t cancel each other out.  I can have her there WITH the others. She’s doing her job and they are doing theirs and it’s the unified effort that allows me to create the life I want.

All having their value.

And the reason I was suffering so much, was because I was making her wrong.

And I thought of what I have said to all of you so many times,
It’s not about cutting off pieces of yourself and making them wrong, it’s about bringing all of you into wholeness and integration.  This is where you will have your greatest power as an Artist and create the greatest connection with your audience.

Perhaps I say this to all of you, because I need to hear it again too.

So, what part of you have you wanted to banish?

If you stepped into that part, what do you think they want for you?
What are they here to help you with?

If you could bring love and acceptance to this part, and allow it to work WITH your other parts, what would this free you to be, do, or create this year?

What if your greatest work actually came from using ALL of you?
Did you know you actually have a team within you now to pull from?

What if you knew HOW to use them effectively?

Start with love.
It can really be that simple.

“Seek Delight in All”

Your Creative work is an expression of the whole.

Photography: Caitlin Cannon Photography