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How easy do you find it to switch off when you leave work and make the most of your leisure time?

This is something that has always been a personal challenge.  Having spent my 20’s and early 30’s working in the world of finance and investment banking, my work became my life.  Of course, I had time off and fantastic holidays, but did I fully appreciate them?  To be honest, without the photographs I would barely remember them; my mind was usually elsewhere.

Today, thanks to my acting training, I have learnt to appreciate my leisure time a little more.  I was reminded of this earlier this week.

On Monday, I received an email with link to Catherine Erard’s radio programme ‘A vue d'esprit’ on RTS (www.rts.ch/mindfulness).  The programme was recorded during a session being delivered by Toby Cann, Director of Wellbeing at GEMS World Academy-Etoy, as part of the Mindfulness in Schools project, .be (dot-be), which stands for ‘Stop, Breathe and Be!’.

The thinking behind this is simple: in our lives we spend a lot of time reflecting on the past or worrying about what might happen in the future, so much so that we disconnect from the here and now.  Our minds are constantly buzzing with thoughts which prevent us from living in the moment.  This was certainly my case for many years.

When you train as an actor, you spend a lot of time getting acquainted with yourself: both mentally and physically.  It may sound strange but very often we lose sight of who we are because we are so fixed on becoming somebody else.  As an actor you need to understand who you are in order to be able to become somebody else.

Part of an actor’s job is to present to the audience a realistic portrayal of a character.  In order to do so, as in real life, you must be ready to react to the unexpected.  No two performances are ever the same.  It is only by being true to the character and living in the moment that the magic occurs.

In real life, the same is true.  If we are not living in the moment, life can just pass us by and we don’t even notice it.  Take, for example, your daily walk to work.  It’s part of your routine. You may walk for 30 minutes and afterwards have no recollection of what has been happening around you.  Why?  Because you are on autopilot – a type of mindlessness.   This is exactly when you need to ‘Stop, breathe and be’.  By replacing mindlessness with mindfulness we can optimise our experiences and start to really enjoy our leisure time.  

There are numerous techniques for relaxation and meditation which may help.  Once you find something that works for you, you will know it immediately.  Learning to focus on my breathing helped me combat my on-stage anxieties and relax into a role, which is essential for an actor.  Now when I encounter any such feelings as part of my daily life, I simply ‘Stop, breathe and be.’  Try it.  

If you’d like a basic introduction to meditation and mindfulness, this 10 minute a day programme may be of interest: www.getsomeheadspace.com/.  If you would prefer to attend a class, consult the Knowitall.ch calendars for details of mindfulness programmes currently running in your local area.

Author's bio


Dean Marriott was born in London and educated in the UK and Germany.  He retired from a career in finance, aged 33, and subsequently retrained as an actor and teacher.  From an early age, his passion for languages has underpinned both his professional and social lives.  In his quest for leisure activities, Dean keeps one key thought in mind: if Shakespeare’s words are true and ‘All the world's a stage’, we shouldn’t have to look far in order to be entertained.  We just have to make the time to appreciate it.  

If you are searching for an element of entertainment in your leisure pursuits and have a desire to look beyond the obvious, then Dean will use his artistic eye to point you in the right direction.  

Dean is currently the Director of the World Language Learning Centre at GEMS World Academy-Etoy, where he promotes the idea that language learning is about embodying a new language, not simply studying it.