I believe that maybe the most important goal of a person on this planet is to find the light inside him and then help others find their own light. Natalia, in my humble opinion, is one of these people. Her responsibility, her ethos and her love for life is only a few of the qualities that come to my mind when I think of her, and of course, all these written inside her beautiful, warm eyes and the true hugs that give you when she sees you. No recommendations needed, she is well known for her artistic work, read what she told us:
Marianna: Hello Natalia, I am really happy that I am here with you!
Μ: Would you like you to tell me how your relationship with yoga and meditation started;
Ν: My relationship with what we call in general these days spirituality started when I was really young, without knowing that this is called spirituality. Meaning, because one of my main characteristics is an uneasiness for things, I was on searching very young, I remember myself already when I was 12 searching in general, I was asking questions to my teachers for religion subjects, spiritual subjects, I was always doubting, on these subjects. I had joined some companies that were dealing with metaphysics and we also did some “experiments”! We had read various books, like those who wrote the “father of Parapsychology” A. Tanagras, about the realization of spirit! Teenage searches… I was searching around in general, I had read about Buddhism at my 18, I had this appeal without being taught by someone. My father was dealing with these things a little bit, so maybe this was an influence, but not a big one, mostly genes I would say.
Evolving myself. I always believed that the things that are invisible are much more interesting than the visible, from the things we can see, the hidden side of ourself, the invisble side of a person in general but also in nature the things that are not visible immediately but we eavesdrop, we feel. I always had an appeal on this things, that’s maybe the reason for my artistic nature.
As I was evolving and growing these things started on taking a shape, with books, with many things and when I a was in a phase of a serious depression that lasted for 3 years, I had an experience very revealing, because this was a really unpleasant period of my life…
Μ: I would like to say here that usually people that are in search of these things and have the need to go a little bit further, usually they go through a difficult phase.
Ν: That’s what I also think.
Μ: We say in yoga: “No mud, no lotus.”
Ν: Exactly, you have to go deep, maybe touch the bottom so you can find a way to go up again. And I remember myself at nights with insomnia and deep depression, seeing the dawn one morning, at Sifnos island, and after I would say a despaired scream of me, that came from really deep inside me, it was like a veil left that was covering everything and I saw clearly. Meaning, as I was seating at the balcony and there was the sea in front of me and the mountains on the left, it was like a film of dust left and everything shined bright in front of me. I saw the mountain top, I saw the sky, I saw the trees as I had never seen them again. Like I saw them for the first time. Everything was shining, clearly, and I thought that if I moved a little bit I could reach them. This was a big reveal for me, like I was seeing life for the first time, this kind of feeling. So, since then the countdown started for me to get out of the depression phase, and I will never forget this experience. Anyone could explain this experience in many ways, for me it drove me to different paths, to see life clearly outside and inside me.
Μ: So, this was one of the most important moments for you, one of the most spiritual experiences that changed your life?
Μ: And from then have you established any practices, do you do something daily like yoga, meditation?
Ν: Yes, I am meditating from a very young age, maybe 20, I don’t know, I started with mind-control, and then I started slowly to meditate and haven’t practiced yoga until very recently that I met a really good teacher…(laughs) that is called Marianna Thimiaki. So, and in a beautiful way these were combined, meaning that besides usual exercise comes first and then the spiritual aspect, for me asana, the physical part was placed on what I already knew and it was like it balanced.
Μ: Yes, I would like to say at this point, that I am your teacher in asana, because on the meditation aspect you were advanced, so I can’t say who is more advanced from the other and if I can be considered as your teacher, I came at the asana, at your physical body.
N: We do them together!!
Μ: Do you find common things between theater and yoga and meditation?
N: I believe that you can’t deal with art if you don’t pass through these paths, art itself is a type of meditation. In what meaning, in the time of the performance, group meditation is happening without us understanding it. Meaning what? We all are in a form of meditation when the performance succeeds, when there are created moments of art when art happens, equals poetry. So, when art is created, that is our request, it doesn’t mean that we manage it every night, our request is when art is created, even for a few moments at the performance, what is happening or we would want to happen is a meditation. This is, the actor and the audience are here and now, without thinking about anything else.
Space is abolished, time is abolished, and everybody converge on what is happening on the stage this exact moment. There is nothing that bothers the mind, there are no other thoughts and we breathe all together at this moment in something that is common. What I am saying now is the big request, it is not self-explanotary, nor easy. It must start from the actor, meaning the actor must stares. What happens on stage must be so deep and essential, so it goes back to the audience, and the audience to accept, το let itself on what the artist proposes, that is forget everything and be in here and now.
Μ: Besides that, working with you I have also realized some things about art that I didn’t know and I would like the people to hear them, that is that the actor has to work on himself, and the difficult layers of himself, in order maybe to become a good actor. Correct me if I am wrong, that he has to come inside in order to be able to go outside.
Ν: Look, art is a journey, there isn’t a chance for an artist not to have felt pain, not have suffered, not have searched inside him, not have discovered his cracks, his wicked spots, his defects, to have accepted them, so he can come up on the stage and say something, otherwise why he should come up on stage? To show that he is handsome? There is no reason for his presence up there. So, definitely he has to have done a journey inside.
And he is doing what? This is the amazing thing with art, that’s why they say that the artist is late at getting older, every year he presents on stage his journey, he shows us at which point of his personal journey he is. How much he gained, how much he improved, what he conquered and this is something that maybe the audience don’t know how to say it with words, and of course it doesn’t know, it is not it’s a concern, and it shouldn’t be, but it feels it. This means that it feels that it has in front of it an artist that has made a journey, and it has something to take from him, these are things that words can’t describe. So yes, it is a deeply personal, esoteric journey, you can’t keep doing it otherwise and continue to evolve in this job.
M: I am also aware that you are an acting teacher, are you using any of these techniques-practices in order to help the upcoming actors?
Ν: Yes, I teach a class a little bit different as far as I know from other acting teachers, meaning I don’t insist so much on the “scenes” and the “roles”, but mostly in the actor to discover exactly what we are saying, what he has to say with himself, so he can take it out to the world. What journey he has done inside him, how much he has understood, why he is doing what he is doing, all these questions that are a lot and very important, I set them in front of the kids. Definitely because the era we are living is not helping to this direction, exactly the opposite, we mainly live in this country, of course in general, but mainly in this country, an atmosphere of anger, violence, a chaotic situation, it is a really bad atmosphere for young people. They have nowhere to place their dreams, their thoughts, their ideas, not to tell you that they start without a goal, that is I ask a lot of kids, why are you in the school, and they don’t know what to answer.
Unfortunately, they haven’t made a conversation with themselves, so what I try is, at the time the lesson starts, to exclude from the class any “noise” there is outside the class, any negative thoughts, all this violence I was telling you about, because I teach in Exarchia, and literally and metaphorically meaning the violence, the anger, all these negative situations.
We do an exercise in a circle, where they are all coordinated at some moves, that if they don’t concentrate if their mind is not focused and they don’t do a form of meditation, they can’t do them. It is a necessary start for the class before they start playing the scenes, to act any role, they have to converge all together to a specific energy. That is, each one of them to connect to his core, to concentrate inside him, at his center, and then all together at the center of the circle. So, they do an exercise each one of them with harmony and breathing, trying to be as harmonious the movement it can be, I can’t show it now, and there is no meaning, but the goal is this, to leave everything outside and focus on what they have to do. Because when the artist comes up on the stage, he can’t carry anything with him, and they have to practice that.
Μ: Because I know you personally, I know that you are really responsible person and with ethos, I would like to ask if these practices and spirituality have helped to your journey and if you believe, because of the crisis that we live in our planet if you believe that spirituality can help this situation to change?
Ν: I believe that this is a one-way road, that without spirituality we won’t manage. I have the impression that our planet is in a very difficult historical moment. It is a fact, it doesn’t mean that because we don’t have a global war, that we are not in a war that concerns more our human nature, this another kind of war. That demands us to find a spiritual journey. If we don’t find it we will start killing each other.
It is absolutely necesairy at this moment, mostly the Western civilization to turn inside, to find who he is, what he wants, which is the purpose of his birth, questions that once were luxury, but they are absolutely necessairy, to find what we do on Earth, why we are here and which are our responsibilities, to ourself, to the fellow man and to society in general.
And not to be in a hurry to create families if we haven’t solved these problems, these are really basic issues. I find people around me, that I discuss every day, that they are angry, they get sick internally, intestines, stomach, cancer and young people, unfortunately. This is something we see for the first time, we will need years to analyze it, to say what we have been through at the time we live now, but if we don’t find this journey to inside, to ease our inside, to be friends with our inside, to find peace, to accept ourself as it is, so on our fellow man, and not be all the time in conflict with our neighbors, like all our issues it’s his fault, I don’t see hope for tomorrow. I don’t know how the next day will come, it is a mandatory journey.
There is anger on the road, at the cars, at the traffic lights, the pedestrians are crossing the road with panic in their eyes, will they leave us now to cross the road with the green light, or he will violate the red light and kill us? Will a motorbike climb the pavement? Will we be able to go safely to our work? Instantly they yell, they curse. All this stored anger that lives inside us, that starts from our homes of course, and from lack of education and all these things, has to go somewhere, and unfortunately because we are taught to wait for everything from others, parents, teachers, leaders, etc finally it is a mistake.
We have to find them inside us, this is what our times ask for, each one of us to find inside him his support, to look deep inside, we don’t have another choice.
Μ: You are married, you have a beautiful daughter, and except all this, you are a great actress and a person that has made a lot of work with yourself. Is there a secret, that you have balanced all these, and you have done them “well”?
Ν: Look, there is no secret, I don’t think that I do something more than other people, at least we try on this..
Μ: There is a crisis on relationships, that’s why I am saying this, I mean young people face difficulties with their personal relationships..
Ν: Yes, I am telling you again what I told you before, that if you don’t find the relationship with yourself, you won’t find it with the other, and the best relationships are created especially when the woman is ready to realize who is the best partner for her. So, I think that young people should search for this, ok besides the temporary relationships and all these easy things, to look inside them so they can make an important relationship, and not to rush to create a family.
But I come back to what you asked me before, what I do in my daily routine. I just try every day, not to start my day if I don’t do something for myself. Either this is some positive thoughts, or some breaths if I don’t have time or some simple movements with my body, that is to come to my center, I need to give some time, 15 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes, before my day starts, to myself. I will go out to the street with less anger, with fewer nerves, with less violence, with more understanding for my fellow man, I don’t think that this is so hard for each one of us to do it, or at least to start trying, and then he can go as far he wants and as far he can.
Μ: It is these filters that I say, that help you filter things a little bit before you go out in the street, to create some space so you can see things more clearly.
Μ: So, there is a performance coming, that we can’t wait to see it, Natalia. Would you like to tell me some things?
Ν: We are starting at theater Ilisia, at the 11th of December a performance that is called “6 dance classes in 6 weeks” from Richard Alfieri, it is a play that has made a worldwide success wherever it has been presented for many years, we will play in alternative repertoire with “The price” that it is played now at Ilisia. The days will be Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday for now, on holidays we will add some more days, and from a certain point, we will play for the whole week. I am leading with Dimosthenis Papadopoulos, my colleague, that he is also directing the play and I think that will be a really tender, warm and human work.
Check here for more information about the performance:
Μ: Thank u so much for your time.
Ν: Thank u!