Interview: Natalie Lynn Roy on the Power of Meditation and Visualization
Actor Douglas Taurel Interviews Natalie Lynn Roy
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie Lynn Roy, co-founder of C.R.E.A.T.E., a workshop series designed to help artists break through their limiting beliefs. You can learn about Natalie at www.natalieroy.com and her twitter handle is @natalielynnroy.
Douglas Taurel: We’re with Natalie Roy and we’re going to be talking about meditation and visualization and on how to overcome being bitter in the business. It’s great to have another point of view on the subject that I so strongly believe in. When did you come to New York and when did you start acting?
Natalie Roy: I’m originally from Canada and I came to New York five years ago and I just had my five-year anniversary. I started acting later in life, it was not until college when I was studying Shakespeare and the history of theater that I really felt: “Oh, this is something that’s really interesting and that really calls to me.”.
Then like most actors, I ended up moving to Toronto. It was there that I really cultivated auditioning, going out for film and television, which really then became my passion.
Douglas Taurel: I know meditation’s a big thing for you, which is for me as well. How did you get there?
Natalie Roy: I basically had a boom in my career early on where things were going really well and I was having lots of auditions, and lots of opportunities. Then as it happens with actors, oftentimes our career looks like feast or famine. I started having a lull that lasted a really long time. I was about 26 years old and just feeling like, “I’m not living my dream. I’m not doing anything.” I was waitressing and I had that moment where a glass broke in my hand and it was like, “What am I doing with my life?” I stumbled into a yoga studio having never done yoga in my life. It was a space where I realized, “I can just be myself and there’s nothing to do. There’s nowhere to go. I’m just me. I’m going through my feelings and it’s all okay.”
Douglas Taurel: I remember when I first began meditating, my mind would just go to all of these weird spots but over time I became more disciplined and my thoughts began to slow down. And just slowing down, hearing your breath and your heart beat is so peaceful and helpful to your state of mind as an actor.
Natalie Roy: So helpful and just that awareness that I could just be with my feelings, my feelings were neither good or bad. Ultimately, this led me down a path of studying Yoga Sutras, studying the philosophy of yoga, and then I ended up going on a retreat in Joshua Tree.
Douglas Taurel: How specifically do you use visualization?
Natalie Roy: Specifically, I like to use a tool called Bhavana. This is actually a tool of writing it down as if it’s already happened. So, rather than me saying, “I am going to speak to Douglas Taurel later today” I will say, when I first wake up in the morning, ”I spoke to Douglas today, it went so great. I had a great time. The conversation was so easy and he was so easy to talk to.”
Douglas Taurel: Right, so Bhavana is acting as if it has already happened. I was introduced to a similar concept like Bhavana. I worked with Charles Poliquin, he’s a famous strength coach and martial artist. One of the things he would always share with us was that he believed we all should give thanks to what we want as if it’s already happened. Believe and have faith that it will happen and it will.
Natalie Roy: Exactly.
Douglas Taurel: I started applying this belief to my career three or four years ago when I created my solo show. I was having trouble finding a director I wanted so for a whole year I just kept going to bed repeating, “I’m so grateful that I found my director.” Long story short, I found an amazing director for my show. Padraic Lillis. I think this way of thinking is quite powerful. If you send positives energies out, they will bounce back.
Natalie Roy: Most of us look at the outside world and say, “There’s something missing inside that I’m going to use the outside world to validate or correct.”, “I’ll be happier when I have more money. I’ll feel better when I book this job.” But what happens is you get more money or you book the job you want and then you just want the next one. We are always looking for the outside world to fix or correct what is wrong or to make us happy when the answer is within us.
Douglas Taurel: Do you wake up every morning and think of something specifically or is it on a general whole message trying to connect to?
Natalie Roy: Every person is different but the general rule of thumb for creating a Bhavana for yourself, so that it is successful is that you want to be positive, concrete and specific about what you want.
Douglas Taurel: Can you give an example?
Natalie Roy: Sure. For example, I’m going to visualize how great going to the gym will be today. “I woke up and I had so much energy out of nowhere. It’s like I never felt better. Everyone was super nice to me. I got a free towel, I had the most amazing workout. It was like my lungs kept expanding and growing.”
Douglas Taurel: This is before you even went to the gym?
Natalie Roy: That’s right. Before I even go to the gym. You talk and visualize how you want your workout to feel and go. You expect it to go the way you visualize it.
Douglas Taurel: It’s a leap of faith. You’re having faith that it’s going to happen.
Natalie Roy: That’s right. Interesting that it feels easy for us to expect negative outcomes but really hard for us to think of positive expectations and outcomes.
Douglas Taurel: As Michael Jordan says “Thinking negatively is very normal. Thinking positively and believing in yourself is exceptional thinking.”
Natalie Roy: That’s exactly right.
Douglas Taurel: You have to practice exceptional thinking and not practice common thinking. I think negative thinking comes easy to us because that’s how we’re wired. It helps us survive.
Natalie Roy: Expecting and visualizing is extremely powerful for auditions and our careers. I do this for relationships I want to bring into my life. You can think exceptionally by visualizing your Oscar speech or the agent that you want to have for your career.
Douglas Taurel: How do you specifically do it? Let’s talk about the tactical ways you use it.
Natalie Roy: I tend to just sit on my couch. I make sure it’s the first thing I do. I make sure I don’t check my phone first, I don’t check my email first. First thing. When I get up. I notice my thoughts and I notice my breath.
I like to sit and have it be part of my daily meditation. I sit and I work to just be present. For me what feels comfortable, is just to watch the thoughts come and go without attachment. The way to think of it is like a fan is going really fast and then you turn the fan off. The fan will slowly start to slow down. That’s almost how I feel my mind is.
Douglas Taurel: When you meditate first thing in the morning, it really helps you to have focus and calmness throughout the whole day.
Natalie Roy: If the very first thing you do in the morning is to make someone else’s time more important than yours, like checking your phone, then every time you walk into an audition, you’re going to make that person in the room more important than you.
Douglas Taurel: Do you do it for ten minutes?
Natalie Roy: I’m at a point where I’m doing 20 but when I started it was three. Three minutes. I was like, “I don’t even have time for three minutes but I’m going to do it”. What we do every single day is what makes a difference in our lives. If you get in the practice of saying, “I am worth my own time for three minutes a day.” I guarantee you will be so much more present and grounded in the audition.
Douglas Taurel: You perform under conditions of stress, what you learned and practiced in training
Natalie Roy: Exactly right.
Douglas Taurel: I think it’s really hard for people to stay calm in the moment when they need to be calm, whether it be an audition, in a role, or a performance, whatever it might be. You have to practice how to stay focused and how to stay calm.
Natalie Roy: I think so many of us are so busy in this masculine energy and we’re do, do, do, do, doing, what it does is hides how insecure and unworthy and unconfident we feel in the doing. There’s this really powerful mantra that I say to myself all the time. “I am entitled to my actions but I am not entitled to the fruits of those actions.”. “I’m entitled to take action but I am not entitled to those actions leading to specific results because that’s me being in control”
Douglas Taurel: That’s a good way to put it, “Don’t focus on the results.” There is tremendous happiness and success to be found if we focus on the action we take in life and not worry about the results.
Natalie Roy: It’s like dealing with rejection, it’s something that actors made up. When you don’t get an audition you’re not actually being rejected. What is happening is you are being refused. Which is why the industry will put you on first right of refusal, not first right of rejection. They are not saying there’s something wrong with you. It’s not personal and we tend to make it too personal.
Douglas Taurel: I think a lot of times actors, especially young actors, they’re either euphoric because they got a role or they’re depressed because they haven’t got a role. Bouncing back and forth like that becomes just really chaotic and exhausting. This is where meditation and visualization can really help you.
How can an actor find a belonging-ness when they’re not working?
Natalie Roy: By always being part of some type of community. This is actually the reason that Kristin Hanggi and I made C.R.E.A.T.E. because C.R.E.A.T.E. is our community. It is so isolating and lonely if the only time you spend with actors is on Facebook or in an audition room or when you are competing against them. There’s no way that you can cultivate love for the journey if the only time you are spending with other artists is in a competitive way. Instead, we try to create a safe place for artists to come together and say, “We are all in this together.”
Actors can do this on their own by finding a community, creating a web series with their friends. Make work together so that you don’t have to worry about whether you’re on the inside or the outside of the industry because you’re building your own industry.
It’s about creating a value system. “How can I love myself every day? How can I decide to bring joy in my life? How I can visualize it and bring these things to me?. So as I grow as an artist, I become more seen, I become someone that people say, “Hey, I want to hang out with that person.”
Douglas Taurel: No one wants to choose to hang out with someone who’s negative. Naturally our instincts are to be attracted to people who are positive and are uplifting because they make us feel better and our subconscious wants and needs to hang around that.
Do you walk around on a continual basis talking positive to yourself?
Natalie Roy: Every time I hear that negative voice in my head, “Maybe you should do this” or “Maybe you should have done this instead” or then I know it’s just my ego and I know it’s not the true me.
Any time I hear that rumination in my head, I don’t try to change it, I don’t try to get rid of it, I just look at it and let it go. I know the true me is that silent voice that’s tells me, “Good job.”
Douglas Taurel: You acknowledge it.
Natalie Roy: I acknowledge it and I just let it be what it wants to be and I don’t play the game. It’s not going to win if I don’t engage.
Some days are going to be great days and some days are going to be bad days. Some days I believe in myself, some days I don’t. It’s not my job to even really have an opinion about that, I just show up and try to love myself and be compassionate.
Douglas Taurel: Can you describe the specific steps that you do right after a bad audition?
Natalie Roy: Yes. So, the first thing when I walk out of the room is, “Natalie, congratulations you just had an audition in New York City.” And then I make a point of not focusing about the things that I didn’t do well at that audition until I get clear and validate at least three things that I did well.
“I actually noticed the color of the shirt my reader was wearing, I said all my lines without forgetting any of them, I really felt the energy in the room.” Not what did I do wrong. Not what I messed up.
Also, before I go into my audition, I will focus on one thing. Whether I’m just going to show up and be very present with my reader or really and truly not try to control where the audition is going.
Douglas Taurel: Yes, Just focusing on the one task you want to accomplish in the audition is so key. When you try to focus on all the beats you wanted to hit, etc… you don’t listen and you lose all of your presence as an actor and you stay in your head.
Natalie Roy: That’s right. After you a few auditions you can change your focus and work on something else.
Douglas Taurel: Which helps you grow your discipline and focus as an actor.
Natalie Roy: Because you’re always auditioning for your next audition.
Douglas Taurel: As Tim Phillips say, one of my mentors, “You don’t audition for the job, you audition for your career.”
Natalie Roy: Right. I love that.
Douglas Taurel: Yeah. He would just say, because just the things that we know, the reason we didn’t get a job is from A to Z. They’re not rejecting you, they’re refusing you from this one project, but they’re going to call you back because the next project you may be right for and they need to develop a list of people they can continuously call back.
Natalie Roy: That’s right.
Douglas Taurel: You want to get on that list. That’s the goal is to get on that list.
What advice would you give for younger actors on realistic expectations coming into the business?
Natalie Roy: Same advice I’d give anybody. Have fun. Show up and create art. To remember that creating art in the world is healing and exciting and it offers something to the world that the world gets nowhere else.
If you get so attached to the future looking a certain way then I guarantee you, you are not going to enjoy it and have fun.
Douglas Taurel: What’s the biggest lie you see people tell themselves?
Natalie Roy: The biggest lie is that I’m not enough, self-doubt. And when I see people walk away knowing that the lie they believe is not true, it’s really exciting. We are able to see in each other what we can’t always see in ourselves.
Douglas Taurel: What advice would give about managing rejections?
Natalie Roy: That there actually is no such thing as rejection. You are always being redirected to something else. You are being redirected towards the right job. Every time you hear a “no” that’s ok. Now you know what the “no’s” are so you can get closer to the “yeses”.
Douglas Taurel: What would you tell an actor who tells you “You know I haven’t worked in a long time, I’m feeling really down on myself.”
Natalie Roy: I would say write me a list of your five favorite things to do that have nothing to do with acting and tell me how often you’re doing those things.
Douglas Taurel: So focusing on things that you want to do and make you happy?
Natalie Roy: Yes. What makes you happy? What makes you blissful? You’re telling stories about human beings who are not actors so you need to learn about all kinds of other things. Traveling is great and going out with friends is important. Find a community to be part. Live in the world.
Douglas Taurel: Enjoying being in the moment and letting the process be what it is and that your time will come. Meditating, visualizing and keeping that faith.
Natalie Roy: Yes, there’s so much. If I said to you, “Doug, nine months from today, you’re going to be a recurring on a TV show.” Then you would spend the next nine months, if you had zero auditions and you were sitting on your couch doing nothing, you would be so happy. You’d be like, “I’m going to be a recurring in nine months, I don’t care what happens.” So it’s only because we don’t trust that it is actually possible that we get fear in the moment. Being in the moment, showing up, doing your best and focusing on taking action.
I’m not focusing on nine months from now. I am going to visualize a positive future so the present feels more exciting. If you think your future is bleak, your present is not going to be any fun and your actions won’t be right.
Douglas Taurel: It’s almost like by believing it’s a square and each side feeds itself. By believing your career will be bright and trusting that it will, your actions become different. Because your actions become different, naturally you have different results and so it feeds into your belief again regarding having a bright future and career.
So, you keep believing and that keeps changing your actions, it changes the voice in your head, create natural, organic results, which feeds back into it your belief and faith. Without that leap of faith, you don’t get to go up that ladder.
Natalie Roy: That’s right. And, the leap of faith is born out of you having faith and belief in yourself. Because if you don’t love yourself you cannot expect the universe to love you for you.
Douglas Taurel: Now I just have some really fun questions. Books that have dramatically influenced you?
Natalie Roy: The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer is my favorite book I’ve ever read. I’ve read it so many times. I should get royalties on this book because I’ve recommended it to so many people.
Douglas Taurel: Advice that you would give your twenty-year-old self? And advice you give yourself ten years from now.
Natalie Roy: My twenty-year-old self I would say, “Relax and enjoy.” And ten years from now, I would say, “Good job.”
Douglas Taurel: If you put one thing on a billboard, anywhere for actors to see and read, what would it be?
Natalie Roy: You are enough.
Follow Douglas on Twitter: @DouglasTaurel