Focused Breathing
by Monalisa Arias

Monalisa Arias is an actress, musician, and fight choreographer. Washington appearances include Mother Courage with Arena Stage, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui with Catalyst Theatre Company, which received a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Ensemble. Other appearances include Marela in Ana in the Tropics, Fabia in The Knight from Olmedo at GALA Hispanic Theatre and Rosemary in Brainpeople with Rorschach Theatre.

She has also performed internationally in Panama (The Producers, Jesus Christ Superstar). Fight choreography credits include The Lord of the Flies with Round House Theatre, Picasso’s Closet with Theatre J and House of Spirits at GALA Hispanic Theatre. Monalisa received her training at The London Drama Academy, The College of William and Mary, and The Society of American Fight Directors, and The Center for Movement Theatre.

What is the one big tool that helps inspire me in my passions, through challenges and triumphs?

Focused Breathing.

The focused breath is the building block for all of my passions. It is the foundation for singing, playing guitar, acting, fight choreography, teaching and connecting with others.

I utilize the breath as the on button when entering rehearsal, the reset button when I tire or sense the energy of the actors in rehearsal waning, the cueing for fight moves, the communication with my band mates, the sustain through a long verse in a song or acting monologue and for relaxing my muscles right before a challenging passage on the guitar. The focused breath opens me up and brings me back to the now, to myself, to the divine. This is how I use the focused breath on an individual level.

On a group level the focused breath will instantaneously unify the group of people breathing together. For example, when a group of actors breathes together, connection occurs. Stillness. Openness. The willingness to be vulnerable and take risks. Trust and love. Sheer beauty. In a group the focused breath is a magical tool that is the key to unlocking each individual and the group as a whole.

Focused Breathing. It’s magical, readily available, and pretty easy to do. Give it a shot.