Staying Present in Unprecedented Times: Part 1

IMG_1041
Christine orienting in much more pleasant circumstances, in a very different world back in December 

Hi Friends,

There’s no doubt about it– these are some unprecedented times. At the time we are publishing this post, the UK and much of Europe are on lockdown– we don’t know how long it’s going to go on and how much our world is going to change by the time we get through the health crisis caused by Covid-19.

If you’re like us, you may be finding yourself particularly isolated and anxious these days. We created a three-part series to help you stay present and find some ease in these crazy times. This episode is the first part, and will take you through a practice called ‘Orientation’, which is essentially connecting to the environment you’re in through your five senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste– so that you can connect to the neutral reality of the here and now, and maybe even what’s pleasant about the here and now.

This practice is especially useful if you find that your thoughts and feelings are consistently spiraling towards fear/worry/anxiety about the future, or even if your focus in the present moment is consistently getting drawn towards ‘what’s wrong’ with the present moment. Orientation can help you come back to other aspects of the reality of here and now– from what’s okay to even what’s pleasant– so that it’s easier for you to access the full range of your experience. This helps ensure that, as and when you need to communicate, you can communicate from a place of connection and ease. Orientation is a useful practice for any time in life, but particularly right now.

Orientation is something we do naturally, but the wording of this practice is inspired by a body of work called Organic Intelligence(r). To learn more about Organic Intelligence, you can listen to our previous podcast episode, ‘How to Become More Present: Conversation with Craig Deuchar‘ and/or here.

You can also find this episode in podcast format by searching for ‘BeSpoke Speaks’ on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Spotify, GooglePodcasts and Stitcher.

Please let us know how you get on with this practice, what questions it brings up for you, and if you have other ideas around how we can support you at this time. Please also share this episode with anyone you feel could use this support.

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

How to become more Present: Conversation with Craig Deuchar

Craig Final Headshot - Smiley Red T-Shirt Far copy
Craig Deuchar

We recorded this episode and wrote this post a few weeks ago, having no idea of the world we’d be living in when it came out. We think this post is especially important in this new reality, as we are all grappling with the anxiety that comes from the unknown. We hope you find the tools in this episode useful and we hope that you are staying healthy and well! 

Hey Friends,

Are you looking to become more present in your communication, or just in general? In this episode, Christine talks with her dear friend and colleague Craig Deuchar about a body of work called Organic Intelligence(r), and why it can be a useful practice to help you become more present generally and in your communication. Christine started working with Craig on an OI practice almost two years ago, and it has completely transformed the way she approaches communication training.

Organic Intelligence is a mindfulness and compassion based clinical approach designed to alleviate the symptoms of stress, anxiety and trauma and help people live more present and vibrant lives. Christine talks to Craig about why, as a practice, it can help people become more present communicators. Themes that come up are:

– how OI can help alleviate the stress and anxiety that often comes with public speaking and performance by helping you take your attention off of “what’s wrong”
– An explanation of how Fight/Flight/Freeze states can take over in communication situations, and how a practice called Orientation can help you not only reconnect to yourself and your environment, but even find more enjoyment and curiosity in your communication
– how OI is different from (and yet complementary to) other mindfulness-based approaches and public speaking training/actor training approaches

You can find out more about Organic Intelligence at www.organicintelligence.org.

Craig is a voice, presence and OI coach and does some corporate communication work. He works with the nervous system to help people get more regulated on a biological level and how that manifests into their lives in a positive way, whether through an OI session or a voice session or an acting session. Find out more about him at www.craigdcoaching.co.uk.

You can also download this episode in podcast form on iTunes, BuzzSprout, GooglePlay, Stitcher and Spotify.

What curiosities does this bring up for you? We’d love to hear so we can address them in future episodes!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

Listen Up Part 2: Embodied Listening Sequence

e0c1315f-ed03-4ab0-ab52-d9eb55391b7c
Embodied living coach Nathalie Joel-Smith 

Hey Friends,

This episode is a follow-up from “Listen Up”, which came out a few weeks ago. In that episode, embodied living coach Nathalie-Joel Smith and Christine talked about the important role that listening plays in communication, and why it can be so hard to do. In this episode, Nathalie guides you through an embodied listening sequence so that you can actually practice listening, which you can use as a warm up and as a standalone practice in honing your ability to be more present in your own body and surroundings.

The invitation in this sequence is to start by listening to what’s going on with ourselves— getting better and better at it so that we can also extend that attention to others.

There will be some movement so wear comfortable clothing. There will also be an opportunity to lie down we’ll lie down so you might like to have a blanket or a mat to be more comfortable.

We recorded this at rush hour so there are quite a few trains going through the episode. You can use them as a way of listening to sounds that are going on outside of you and the space you’re in, which you’ll be invited to do during the sequence.

You can also download this episode in podcast form on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Stitcher, GooglePlay and Spotify by searching for “BeSpoke Speaks.”

You can find out more about Nathalie at http://www.nathaliejoelsmith.co.uk. She’s on Facebook and Instagram @the_creative_body.

Let us know how it goes! Is this kind of practice new to you and what questions does it bring up? Has it helped you listen better in a particular situation or generally? We’d love to know!

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

 

The Importance of Voicework for Camera: Conversation with Mark Street

Mark Photo 2019
Mark Street 

Hey Friends,

Are you an actor who is working or who has an interest in working in Film/TV? If so, this episode is geared for you.

In this episode, Christine interviews her dear friend and colleague Mark Street about the importance of actors applying their voice work to any work they do on camera. Mark is a filmmaker and Screen Acting Tutor at ArtsEd in London, and in his work he identifies several regular pitfalls that actors fall into vocally when working onscreen, including:

  • dropping the voice down and not having intention. This sometimes comes from relying too much on a microphone, and sometimes it happens because actors confuse sounding “natural” or “real” with sounding under-energized and uncommitted
  • Coloring the voice without any intention behind it. This often happens because actors aren’t thinking through the thoughts they’re speaking out loud.

Mark talks about the importance of intention and thought to on-camera acting work, and how crucial the voice and body are to communicating with intention. Themes that come up are:

  • The uselessness of focusing on sounding “natural” or “real”. Instead, it’s more helpful for actors to focus on what they want from who they are talking to
  • Defining “The Victory Statement”– a visual actors can give themselves to know if they are getting what they want from the other person
  • Defining the “Real Space” that actors have to consider when working on camera and how to play it vocally
  • The importance of actors having a rehearsal system for themselves before they go onset that includes working the scene vocally and physically, as film/tv schedules offer very little onset rehearsal time
  • The importance of breathing to Intention in acting, as well as to keeping the actor grounded in high-pressure film environments

There is not a lot of information out there about how to apply voice work to film/tv work, so if you are a Film/TV actor or someone who speaks regularly on camera, this episode is a good starting point for how to consider your voice when working. Let us know what questions this brings up for you! We are already in discussion with Mark about potential follow-up episodes based on your questions.

If this episode inspires you to do some voice warm ups before doing some work on camera, you can find some guided sequences here and here.

If you’d like to download this episode in podcast form, you can find it on iTunes, BuzzSprout, Stitcher, GooglePlay and Spotify by searching for “Bespoke Speaks.”

For more about Mark Street:

Mark trained as an actor before directing and writing plays on the London fringe circuit. He was a co-founder of 104 Theatre Company with which he won the Edinburgh Fringe First Award for a devised piece entitled ‘See Base Of Can’.

He then started his own production company ‘From The Streets Productions’ with his wife and Producer Jane Street. Together they began working on short film projects alongside their theatre work. Mark’s first film went on to showcase at London’s Raindance Film Festival and his second ‘The Noisy Neighbour’ a horror based on Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Tell-Tale Heart’ began its festival run at ‘The Commonwealth Film Festival’. Mark has gone on to have a successful career directing for both stage and screen collaborating with a wealth of talented writers, editors, animators and producers.

Mark is currently developing his next feature having just finished his feature-length documentary entitled ‘The Space: Theatre of Survival’ – about a young group of writers, directors, actors and artists that used their work to challenge the racist government in Apartheid South Africa during the 1970s. The film is currently touring the festival circuit with distribution later in the year.

Mark also enjoys teaching screen acting at Arts Ed where he is the Senior Screen Acting Tutor.

Film Website: www.thespacetheatre.com

Personal Web: www.markstreetfilm.com

Twitter: @markstreetfilm

Instagram: markstreetfilm

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Mark.Street.Films/

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay

Voice in Tech!

IMG_1159

Hey Friends!

This week’s episode is of the future! Not really because we recorded back in January but the focus of our discussion and tips is voice and tech. We discuss the potential barriers of technology to effective communication and offer tips and tricks to turn it to your advantage. Whether you’re submitting audition videos, live streaming meetings or events in your job, or—I don’t know—podcasting at home, this is for you!

We also cover working with tech in live situations, so discussing different types of microphones, including a side story about discovering what AV teams refer to as “the Madonna Mic,” and really emphasising the importance of asking for what you prefer or need in a situation where tech is required to support your voice!

So get ready to embrace your status as tech lay person, lean into the importance of doing sound checks before you record or launch your live stream, and embrace the reach that technology allows us to have. As always, we’re keen to hear your questions and comments so please contact us however you see fit.

You can find this episode in podcast form on iTunes, Spotify, Google Podcast and the majority of alternative platforms. Please subscribe and review if you’re enjoying our content!

Until next time. Remember, the future is now! ; )

Take good care,

Christine & Lindsay