nora byrne


thoughts & feelings

Activities for Sitting Still


As I meet people in Portland, and now have the steady work and confidence to identify myself as an art model, I'm engaging in many more conversations about the work. Beyond the quintessential "Are you naked?," the artistic community here lends itself to some more meaningful conversations about what it's like to model for artists. One of the most common questions is: What do you do?

Just thinking about investing my millions...
Just thinking about investing my millions...

This doesn't sound profound, and it really isn't, but I find it interesting to talk about all the same. In short poses I often plan my next move or even count the time instead of using a timer. In longer poses I need other ways to occupy my brain. I think about what to write on here, whatever problems I'm facing in life, all sorts of things. Most often I keep myself occupied daydreaming. One night I managed to plan out my entire course of action if I were to win the lottery (first move: freedom from Sallie Mae). I've had entire imagined conversations with all sorts of people while trying to ignore my foot falling asleep.

This brings me to the idea of meditation, which is starting to factor more highly in my list of modeling activities. I got a piece of advice once, from a man who said he'd heard that the best way to deal with an itch was to meditate on it. It will either get better, he said, stay the same, or get worse. Strangely enough I tried it, and it's an interesting experience to see how meditation can affect the body. When I meditate on an itch I've found it usually does go away; most reasonable annoyances I can deal with without having to move a muscle. By reasonable annoyances I don't mean anything that could actually cause bodily harm - meditating on the space heater's proximity to my leg never stopped it from turning red, but the random itch on the tip of my nose is now no problem at all.

Contemplating the meaning of life while the wire on this electric blanket burns my back...
Contemplating the meaning of life while the wire on this electric blanket burns my back...

Discussing how I occupy my mind during my sessions of stillness is a great way to see where people are coming from. Some jump right to the conclusion of meditation, others seem amazed that I am not just bored out of my skull, and most don't believe I could spend that much time daydreaming (I can). It's also a fascinating exercise for me to review what I actually do while I'm in a pose for an extended amount of time. Actively thinking about occupying myself prompts me to put the time to more productive use (if I feel like it).

My point: I will be working a 9-4 portrait class next week. As much as I discuss what I do while modeling, I've never had to face the idea of a full workweek of the same pose. I'm using this blog, this post, to try and find ideas of some way to use that time productively. Stay tuned for a series of disjointed thoughts, strange stories, or whatever else I can come up with. Feel free to leave ideas for me in the comments!