I tell new improvisers they all ready have everything they need to be a good improviser. They never believe me. They always think they have to be quick and clever when all they need to do is be what they are – human. And so far, all of my students have fit that category. Well, there was that one…
Life has provided us with a great body and five senses that help us to navigate every moment. If we paid attention to what is happening in the moment we would never have to worry about what to do or say next. That being said, very few of us trust that this is true. Improvisation gives us the opportunity to discover this truth for ourselves. Time and time again we are given situations or topics that we must respond to and we discover that we can!
In my corporate work I use improv exercises to help clients relax and discover the depth of information available to them in the present moment. Truth be told, you really can’t be anywhere else. However, when we get stuck thinking and forget to breathe, we end up losing our powers of observation and we miss what is actually happening right in front of us. This is something we’ve all experienced one way or another:
You’re thinking of an answer and don’t hear what’s being said.
You’re remembering a conversation and you misplace your car keys.
You’re planning your next move and miss vital information.
Improv exercises help us to rediscover that we can operate more efficiently and effectively if we are not overthinking, but instead, being (seeing, feeling, listening) with what is happening.
Improvisation teaches us to pause and breathe before responding, to take in what is happening, and only then, to respond. You observe, listen, and allow yourself the luxury of seeing what is happening in that moment. So it’s not thinking, but rather observing that makes all the difference. In fact, truth be told, improvisation is not about thinking at all. It’s more about seeing, listening and responding.
For those of you who are nonbelievers, think about it. (Yes, I realize what I just said.) Think about the last time you were in the zone and lost time. Think about that presentation that spoke itself. Think about that answer you came up with that just came to you. That’s what I’m talking about. In those circumstances you were not thinking and yet you were very present. Improv helps us to exercise that muscle so that the present moment is more available to us or I should say, so that we are more available to the present moment.