Anna is a leading theatre actress based in Poland. She has been a performer, artistic director, production theatre founder and performing arts teacher. She is currently completing a Masters in Mindfulness at Aberdeen University.
Anna's mindfulness journey began when she met a Tibetan doctor, Dr Akong Rinpoche, in 1992. Akong Rinpoche impressed her with his simplicity, humanity and deep understanding of human nature. On his suggestion, she co-started a soup kitchen for the poor and homeless. Akong Riponche taught her: "Be really mindful of what you're doing here and now and in every moment".
Integrating mindfulness and compassion into her daily life and work has enriched Anna's life. She says:
"It reflects the general opening up to the bigger picture of the wider world that I first explored and experienced at ANU".
As a teacher, Anna uses mindfulness techniques to help performers connect with the emotional and imaginative source of their singing and speaking voices and build an authentic and courageous presence on stage.
In 2012, Anna was artistic director of the Brave Festival, which presented the work of marginalized women artists from traditional cultures, as well as being a fundraising event for educational projects in Tibet. She says of one of the groups that she invited, Meninas de Sinha, from Brazil:
"Many of them had suffered from depression and there was a lot of violence in their homes. Through creating a community of women singing, playing and performing together they were able to find their internal strength to change something in their own lives: to get over their depression and to get over their fear. Not only was it stunning art; it became a way of healing and self-expression".
Studying at ANU was Anna's first time away from home and she thrived on the freedom of having her own space. She was one of the first residents at Burgmann College which she recalls as "clean and sparkling". Anna had not enjoyed school, but at ANU she discovered a style of education that was open and encouraging. She says:
"It became a new world for me. A world of more than the academic, more than sitting and writing papers and essays and going to classes. It became a whole new way of life and freedom".
Anna was especially drawn to literature and humanities courses and remembers how American literature fired up her imagination.
Despite her original intention of becoming a teacher, receiving a good review for a performance in the ANU student drama group helped her realise that her calling lay elsewhere. She says:
"I realised that I was not going to be a school teacher as my father had hoped. I was interested in self-expression and self-exploration. I've remained in the theatre for 40 years now".
Anna says of her work: "It's not a chore; it's a passion and it's a calling". She encourages students and new graduates to pursue their passion.
"It's important to have a vision to aim for and then step-by-step do what's possible".
In the future, Anna would like to reconnect with her past and "revisit the soil of Australia". Share a performance.