I am Carles Vila,
Welcome to Brainspot Acting!
Since 2011 I have worked intensively with professional actors and actresses, and other stage performers such as dancers, singers, tv hosts and athletes who suffer from performance blocks: emotional or physical states (especially physical rigidity or lack of control or coordination, which at it’s most extreme expresses itself as focal dystonia) that interfere in different levels of their performance.
I also work with stage or on-camera performers, who look for brain-body based coaching because they seek to expand their range of expression, opening up to new possibilities in the quality of their work.
In the case of actors, expansion means also expanding the emotional connection and expression of the Characters (states) portrayed.
In other disciplines expansion is focused towards the fine tuning of a task or movement, a development of an emotional state, rol or a new presence.
… All of it as they develop a new balanced sense of themselves and of their self-esteem and self-confidence.
At Brainspot Acting I offer ONLINE personal programs, individual and group experiences to help actors resolve the neurophysiological root of emotional-physical performance blocks and stage fright that interfere with the creative process.
If you are an actor or an actress you might have experienced at some time some kind of performance block.
Performance blocks are a result of an underlying sense of unsafety: FEAR.
Fears of making a mistake, of disappointing others, of feeling compared to others, of feeling stupid, of not having enough preparation, of being a «bad» actor, of being ignored by the audience, of missing out, of loosing your mind… but even the fear of maybe loosing your passion and all you have dreamt of.
THE FACES OF FEAR
Fear in an actor can show in a range from subtle grades of insecurity, preoccupation, worry and anxiety to a subtle muscular tension, nervousness or agitation to an overwhelming emotional collapse, full blown shell-shock, paralysis and panic, which has lead many actors to even want to quit.
The good news is that the emotion of fear, as any other emotion, has always a positive intent: it is your brain alerting you of a potential threat or loss.
A MAGNIFYING GLASS EFFECT
Being on stage or in front of a camera or audience can be a threat to your nervous system. It produces a magnifying glass effect in the actor’s survival system which naturally results in amplified body reactions.
Usually actors become concerned when the effects of the performance block spill into other areas of an actor’s personal or professional life.
PERFORMANCE BLOCKS ARE TABOO
You might think performance blocks are struggles of inexperienced actors…
… but in my practice many of my clients happen to be very seasoned even popular actors and artists.
We don’t hear about it because performance blocks are «taboo» amongst actors, no one talks about it… as if an actor couldn’t be nervous or anxious in a stage because there’s that sense of duty towards the audience… the commitment to the show… «the show must go on».
The truth is, performance blocks can happen to any actor at any given moment.
PERFORMANCE BLOCK SIGNALS
Some principal aspects of performance blocks and stage fright in actors and other artists have to do with the dimensions of:
Cognitive distortions are thoughts. They are usually not rooted on truth but on core beliefs about ourselves, others and life, that we experience as absolute truths. They have a filter effect on how we see and experience the world around us, and these thoughts pop up mostly when we are going through a stressful or vulnerable moment. These have the form of over-generalizations, thoughts of «I should», thoughts based on either-or/all-or-nothing polarized statements, selecting and discarding information of reality that supports the distortion, establishing unequal comparisons, magnifying-minimizing perceptions…
These are non-conscious automatic reactions of the autonomic nervous system and your body chemistry when it senses any kind of unsafety. Your nervous system is 24/7 reading without your awareness for signals of what/who makes you feel safe or unsafe. You only become aware of any of that activity when your deep brain needs your rational-decision making brain’s cooperation. So when your body feels too much heat signals the rational brain to attend that. And so the rational brain chooses to turn on the A/C. But for signals of threat the deep brain takes control out of emergency, in a more primitive survival way, preparing you to confront the threat. Some of these reactions are: Shaking, hyperventilation, interrupting breathing or flat breathing, sweat, gastro-intestinal dysregulation, dizzynes, not feeling certain parts of the body, muscular tensions or immobilization (both mental and physical), increase in heart rate, palpitations… but also great struggle with emotional connection/expression of the Characters portrayed, such as anger, sadness, joy etc.
They are a result of the previous. As a response to a deep sense of unsafety we DO and take actions. For actors one very habitual is avoidance, for example procrastinating the builidng of a demo-reel or taking headshots, avoiding auditions, jobs or performances etc. Other examples are: putting the blame on others, judging other’s performances, not participating fully and not engaging with the creative process, incapacity to take direction or rebelling against it, placing the focus on performance mistakes as a habit, sabotaging artistic relationships, setting oneself up for failure before having tried, being extremely sensitive and defensive towards feedback, over-preparing and over-analyzing, argueing with directors or scene partners, habitual forgetting of lines, overacting and underacting (cardboard acting).
Attachment issues and feelings related to the expectations and dynamics of approaching-separation towards others. They are rooted in our earliest relationships or in early fears and fantasies experienced as real (even when they have never happened). Deep feelings we have carried in ourselves for long and don’t seem to have to do with the present reality. Fear and anticipation of being critized, of being humiliated, of handling failure or handling success, of disappointing others, fear of not being enough, of looking stupid or loosing approval of industry mates… We transfer relational experiences of the past into the present relationships.
As you have grown as a professional actor you might have dealt with situations which are painful (forgetting the lines, being rejected in an audition…). These professional wounds can become stuck memories and even reinforcing experiences of past beliefs.
It is common to feel some anxiety as an actor in front of an audience. But it is related to the excitement of jumping into the unknown, the adventure.
A complete absence of anxiety, on the other hand, is not a «normal» reaction to performing in front of an audience.
Fear is ok, it is natural to feel fear. You can acknowledge that, It means your system runs fine!
What you do with your fear,
Who are you with when you experience fear,
How do you experience fear is what helps the fear emotion to be integrated naturally…
… or become stuck and encapsulated.
ACTORS AND STRESS
In the book «Stage Fright in the Actor», Linda Brennan, Ph.D, states how a recent study showed that «approximately two thirds of actors use some form of coping mechanism to deal with the physical and emotional effects of acting. These go from physical exercise, life coaching, therapy, yoga, Alexander Technique… But many use also drugs, alcohol, prescription drugs like antidepressants an anti-anxiety meds. Some actors also use substances like marijuana or nathuropathic remedies, or food and caffeine, and some even use illegal substances and engage in activities that can threaten their employment.»
Naming and acknowledging fear can stimulate anxiety, the rush to do something to escape the uncomfortable feelings.
Dr. Brennan suggests to take this perspective:
Think if it as if you are beginning to research a Character… YOU.
Bringing awareness to the presence and signals of performance interferences and stress are the first step to take charge of it in a truly helpful way.
DID YOU KNOW…
… that Harrison Ford, Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Robin Williams, Bruce Willis, Steve Jobs, Adele, David Bowie, Hugh Grant, Daryl Hannah are a few amongst the many stage artists and public figures who have suffered from performance blocks?
YOUR BODY’S RESPONSE TO THREAT
A performance block is your nervous system’s reaction to a stimulus that threatens any developed pattern that you depend on to feel safe.
The threatening stimulus may be internal, such as a thought, a felt sensation, a reaction to the memories of a painful experience…
… or external stimuli such as an object, a person or situation.
A performance block is the response of your body to experiences you’ve had which activated your nervous system in «survival mode».
This meaning that your nervous system is stuck in that survival mode in either of the following ways:
Hyper-activated (ON) or Hypo-activated (OFF), beyond normal levels and beyond the normal timings for stabilization.
So how your nervous system is activated becomes the regular state experienced in your daily life and as your stage life as an actor.
And there’s nothing wrong with you as an actor if you experience any kind of performance block. There’s nothing wrong with you not being able to manage it…
… If you experience regularly some of the stressed nervous system symptoms perhaps your nervous system has been for too long OVERACTIVATED OR UNDERACTIVATED as a usual state, beyond the levels of stabilization, making it for you unable to go ahead with the performance without that tension. For some actors being hiper-activated or hipo-activated, or both alternatively, is their normal state of being, something identitary. So being stabilized, inhabit their bodies, is an experience they can’t acess easily which makes it really hard if they have to access the Character’s emotions because their own dysregulation is in the way.
YOUR «BLOCK» IS A DEFENSE
There’s a chance you are not aware of precise activations in your body because of what we call dissociation. It is a split, a trench, between your mind and your body that has been set up as an inner defense. To do that had to be for you an only option at a given time, and still remains activated. This trench has been hardened for so long that it nurtures it’s own emotional states and ways of thinking about yourself and the world, even growing to become your identity and sense of self.
This dissociative process of detachment leaves very little space of consciousness to know what happens inside of you and know who you really are, because your psychic energy is invested in keeping the defense.
Your deep brain all it wants is to KEEP YOU SAFE.
As we work together we aim to integrate and connect what was once dissociated finding new ways to engage your psychic energy.
So, as you may imagine, this journey profoundly transforms the way you experience yourself, and as a result the way you perceive who you are today and your possibilities.
THE INSTRUMENT IS YOU
As an actor, as you already know, YOU are the instrument.
An instrument which is your brain and body, and that includes your nervous system…
I believe actors should care for themselves just as musicians care for their instruments.
It is part of the commitment to a healthy creative process and living.
Getting to know yourself as an actor deepens your performance, as it expands your sense of self and of being anchored.
At Brainspot Acting I can help you unwind, release, dissolve and resolve physiological and emotional blocks that interfere in your fluidity and creative freedom of expression, deeply influencing your self-confidence.
Here’s why I can help you.
I have successfully been doing this work since 2011. I’m both an experienced therapist and film director, as well as an acting-on-camera coach. I have directed actors in film and television primetime national shows for 20 years, have helped more than 1000 actors to work emotionally and creatively on camera and have offered therapy for hundreds of professional actors and artists: dancers, singers, tv hosts, musicians, film directors, screenwriters etc.
Brainspot Acting is a space of dedication to the help of actors and other stage performers. The sharing of my joy to help others as I have been helped so lovingly by others in my own creative journey.
I am not excited about helping you become a great actor only by pumping up your ego…
It is about connecting to who you truly are, as an artist and as a human being.
I am commited to help you experience acting in a way you haven’t ever imagined it.
The BA Actors Performance Block Resolution Program (APBRP)
It is the central project of Brainspot Acting. A staged process focused on achieving the resolution of performance neuro-physiological blocks of actors and other stage artists. It is developed for actors on the base of the FDC Method by Ruth Chiles.
- This is an ongoing program based on stages aligned with the meticulous resolution of performance blocks, stage anxiety or focal dystonia.
- We will work ONLINE, so we can work together from anywhere you are in the planet.
- In this program the work is done in the sessions and in-between sessions.
We will work with two cutting edge methodologies which have been proven highly effective for performance block resolution:
- The Brainspotting Neuroexperiential Model, a brain-body therapeutic and coaching approach discovered by David Grand, Phd, as a dynamic evolution of Flow EMDR.
- And the FCD Method, developed by Ruth Chiles and described in her book “The Focal Dystonia Cure”, which includes Brainspotting as a neuroprocessing tool. By the way, if you are an actor or stage performer I highly encourage you to read Ruth Chile’s book.
Here’s some information that might help you have a wider glimpse of how these two methodologies can help you…
Brainspotting is a dynamic cutting edge therapeutical and coaching technique for the release of emotional cores and the development of expansive performing states.
It is one of the most innovative, organic, powerful and widely investigated methodologies in neuroscience today.
It is an open neuro-experiential model of processing the experience, which offers a different perspective from other therapies by tapping into the brain-body neurophysiology and attuning to the rising inner experience.
There’s a studied correlation between the eye position and the access we have to subcortical memories (emotional cores).
Brainspotting is based on the scanning of the visual field, the angle of the eye position (brainspot), and it’s connection to the neural networks related to a stored experience in the brain-body systems.
As your eyes remain focused in a certain angle (a brainspot!), the optic nerve stimulates in your brain the neural network that activates a particular physiological state connected to memories stored in that specific network.
As we surrender to the intent of trying to do anything correctly or push the process in any preconceived direction we sit-with-the-experience and observe mindfully the brain take the process of self-regulation without any assumptions.
This is what we call neuro-experiential processing.
Brainspotting allows us to recognise, express, process and resolve performance blocks and stage fright by focusing on the neurophysiological root of the block with a high rate of success.
And as we do this we allow space for the brain to find by itself new possibilities for change.
The FDC Method by Ruth Chiles
Designed for the resolution of “focal dystonia” and performance blocks.
This methodology guides, contains and follows the client through different stages/phases of attunement repair, inner system balance, recognition of the neuro-muscular experience, unwinding, releasing and resolving blocks of activation, and eventually working on building new flow state neural patterns of expansion.
Expansion means opening up to the creating of new states of possibility.
The expansion process includes, from the building and integrating of resourceful inner states of self-esteem, empowerment, connection to a project or a role, states of inner peace and capacity.
And for actors the expansion processes include the access to states such as the emotional states of a Character and all it’s inner system of memories, thoughts, sensations, emotional patterns of connection to other character, to places, to objects, to memories and to every aspect of the screenplay or text.
When we use Brainspotting for Character Access we create a full dimensional world inside the actor that can be experienced and that guides your performance organically.
In order to host the activation states of the character your nervous system needs to be centered in the Self, in safety mode and stabilized, so your inner activations don’t interfere with that of the character.
This process takes the performance of any actor to a greater level of truth, grit and expressive quality.
If you choose to commit to the program and we work together these are some of the outcomes you MIGHT accomplish:
You might discover extraordinarily new possibilities in the way you perform, feel and perceive yourself as an actor, on stage or on camera… even maybe as you’ve never experienced before.
You might feel a sense of embodiment and anchoring that accompanies you on your daily life.
You might discover yourself flowing in a new way on the set or stage: more free, and even things seeming to happen more easily for you.
You might discover yourself enjoying the process and wanting to participate even more.
You might find that the world around you is nicer at you, and want to come closer to you… because you are probably nicer to yourself, and the world notices somehow. We enjoy being with people who are welcoming and curious.
You might find out you have great ideas… and lots of them!
You might discover that your performance is now felt, as you had longed for when you chose to become an artist, and that your work creates a greater impact externally.
You might discover how your emotional connection to the Characters you portray opens up into an infinite world of possibilites. And the expression of these through your system becomes free from interferences (overacting-underacting, stage fright, blocks), expanded and intuitive.
You might find out feeling deeply connected to yourself, your work, your mates, and enjoying the sharing of who you are.
You might find out how all I have said before makes who you are more visible, more present, and more attractive to those who have to hire you (casting directors, agents, directors…).
You might find out you are getting hired more than you used to, or even that you are starting your own self-sustainable business.
Yes, I have used MIGHT because the truth is we don’t know.
What I do know from my professional experience is that…
… most of all that I have described above does happen.
It just takes different forms for each actor… which is part of the discovery and the KNOWING of who you are.
How long is the performance block resolution program?
- The personal program is a simple yet complex process, focused on the resolution of performance blocks, it is not a regular Brainspotting session or therapy, which can be complementary. As you have seen it is structured on the stages of the FDC Method which is a precise approach to the resolution of performance blocks. Each stage must be travelled with fine attunement and great respect for each person’s process and rhythm.
- If you’re in a hurry for results then this program might not be for you now. The goal is a profound resolution. My commitment here is to your wellness, attuning first to the space your inner system needs to restore it’s natural balance and before it is set for expansion. It is like orthodontics and teeth!
- If you feel you are not ready yet it’s totally fine, I will be happy to work together when you feel ready. Meanwhile, I suggest you follow the exercises and links I will share through social media and that will help you try out some of the concepts of the method.
- For each of the steps I will be guiding you through deep therapeutic release work and trainings that you will be able to work with in your own time, and really helps with the process and will help you integrate self-management habilities.
- Before starting a process, which involves full commitment on both sides, we’ll have a first evaluation session, which doesn’t commit you to anything and has no cost for you. I helps us both learn about your needs, answer to your questions, clarify any aspect that concerns you, explain how we will work and also see if we’re a good match and make sure I am the person that can help you.
- The length of a process will vary depending on the complexity of your situation, your inner rhythm in the process, and how long has the block activated inside.
- For blocks that might have been rooted for years, we will have to choose on working with specific aspects, and take the process through short, medium and long term steps.
- For many actors the process with the FDC Method, might take an average of 10 to 23 sessions. But again, this is to give some structure to the very controlling minds. A «full» process for some clients may not be «a complete resolution», understood as erasing or deleting. A complete process can mean for some clients with chronic issues to achieve the possibility of functioning fluidly, joyfully and with a sense of inner safety, integration and connection, without being paralyzed. Which can be extraordinary for many artists used to live with pain and suffering. An example of it would be: If you have a broken leg you will be able to walk again, but you might not be able to run a marathon again. So the work we do together is not magic, it’s physiological, taking into account that every person is unique.
- Each session of Brainspotting is 75-80 mins long.
- The sessions will take place in a weekly basis. Once the process is advanced we can consider spacing the sessions, but it will depend on where we’re at in the process. Once the performance block is resolved, there are clients who book “maintenance” sessions monthly.
- We work in blocks of 10 sessions after which we evaluate where we are at. So you will have to start with a 10 session non-refundable package to be paid upfront.
- 3 to 5 initial sessions are usually needed to have an idea of how you process, get to know you, and also to recognize the main difficulties we might face which helps us foresee and have an estimation how much work we’ll need ahead.
- But there’s no exact recipe, every person is profoundly different and every process is also distinct.
The rational brain meets the emotional brain
One thing that is great about Brainspotting is that YOU lead the process.
By YOU we don’t refer to the «rational brain», which is usually the one who takes credit for who YOU are. We refer here to the deep brain, the experiential and emotional base from where you build the sense of who YOU are. This base is the subcortical brain. Because it is located under the neocortical brain, the thinking brain.
For the work we’re going to do together we will trust the subcortical brain’s processes, not the rational mind’s assumptions of what your problem is and what you need to resolve it and how.
This might confuse at first because the «rational» mind might struggle understanding the non-linear flow of the «emotional» brain. The rational brain might want to do it right, to push too hard, to expect measurable results, to analize and understand too much, to have some control over the process. It might have a different agenda and want to rush through the process in order to reach the next stage. It is normal if it happens, it is a manifestation of your «survival mode» activation and an automatized pattern of DOING and not BEING.
It’s not psychological
We take a leap away from «the narrative» the analysis and talking about the problem (domains of the rational mind) and we focus on the experiential, the visual and metaphoric, the felt sense (domains of the subcortical brain). Everytime we get analytical, in our brain, we disconnect from the experiential process.
In our sessions we choose to limit the analysis just to setup the issues and for moments of integration of the work. That’s one big difference from this method with other forms of coaching or therapy.
Brainspotting is not psychological, it is not pathological, it is neuro-experiential and physiological, with a psychological impact.
You grow to KNOW about your inner system and we just follow the natural and organic process of the brain.
We assume WE DON’T KNOW what is good for you, instead your subcortical brain has that natural capacity.
We work in an always evolving process
Brainspotting is an open model, which means that every time we work together and you tune into your inner system you process and “update” your inner software, even if it is for a few minutes. It is a process, and is always evolving… in the session, but also and specially in between sessions. There’s no way back. That’s how your emotional subcortical brain works. So you will get from the process the time you put into it.
In every session we will use Brainspotting and the resources of the FDC Method to move step-by-step through the road of developing mind-body self-attunement, recognizing, unwinding, releasing and resolving activation blocks in it’s multiple complexities.
Let me know how I can help you.
Feel free to reach me for a first free-of-charge meeting so we can evaluate your situation, see if we’re a good match, and make sure I am the best person for you.
Disclaimer: This is a brain-body based performance coaching work focused on physiological blocks that get in the way of your work, it is not a psychological therapy, neither we work to resolve medically framed pathologies. Clients affected by severe trauma or clinically diagnosed pathologies usually require a special placement of the focus on the self-attunement, and inner system stabilization phases, which might extend the process and even be the only work we do. If this is the case we will discuss this in advance. So if you have been diagnosed with any kind of psychiatric or psychological disorder you should let me know in advance so we can evaluate what might a best approach for you.