Clarissa Hoffmann is a german actress who lives in Los Angeles. More than the acting career, Clarissa is an explorer who has been exploring the world and herself! I met this inspiring woman when she visited Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai, Thailand. We immediately connected and we became close friends. Clarissa supported me in a time of transition and change and she shared with me a lot of her wellness practices. She is a powerful woman who has a strong life vision and radiates her light in those whose lives she comes across. Clarissa also has a blog where she has been sharing her path. You can find it in this link!
In this inspiring interview, Clarissa shares with us her wellness routines, her mindset habits, her philosophy on life, her path and her journey in Asia.
1 – Can you tell us a little bit about your path?
Sure. After having studied tourism and business administration in Germany and Spain, spending almost a year in Chile for language studies and work, I chose to take a different path, a path related to my secret passion: acting. That was 7 years ago and it took me from Munich to New York City (where I trained and worked for 3 years) to Los Angeles where I’m based right now.
2 – How come Acting School changed your life and why would you recommend it to everybody?
Acting school is a school of life. It’s transformative. You leave it as a new person. You get the chance to explore yourself and others in ways you can’t imagine. To create characters you learn what makes a human being really tick. At the same time it allows you to have a look at yourself and see what has shaped/conditioned you the way you are now. And then you learn to become this other character. You develop a very flexible mind which is very aware of what’s going on inside and outside. At the same time you train your body and voice as well. So at the end you gain the control over who you want to be. On stage or in film. But I’m interested in using this technique for my real life as well.
3 – So the philosophy behind it is that we can all take control in our thoughts and therefore in our emotions. What special techniques and/or habits would you recommend to incorporate in the everyday life to be able to cope with attaining a more peaceful state of being and control of the emotions we wish to feel or emphasise?
Well, meditation is the first thing I’d suggest. It allows you to become fully aware of what thoughts are running through your head, so eventually you can decide for yourself if you want to identify yourself with those thoughts or not. I believe that every emotion is caused by a thought. So if you are in control of your thoughts you are in control of your emotions. A lot of our thoughts are related to our past or our future. And that are the ones which are causing most of the negative emotions we’re experiencing. If you can practice accepting your past as it was/is and being grateful for your lessons from it, you can gain emotional freedom.
In general practicing the feeling of gratitude is one of the best things I’ve come across. You can do it with a gratitude journal in the morning before you start your day.
Another technique I use is setting intentions – about what kind of person you want to be. Starting with an intention about your life goal, you can defer intentions for the next 3-5 years, 1 year, next months, and also daily ones. Reminding yourself every day of what person you want to be and what kind of day you want to have can change your life.
What’s also very effective is not turning on your phone until you’re done with your morning routine. Many people wake up in the morning and the first thing is, they turn on their phones. In that case they are immediately bombarded by the outside world and might get stressed, overwhelmed, and respond without being mindful of their reactions. Whereas getting yourself in a peaceful mental state first and then turning on the phone allows you to have control over your reactions and you won’t feel affected by the things coming at you. You have the power over your mental state.
4 – Tell us a little bit about your trip: where have you been, how long, why did you decide to travel.
End of last year I realized I needed to take a break from acting. Over the past 7 years I was going a hundred percent in, so I felt like shifting my focus for a bit. And suddenly I remembered an old dream of mine – doing a backpacking trip in Asia all by myself. I wanted to go to a lush jungle, being totally immersed in nature. Basically as a contrast to having to deal with social media everyday and being available all the time for auditions and acting jobs. At the same time I wanted to get into this flow state again and see what the universe will come up with when I just follow my excitement.
So the only things I booked beforehand was my flight to Bali and my first two nights in a guesthouse in Ubud. From there I decided everything very spontaneously. And the amazing adventure began! I ended up volunteering at the Bali Spirit Festival, scootering around the Balinese jungle and to the paradise beaches on the Gili Islands. Then I took a cheap flight to Singapur, where I explored the rooftops of Marina Bay Sands and along the harbor (rooftops are another passion of mine besides jungles). Next stop was Borneo for a jungle safari along the Kinabatangan river which reminded me of the amazon. I saw several kinds of monkeys, Orangutans, a lot of birds and mosquitos. It was fascinating. Afterwards I went to Vietnam to explore Halong Bay and its hundreds of islands, and continued exploring the very North on a motorbike for several days. That was unbelievably beautiful. After that I challenged myself at the Kung Fu retreat in north Thailand for two weeks and finished my Asia trip in Nepal with an one week stay at a Buddhist monastery learning about „Cultivating the good heart”.
5 – How was your experience at Nam Yang Kung Fu Retreat in Pai?
It was amazing. I had this idea of doing a martial arts bootcamp a while ago inspired by the Kill Bill film. When I saw Uma Thurman in her role being trained by this old master I knew I wanted to experience something like this as well.
I am very interested in the mind-body connection. How far can I go with my body, now that my mind is quite trained thanks to acting and meditation.
Doing martial arts makes me feel powerful. I love this feeling, being strong and full of energy, and people have mentioned this word „powerful“ quite often in terms of my acting performances, voice work, and other activities I’ve been doing. I guess it comes from having lived a very quiet, shy, timid, „powerless“ life before, when I was younger, so I have to catch up with it. Lol.
The Kung Fu training at Nam Yang was better than I could have ever imagined. I had so much fun. Even though it was a demanding training schedule of 7-9 hours each day, there were enough breaks to rest, good and healthy food to fuel my energy and several things which inspired me to stay on top of the game. Especially training with people from all around the world, every kind of age and background was quite motivating. Apart from that I would use the breaks to explore the surroundings on my scooter, have a healthy smoothie in the artsy town Pai nearby, swim in a waterfall or relax in a hot spring. And the setting was phenomenal. Starting at 6 am in the morning with Chi Kung at the open air training area, blessed with a stunning mountain view and watching the sunrise – magical.
6 – How was your experience at the Buddhist Monastery doing the Meditation Retreat in Nepal?
Very interesting. I love exploring different ways of living and testing myself in different environments. So the monastery had been in my mind for several years and finally I got the chance to experience it. Everything was very simple there. I would get up at 6.30 am, go to meditation, have breakfast, class, lunch, class, dinner, meditation, sleep. No phones and laptops allowed as well as talking between dinner and lunch the following day. It was great. We talked about achieving happiness, enlightenment, emptiness, compassion, love, karma and reincarnation, suffering, benefitting other people, self care and selfishness. At the end I could leave this place with the confirmation of my theories about living a happy and fulfilling life true to my values.
7 – Can you tell us a little bit more about the happiness theory and how to effectively manage our emotions?
I’m still in the process of figuring out the most important key points I have passed to be able to get to this amazing state of mind I’m in right now. I’ll try my best to break it down for you.
First of all it’s very important to become aware of your thoughts as I have mentioned it above. Thoughts trigger emotions, so when you can control your thoughts you can control your emotions. You can learn that by doing meditation and mindfulness.
The next step might be letting go of your past, your story, you’ve been telling yourself about yourself all those years. Accepting whatever happened, being grateful for the lessons and looking forward to an amazing future ahead. Basically freeing yourself from all emotional attachments towards things, events, people (positive or negative relationships), labelings/images of yourself, and so on. There are different ways to do that.
Then I would recommend doing a loving kindness meditation, which the Buddhists use as well in their Bodhicitta to generate a feeling of compassion and love for every human being, no matter if they are good to you or bad. If a person reacts to you in a way you dislike, it upsets you for example, it’s your choice to be upset about it. You can also just chose to not react to it. You can come from a point of understanding them (creating compassion for them) and accepting that they are like that because of certain experiences they had had in their life and opt to react in a kind way or not reacting at all. When you judge other people, you always judge a part in yourself as well. Mostly you have a conflict with this quality the other person is showing you, so you react in an upset way towards it. Have a look at this side in yourself and find out why you try to hide this side of yours. As soon as you accept this side in yourself, you accept the other person too and you’ll feel better or even in peace with yourself and the other person.
From there you can practice a feeling of love for the other person and you’ll see you’ll love yourself more as well.
And eventually there’s another very powerful exercise developed by Erich Körbler. It’s basically using affirmations with water and symbols. You decide what kind of person you want to become, or what kind of things you want to have changed in your life, you write it down on a piece of paper with a specific symbol, then you take a glass of water and read the sentences 3 minutes and take a sip at the end. It has done miracles for me. I started using this exercise when I was 17 and it has helped me through very challenging moments of my life.
8 – What are the main habits that people usually have that make them fall short in the route to happiness? How can people improve that?
Comparing themselves to others and seeing the negative things about themselves instead of supporting and loving others. Having a negative perspective on life and being too lazy to work on it. It’s all about your mindset and making the decision to live a happy life. And you can do that right now. This moment. Take a breath and decide. That’s it.
9 – Can you share with us your wellness routines both physically and mental?
Of course. Over the years I have developed a certain morning routine which helps me to set my mind and body for the day to stay in control of my thoughts, emotions, reactions and physical fitness. I wake up, drink 2 glasses of water with fresh lemon juice, don’t turn on my phone until breakfast, journal for 6 minutes about what’s going on in my head, do my 20 minute meditation, do my powerful Chi Kung and Kung Fu stretching routine for ca 30 minutes, take a shower with fun music, write my gratitude journal and set my intentions for the day, and finally have a healthy breakfast (no gluten nor dairy). After that the day can begin and fulfill the purpose I gave it. At the same time I follow a healthy diet, without gluten, dairy and very few alcohol, go to the gym in the late afternoons to work on my posture (which made a huge difference for me as well) and cardio, and remind myself of being present, grateful for whatever is happening and nurturing the loving kind feeling towards people until it becomes automatic.
10 – What last words would you like to share with Skin at Heart’s readers?
When I was young, I felt very anxious, nervous and insecure, I was concerned a lot about other people think of me. I was shy, timid and very quiet. When I tell people about my old self nowadays, they don’t believe me. They apparently see me as a strong, confident and positive woman. That’s what I always wanted to achieve when I was younger. And I can say it’s possible. It’s all up to what thoughts you believe in.
Skin at Heart is grateful to Clarissa for this wonderful interview.
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