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"Naked on the Stage" - Do Anxious Dreams Come True?

Updated on September 9, 2012

Heart and Mind SERIES

As a teenager, I was cast in the role of "Peter" in the play the Diary of Anne Frank. My father was the Director, but everyone said I was well cast. I ended up winning a special award for it, but at the time, I was a 17 year old kid with a constant state of worry and a building crazy recurring dream.

Getting ready for a theatrical performance, four nights a week for several weeks, is a continual challenge for the mind. You have to stop worrying about "going up" - forgetting your lines. You reahearse endlessly. When you rehearse, your mind often goes blank. You laugh with your fellow actor, you giggle, you get red and embarrassed, you close your eyes and start saying: "What if this happens to me in front of hundreds of people in a live performance?"

Some don't worry like others. But ALL actors worry about "going up". Its like a carpenter saying he never thinks about crushing his thumb with his hammer. My mother would constantly counsel me that nerves are good because they have a way of electrifying your performance. She said, "Don't get anxious about being nervous."

A Doorknob in my Hand -

Anne and Peter have a love scene in her bed room. It's not really a love scene, but it is their first close scene together in which they share private conversation. It is one of Peter's big scenes. So, yes I was nervous, but I was telling myself "not to be anxious about being nervous".

Anne storms into her bedroom and slams the door because she has had a fight with the Van Damms, the couple living with the Franks in the attic of their Dutch hideout. Peter follows her in because he wants to comfort her. Well, I stood up and walked toward her door.

As I stood at the door, the lights change, and the focus in on her bedroom. I was feeling very good about my lines, and was doing well with my nervousness, but I was still filled with excess negative energy. Then it happened. The door would not open. I jiggled the door knob, and pulled. The audience went hushed, then laughed nervously. I pulled again on the door and it would not open. The stage scenery door was just plain stuck. I pulled one more time. The door knob came off in my hand. I pulled it up to my face and just stared at it.

The audience was chuckling. Anne was hiding laughter. I turned to the audience and held the door knob up in my hand and shrugged my shoulders. I went down stage, walked to the foot of the stage, made a hard right and walked right into Anne's room.

This got me applause and laughter and appreciation. I went quickly back into character and read my lines in character. What that did was teach me something. "In life, sometimes its hard to know what to really worry about." And in this case, I could not have anticipated this, and thus, I could not have worried about it. Forgetting your lines is something that you can foresee happening, so humanly you tend to worry about it. But then, after awhile, you realize you are either going to let your FEARS have your ENERGY, or you are going to LET GO and let your energy flow and "let the Devil take the hindmost".

The Birth of Anxiety - "What play is this, what are my lines and why am I without clothes? -

As the years have gone by, a recurring dream has put me on a stage in which I do not know the play, the author, who the actors are and what my role is, but there I am standing on the stage looking around without clothes with a completely blank look. I am not the only one to have this dream, but I think there is something about the theatrical life that engenders this kind of dream. But it does not have to refer to the theatre, or acting.

Getting ready for anything that requires lots of preparation can put you in an anxious state. Throw in stress, poor diet, bad habits, sleeplessness and neurotransmitters that are depleted or overtaxed and you can have a continuing state of anxiety and fear.

Deepak Chopra has an excellent line, and he is so quotable: "We do not fear what is going to happen to us, we fear what has already happened to us." When you can get perspective on your life. As years go by, you tend to give events proper weight.

My son-in-law-to-be just went through a very challenging test which he passed with flying colors and won a tremendous award. He is young, but now his memory has something to comfort him. He knows he has gone throught this challenge and he can now "chalk it up" as a victory. When he remembers this experience, he will probably remember the anticipation and also the victory. The survival instinct probably predicts that his head will embrace the anticipation longer than the victory. Its what we are like as a species.

"Success annuls Enjoyment" -

The way we work is that time tends to dissipate the smell of victory and it tends to log and remember those things that could hurt us. This mechanism kept us alive in our evolutionary past, and it tends to make us keep on performing at the top of our game. You can see why it works like this, but it behooves us to get CONSCIOUS about the way our heads work. If you are a high achiever and strongly energetic and desperately want to do well, you will probably give yourself a "rough time" about worrying about, becoming anxious, and overpreparing for a CHALLENGE.

When DREAMS devlelop that tend to have these haunting unrelenting characteristics, observe it. Laugh at it. Understand it. Get perspective. "Its only a dream" is a phrase that has a meaning because a dream is often an acknowledgement of a fear lodged inside you.

"OK Chris, you're naked, so what are you going to do?" -

Think of your marvelous brain as having its own sense of humor. It is as if, the brain is saying, "OK, let's take your fear as far as it will go --- so now are you going to die?" These kinds of dreams are as worthy of laughter as much as tears. Most of our fears and anxieties probably need to have the use of our dream language and dream symbolism as an aid to our own private therapy.

It is a long surveyed and studied subject: Most of our fears and anxieties never come true, and most of all, not in the way or to the degree we envision them. Does that make you feel better? It should, but for the chronically anxious, it somehow does not.

"I get anxious in the presence of wall-to-wall carpeting." -

A friend of mine once said the above in jest, laughing at what he called his chronic nervousness. I told him that he should try a look at his diet and perhaps take an orthomolecular approach. I learned that GABA, an amino acid had a very strong calming effect. Some people just don't eat early in the day. I told him, "Start the day with two eggs, some omega 3 tablets and your mind will be fed for the morning with the amino acids and calming fatty acids that your brain needs.

"You mean starting the day with 4 coffees might hurt me in the long run?" He had a great sense of humor, but he was disguising what he was actually deeply concerned about.

A good book about Serotonin, and how to encourage its presence in your body would be a great idea for those who feel disquieted and depressed on a chronic basis. These are not easy questions to deal with, because the medical community has developed a whole set of drugs called serotonin reuptake inhibitors. These drugs stop the brain from taking up serotonin back out of the brain. I am not interested in recommending those drugs because there is a world of information about them. I am concerned that people's dietary approaches, health habits and spiritual attitudes could lift them above anxious tendencies and depressive moods if they would tackle their lives in a holistic and totalistic way.

Mania Demographics

Ironically, anxiety and apprehension can make for superior performances. Sometimes, when you go to a cast party, you will see assembled "theatrical temperaments" which when they are all assembled in a few rooms with inebriating fluids and stimulating company, you can think that all theatre people are "manic depressive". Patty Duke's books and multiple Hollywood biographies will attest to the "bi-polar" way many people in that world live their lives. But what these examples tell us is not that certain types are somehow genetically stuck with some kind of clinical state, it really tells us that lifestyle and termperament sometimes have a magnetic quality and generate their own results.

Since my family is among those types, I would say in a qualified way that the demographics seem to go in that direction, however when you know people one-on-one, you realize that perhaps it is the theatre itself that tends to cause high energy stressful states and processes to rule the day. However, since we are talking about anxious dreams and chonic worry and bouts with exhaustion and depression, it might behoove us to realize that LIFESTYLE has much to do with our problems. Leave the theatre out of it. These days many peoples ways of living are extremely "theatrical" and "demanding". Peak performance and nervous preparation for the days challenges are in many careers and jobs. Look at it from your own personal perspective and your life's particular challenges. Get your anxiety and fear in a frame work.

Sure you can have wild recurring dreams, and sure bouts of anxiety can plague us. But the modern challenge is to organize our lives in conscious ways that address DIET, SLEEP, EXERCISE, ALONE TIME, FRIEND AND LOVE TIME, FAMILY TIME and MEDITATIVE REST TIME.

Adrenal Insufficiency - A Term to Think About -

Adrenal Insufficiency is a medical term that probably applies very narrowly to a few people. In the minds of the medical community this is a rare problem. In the eyes of the orthomolecular, holistic community, this is a phrase that broadly embraces the idea that our lifestyles are wearing out our adrenal glands. Those who are constantly dieting or starving themselves, then consuming copious amounts of alcohol and missing sleep and having poor quality sleep, then have incredibly demanding work lives can end up with systems that are out of balance. The body produces cortisone and adrenaline and epinephrine and a host of other adrenal hormones and substances which the body needs on an hourly basis. When you awake with a sinking feeling of listlessness and fear and a 'what's the use" quality, you could be just suffering from your ENTIRE LIFESTYLE, and what some practitioners would call adrenal insufficiency brought on by stress.

The answers are manifold, but not overly complicated. The key is to address yourself in your totality, not in your compartments. Suffering and Pain are intended by nature to show you the way back to yourself and peace and stability. Anxiety and Fear are normal manifestations of a life as a human. Being enslaved by unrelenting anxious moods and fearful obsessions is another matter. The dream of being on the stage is now, at this time in my life, a dream that is reminiscent of my life's past. If I ever get on stage again, perhaps it will rear its head more again. But I will not salute it. I will not genuflect or tremble before it. I will probably laugh at it. Finally, I want you to think about a biological trap that we can tend to fall into.

One Warning -

Because we are a hardy species, our evolutionary past has provided a response that used to get us from one watering hole to the next -- from one piece of hunted game to the next. Cortisol squirts into your system when you skip meals and thus, put yourself in a stressful state. Cortisol gives you a high. It kills your appetite and begins digesting amino acids and carbohydrates and fats in your system so you don't get hungry. (It also has several other manifestations to be discussed later.) This ironically is what encourages psychological anorectics to continue their behavior. If you are not an anorectic, it still holds true that cortisol will make you feel very good while you skip meals.

This unique response is what makes people skip breakfast and other meals. Many would say that this is good. It keeps the weight off. Aha. In our modern weight-obsessed society, this is an assumption that is wrong. Cortisol puts you in a state, not where you lose weight, but rather it is there to keep weight on while you starve yourself. ITS DESIGN AND INTENT IS TO PRESERVE YOUR BODY WHILE YOU MAKE YOUR WAY TO THE MEAT OF THE NEXT DEAD WATER BUFFALO ACROSS THE DESERT, SO YOU WON'T DROP DEAD AND EXPIRE ALONG THE WAY.

This is an irony. Its a head and body fooler. People go through decades of life unnecessarily entering into this biochemica/hormonal process, not because they are trying to make it across the desert to survive and fight another day -- they are doing it to LOSE WEIGHT, and not bother themselves with BREAKFAST, because their life is so harried.

It works. It feels good to skip meals, but in the end. In the long run, it hurts you systemically in many manifold ways. This is a topic I will deal with in another blog. But I throw out this WARNING to allow you to think about this natural irony. Its really not so ironic, BUT in light of what we are intending, it is somehow quite ironic. Its roots are from our history when we were starving alll the time. In its modern manifestation, we are not starving at all, but we bring starvation upon ourselves for differing reasons that have nothing to do with 100,000 years ago. So what was originally a wonderful positive manifestation of our bodies accommodation of the stress of survival is now essentially a destructive process that used over the long term just hurts us.

This daily kind of stress, a basic kind of stress on your body can lead to chronic metabolic, neurological and behavioral manifestations that have to do with blood sugar, insulin resistance, neurotransmitters and nutrition and malnutrition.

There are reasons that you might be suffering and you wish you could mitigate this suffering. Bring a conscious approach to the totality of your life and you might find yourself solving and getting in control of not only your anxieties and fears but also harnessing your potential through sounder sleep, great energy and positive restful joy. Don't think in terms of banishing anxiety and fear, think in terms of getting a stronger control of your total life. Check out Christofer's new website at:


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