Jones, Lorraine P. (2019) An investigation into mindfulness, creativity and the actor. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

As a teacher of drama in a Post-16 Further Education College I had become aware of the increasing number of students struggling with poor emotional well-being and mental health issues. With an overwhelming number of students seeking help from the College health practitioner and referrals to the counsellor, it was necessary to look for alternative methods to support my students, hence the idea evolved to embed mindfulness in my lessons. Mindfulness, akin to the work of the actor, explores the interrelationship between mind and body, and the human condition, and encourages people to view the world from diverse perspectives. The mental health and emotional well-being of my students became the instigator. The intention was to enable them to gain insight into the minds workings and to develop the ability to self-regulate, which, in turn, would support their actor training. This being comparable to the work of Constantin Stanislavsky, who was influenced by Eastern practices in the development of the System.

With limited literature on mindfulness and the actor, it was necessary to look to Kabat-Zinn, Williams and Penman, who successfully relocated mindfulness in health and therapy. In the various publications studied there was a clear consensus in identified benefits when practicing mindfulness. Benefits shared across diverse domains, include,improved attention and concentration, a sense of gratitude, strengthened compassion toward others, emotional awareness and self-regulation, and extending insight into the self.

My exploration of mindfulness and the relationship to the actor in Post-16 education ran over a period of eight months, and included a range of research methods, such as, observation, discussion and questionnaires. Findings included qualitative data comparable with other practitioners, including Baltzell, who successfully renegotiated mindfulness in the area of sport, music and dance. The majority of participants within the study articulated a new-found calmness, relaxed states, a deeper understanding of how the mind can cause unnecessary worry and anxiety; in turn, improved emotional well-being. The positives extended to utilising the inner creative source, expanding imagination and creativity, impacting positively on learning, the actor process and experience, ensemble work and final performance outcomes.

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