"The soft animal of your body..."
This is part of a quote from Mary Oliver's poem, Wild Geese. It's a poem I often have my students read aloud when beginning the voice work. It's one of the touchstones for my own personal explorations in voice as it reminds me to be aware of the larger patterns of life . Wild Geese also suggests the value of being (performing, living life) from a "soft animal body" awareness.
What is "soft animal body" awareness?
By way of explanation, here are a few perceived benefits: my sensitivity to self and others is heightened. So, I will have greater understanding of how certain stimulus moves myself and others which aids in choosing to adjust behaviour depending on the desired result within a scene.
Another benefit is the reminder to be a sensual being. So much of living can lead us to move from a state of over-thinking, fear, and caution. Where feeling is a hinderance and numbness is desired. However, choosing to be numb is a definite hinderance to being an actor. A good actor has the ability to move an audience through their senses: sights, sounds, feelings, thoughts, and imaginations. And the more we are able to feel, the more affecting we can be to an audience. I often ask my students, "how can I expect to move an audience if I do not allow myself to be moved?".
Another benefit of Mary Oliver's poem, is the reminder to be gentle with myself and others in this trying, at times, process of life.