5 Tips for Focusi…. Wait, I Need a Snack

My path to Creative Mastery WEEK 7

But seriously, how come when I have to catch up on emails, all of a sudden I need to clean the house? But when I have to clean the house, I neeeed to answer my emails first? How come when I get to the studio to practice, I need a coffee, to pee, to check Instagram and blog stats and then to pee again?

Whats this? Oh just Monday with the Myrtle Sisters!

This week I was going to level-up my practices by focusing on being more focused, but I seemed to have done the opposite. What the what? I even did a 24 hour social media fast. We as humans are very adaptable. It doesn’t take long to re-program those brain highways, but it seems that I rebel against my own self-pressure.

Hold the phone.

They say our smart phone use is like driving a reward machine. A dopamine mobile.

Dopamine is involved in all sorts of brain functions, including moving, thinking, sleeping, attention, mood, motivation, seeking and reward. Apparently dopamine causes the seeking of pleasure and the motivation to learn and survive.

Dopamine makes us curious of ideas and sparks our pursuit for information. We get a rush of dopamine that drives us to check our phones, and then we get rewarded with an email, or a “like”, or a “connection” with someone, and this makes us seek more.

Last week I found I had become rather addicted to checking the stats to see how many people were reading my articles. So I made a pact with an accountability partner that I would only look at it 3 times a day.

I was getting a RUSH from checking! But I get it now, it was the dopamine that made me do it!

Do you need to stop reading this and check your email? If you didn’t before, you might now that I mentioned it.

Distraction feels great.

David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009), says that our brain’s reward circuit lights up when we multitask. We are getting an emotional high when we are doing a lot at once.

When multitasking is a normal part of life, our brains quickly adapt. Our society’s phone-checking habit is actually hindering our ability to focus as we are actually training our brains to be unfocused. David Rock says we should practice concentration by turning off all distractions and committing our attention to a single task. He says it’s like getting fit and building the muscle of being focused.

When do YOU pull out your phone? Line ups? Poop-time? Stop-lights? Bus stops? …Any waiting time? Oh.. I understand, you have emails to answer, this is business. You need to take care of your family.

It seems many people pull out their phones to fill up any moments of empty space that used to be used to talk with a stranger, observe our surroundings or simply think. Some people don’t like being left alone with their thoughts. I wasn’t talking about YOU. It’s the others that do that.

Sharon Begley author of “Can’t just stop” says that “By making us feel we are always connected to the world, [smartphones] alleviate the anxiety that otherwise floods into us from feeling alone and untethered.”

So, maybe our smartphones are being used as band-aids for feeling disconnected.

It always seems to come back to feeling connected. We just want to belong. I don’t know about you, but I sure need to feel seen, heard and understood.

I’m only speaking about myself here. Everyone has their own level of focus and their own set of challenges. I’ve been challenging myself to have an honest look at my negative patterns, and to break them.

In clown school we talk about the primal energies that are alerted in the unknown that is in the breaking of rhythms. That primal energy? Vitality, presence, alertness, awareness…

I’m breaking my own patterns of phone use.

Here are 5 tips I’ve found for increasing my focus:

  1. Hold the phone. No phone before bed. (Apparently it effects our ability to sleep deeply). I also do not open my phone first thing in the morning. This puts us into a reactionary state for the day instead being creative stewards of our own lives.
  2. Strategic journaling. Every morning I write down what I wish to do/accomplish for the day. I write down what I wish to accomplish before each training session. Clarity!
  3. Get enough sleep. I can’t talk straight when I’m tired. I’m already “neural A-typical” as it is and if I haven’t had enough sleep I am prone to wixing up my mords and saying 2 words at once. Like instead of wanting to pet/cuddle the cat.. I will peddle it.
  4. 24 hour social media fast. Do it! It feels good. And also, take off ALL notifications. YOU control your phone! No beeps, peeps, dings or dongs. I’m sorry, I don’t usually tell people what to do. Like a good non violent communicator, I shall invite you to do this.
  5. Meditation. Right now I commit to 15 minutes a day. How many 15 minutes-es does one waste in a day? I think it’s almost time for me to level that up a bit too.

Monday was off to a great start. I trained in tap, worked with the Myrtle Sister’s in preparation for our ARTSTARTS showcase and joined the Assembly to work on our clown-play.

Ideas Bobert and The Myrtle Sisters; in preparation for the ARTSTARTS showcase!

On tuesday I arrived at the studio to find that I forgot ONE tap shoe at home. Are you kidding me? FML.

So instead of training, I cleaned up my inbox. Meow.

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday I worked 8am to 8pm as a mental health support worker for people with mental health and addiction issues. That is 36 hours in 3 days, and I am at the moment I am still recovering. We were put on overdose alert for a particular client and carried around a syringe of narcan prepped and ready to go.

One of the reason’s I’ve been offering the Physical Theatre for Kids and the Kinder Clown classes is that I feel it is the preventative work that counter balances all of the years of harm reduction work I have done.

They say the opposite of addiction is connection. The clown work is seeped in connection and awareness skills. With the kids, we play in exploring creativity, emotions and their physical shapes. We play with sharing, eye contact and the different ways we can connect with an audience and each other.

This class was a highlight for me this week. Do you know a creative kid? Next series begins March 6th.

Kinder Clown!

There was a lot of emotional discharging this week. I know. That sounds gross, and it felt gross, but I did it. I don’t judge myself for it.

I was triggered when I felt that my safety wasn’t being considered by someone that is close to me. The situation itself seems like such an insignificant event, but a lot of grief came up in my body. Yup, grief. Feelings of insecurity, helplessness and fear of being abandoned.

I did the thing, I acknowledged the emotion, witnessed the physical sensations in my body, and imagined the opposite, and let go of the resistance to feeling the positive.

This week was hard, and I only managed to tap train for a total of 4 hours. It is what it is, I still did it! Only 9,451 hours to go!

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