ON ACTING: Preparation; and Countering Avoidance
Let's say you conjure up a certain image, let's say of an old boy friend or girl friend who rejected you some time past, to fire up your emotional vulnerability to potential rejection in an upcoming love scene. Let's say the image begins to work. You are feeling personal sadness or loss, and suddenly your mind switches to another thought. Or you will say to yourself: "Great...now I'm all prepared;" or "That's not the best image I can find. Maybe I'll try to remember someone else;" or "I'm over that person. It's in the past," or...or....or...or.
Beware all the string of 'ors'! They are tools of avoidance, forms of actor self-deception. Your everyday mind is trying the help you escape the intensity of the preparation. Great for a modulated life; bad for intensely exciting acting.
Stay with the initial image. Use the 'avoidance' stimulus'/occurrence as a warning sign! Avoidance came to you because the image was a powerful part of your real or imaginative experience...and it has frightened you.
Counter it. Get even more intensely specific about the image you were trying to avoid. What was the sound of the voice of the past person who rejected you? Do you remember the day he/she dumped you? Do you remember how it felt? What particular part of the body was effected first? Second? What did you do? Say?
The emotion will become stronger...AND you will try to runaway again. Your mind with move on to other thoughts again. You will feel you have done enough. You will think of another experience.
Resist. Counter the avoidance once. And again and again.
And only when you are comfortable being deeply and uncomfortably sad or filled with loss; and, ironically, when you want stay with the image forever and continue to provide deeper and deeper feelings and details about the image...at that point your preparation is ended.
At that point fear of feeling the particular emotion you are preparing for will have been banished...and the preparation is truly over...and fully effective.
Enter the scene.
(NOTE: But enter the scene as the character...who will, like in everyday life, be trying like hell to win the scene and not be forced to feel the prepared emotion! But be confident that your desired emotion--the feeling of sadness and loss in this case--will be activated, in spite of your character's best efforts because you have prepared; that is, you have heightened your susceptibility to being made sad by the other person(s)!)