Mindfulness Meets Improvisation-Part 1: Listen and Respond

According to applied improvisation blogger, Rachel Ben there are six ways that mindfulness and improvisation align with each other.  

  1. Listen and Respond
  2. Be Present
  3. Start Anywhere
  4. Embrace Uncertainty
  5. Be Kind
  6. Cultivate Generosity

The first is that both practices teach us to listen and respond.  Mindfulness, in fact, is sometimes described as “deep listening”  because in mindfulness meditation we are training the mind to let go of the internal chatter in our heads that ruminates about the past and worries about the future in order to simply observe our present moment experience.  When we can let go of that chatter, we can actually give our full attention to the person who is speaking and respond genuinely.  While mindfulness is generally practiced and taught as meditation; seated, eyes closed and silent, it can also be developed, cultivated and practiced on our feet, with our eyes open while we are interacting with other people.  It is not our posture that makes us mindful, it is how we focus our attention.  

Eighty percent of success is showing up   –Woody Allen

One of the most obvious ways that mindfulness and improvisation align is that they both teach us to be present.  The mind wanders.  Have you ever noticed?  It just does. And it thinks, a lot.  In mindfulness, we are not trying to get rid of our thoughts.  We are trying to stop chasing them so we can “stay put” with the problem we are wresting with or the conversation we are having.  We learn to “stay put” by giving the mind something stay put on that is actually happening right NOW; our breath, sounds in the room, the funny thing our scene partner just said, etc.  When we can focus on what is happening NOW with an open and flexible mind, we feel present.  We are in the game.  

If you are interested in experiencing two practices, join Beth Boynton and me for our exciting launch of the workshop:

Stronger Together:  The Extra Strength PILL for Connecting with Presence & Fun

Mindfulness and improvisation?  To help people develop emotional intelligence, good communication skills, presence and deeper connections?  Granted, it’s a little out of the box.  But most fun, cutting edge and innovative stuff is.  -Liz Korabek-Emerson


Liz is a certified mindfulness instructor, transformational workshop leader and creative coach dedicated to helping people become more resilient through mindfulness.  Since 2012 she has been designing and leading mindfulness programs for individuals and organizations including the Portsmouth Hospital, Liberty Mutual, and Riverwoods Retirement community.  She also holds an MFA in theatre and brings thirty years of experience creating and directing theatre to teaching programs that are empowering, creative and engaging.  Learn more at Korabek Training.

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