Series co-created with Justin Sandercoe 

This post and guided meditation are designed to recode our minds around what it means to perform. 

Normally when we even just think of “performing” our heart rate increases, our senses are heightened, we may get a little dizzy or our palms might start to sweat. We often attach the term ‘anxiety’ to these very normal physiological responses. 

But what if instead of “performance anxiety” we considered our bodies’ natural reactions as “performance excitement”?

Same event, different interpretation. 

Here’s what the two associations look like in terms of our biochemistry and physiology: 

In the first scenario, when we assign the meaning of ‘anxiety’ to the event, our bodies start to release stress hormones: adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine…  If prolonged, this biochemistry can lead to more of those undesirable consequences–clenched muscles, jittery hands, tight throat… we might completely forget what we were prepared for seconds before. And we all know what it feels like to watch a nervous performer.  

Now, consider the second scenario, when we decide to label the sensations in our body as signs of excitement. We still experience an adrenaline rush, which can help increase our focus, but now we also have some powerful performance enhancers joining the chemical party: serotonin, dopamine, endorphins… 

So, you see, there’s an event, neutral in and of itself; then there’s our interpretation of the event. 

The simple act of reframing our perception of the same event allows us to live that event in an entirely different way, and affect our audiences differently as a result. 

I’m going to suggest one final interpretation of performance and then invite you to meditate on it with us.

What if we replace the concept of “performing” with the more empowering idea of PLAYING? We all like to play and when we connect and co-create with our audience (one person or thousands) this way, we also release oxytocin, which bonds us to everyone and everything. 

Let’s meditate on that. Here’s the link. 🙂