We had the good fortune of connecting with Ellen Schoeters and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ellen, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
This is such a wonderful question to contemplate. Thank you for asking this profound question. There are many things that give me joy, from spending the day with my husband to hearing the birds sing, feeling the sun, seeing beautiful landscapes and working on a character for a film but over the last year I discovered none of these make you happy when anyone around you is suffering. It’s been so challenging for many people lately. And knowing that those we deeply care about, our partner, our family, neighbors and friends and even the people we don’t know that well, are healthy and without suffering, is such a relief. We definitely get the chance now to think more about what true happiness really means. We used to take everything for granted, even our own human life and simple things like breathing we took for granted. We often believe happiness is found in being busy, running around the entire day trying to fulfill our desires until we get the chance to go within or until we are forced to stand still and to look inside. And in that space, in that stillness and in the clarity of our own mind, our own heart we can find such a beautiful source of happiness and peace. I noticed how meditation brings me closer to a more pure form of happiness. We don’t need to rely on any external sources, we have the most beautiful source of happiness and peace within. It just takes time, effort and concentration to go into and remain in that place for a while. Learning that our happiness is not dependent on externalities, is one of the most beautiful lessons I could have received in this life. And I’m still working on developing more and more familiarity with this inner exploration. This feels like true happiness.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Life is a series of moments, one moment leading to the next and even one thought leading to the next thought. Every moment contributes to and is part of change. But the subtle day to day change we don’t notice as much. We all go through huge transitions over the years, some are beneficial and some not so beneficial. When I fist started acting I put on my confident mask, able to overcome my inner insecurity that was never not there, but I had nothing to lose and went from one audition to the next. I didn’t have any acting training, was young and followed my gut feeling and booked several parts. I was full of energy because I loved what I did more than anything in the world. Then I decided it was time for a formal training and went to the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles and for the very first time in my life I felt like coming home in a school. Then I did a three year Meisner Training in the Netherlands and enjoyed every moment of this profound exploration. It gave me so much energy and many of my teachers helped me gain more confidence. I got the chance to work in several film and television productions in Europe before we moved back to the US where I started out with full energy but then mistakenly opened my mind for self doubt to creep in again, feeding those feelings with external and internal stories from the past and the present to the point that I became frightened for an audition to appear. But it takes time to notice that it is your own thought pattern that creates the obstacles. We usually attribute our feelings and thoughts to our externalities but we forget to look inside and see that we are the ones creating all the stories. We believe every word we internally say to ourselves as if it is the truth. And then one day a reiki patient suggested me to come to a meditation class with her. This was the beginning of a complete transformation that I’m still working on today. Little by little starting to see beyond our ordinary senses and perception and trying to tap into the bigger more truthful picture. It’s a slow and steady process of overcoming inner obstacles that we are so familiar with and learning to guard our mind when negative thoughts appear. I’m so grateful to learn, recognize what’s leading the show in my mind, and going through these transitions because very old patterns are being healed. With familiarity, training and effort we can overcome any inner obstacle.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would take my friends to see Santa Barbara, to feel its wonderful energy, and let them enjoy the beautiful views of the ocean and take them on a lovely hike in the hills. We could maybe take a surf class together or paddle on a board and be close to the dolphins. Or just relax and enjoy the beauty of nature. We could go to the botanical gardens and see the museum of natural history and have a picnic at the old mission. We would enjoy the Californian vegan food, berries, smoothies and juices, stroll along Butterfly beach and make a stop in Carpinteria. I would mainly let them experience the beauty of nature, do some wonderful hikes together and probably take them to one of our meditation classes in Los Angeles for a profound inner experience as well. And hopefully after this trip they will feel relaxed and restored 🙂
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I wish to dedicate this shoutout to all my kind acting teachers and to the kind teachers at Modern Kadampa Buddhism. These teachings help me heal many wounds, painful states of mind, certain habits I wanted to get rid of for a long time and one step at the time the deep and profound meditations bring to the surface that what still needs to be worked on. So many wonderful teachers I have the great good fortune to learn from each day. And of course above all I wish to dedicate to my amazing husband who supports me in all my choices.