On my recent train trip back from launching our newest regional North West chapter in Manchester during the Women in Comedy Festival, I took advantage of the Beam service on Virgin Trains and watched the film La La Land.
I have had a particularly hectic few weeks of running events and workshops in the wake of a very disruptive house and office move so any opportunity to truly relax is seized upon. I love a film that transports you to another dimension so with the world whizzing by and my headphones on, La La Land really helped me to unwind and forget how stressful the last few weeks have been.
I have heard as many people say they love this film as hate it – it’s a definite Marmite of a movie. I unashamedly fall into the ‘love’ category because it took me to a place that we don’t often explore. La La Land is an exploration about following and sharing your dreams and the film sets out to show you how your wishes might be fulfilled, even in a way you may not have expected.
At the risk of going all hippy-dippy on you, it helped me galvanise my thoughts about the importance of dreaming and making the occasional wish. Wishing is akin to asking the universe to provide for us or praying. Dreaming is your mind running free. Our minds are powerful.
Those of you who have taken part in my Stand Up to Stand Out workshops, either for comedy purposes or to build confidence for business or creativity, know how passionate I am about pushing our mental boundaries. Serious unadulterated wishing gets pushed out of the way with the self-consciousness and inhibition that comes with age and responsibility. Our childhood dreams get relegated to the back of our minds as we deal with the here and now of everyday life.
It is as important for us to exercise our brains for the creative process as it is to exercise our bodies to stay fit. The active mental process of wishing gives our brains permission to dream and connects us to a dimension that some of us no longer access. Comedians, musicians, artists and writers all use their ability to wish and dream as an important part of the creative process. They may not even do this consciously but it informs their art.
I am a great advocate of active mindfulness for the pursuit of creativity. I like to help people work in the moment, eschewing the ability of the multitasking brain to focus on one thing, and a dream or wish is a brilliant focus for this kind of thinking. It’s very easy to be side-lined into negative thoughts rooted in reality so I use my technique to help push the mental boundaries.
We can wish for anything however mad, bad or improbable it may be. Just think about how much crazy stuff your brain comes up with when you actually dream. How many books, films, compositions, works of art look like they’ve come straight out of a dream sequence. La La Land is the perfect template.
Just to complete the creative circle while I am exploring my own state of active mindfulness, our innate ability to collaborate and communicate is another key component of my Stand Up to Stand Out workshop. I demonstrate how easily women can build their confidence through creative collaboration.
I never instruct anybody to ‘be funny’ as this only serves to shut down the important neural pathways that need to be open and free for the creative process. My role is simply to help turn the key to unlock the funny stuff that’s already there.