December 5, 2017

Bare Attention

This continues a conversation with Sarah Honeychurch and others about activities we do in meetings or workshops that help us concentrate. Sarah has since followed up with a question about how to 'ask permission' for such activities in the workplace.

This post by Nancy Chick "Doodling & Knitting" mentions the body language of paying attention. This is part of the issue. There are direct expectations in these work situations of eye contact and body positioning that is 'indicating' to the facilitator or speaker that you are paying attention. By occupying our hands with things other than a pen, our body language is sending an 'inattention' message. What is happening in the brain is the opposite. 

Bare Attention
Another term for mindfulness. I love the quote from T J Manning in Mindful Knitting "an intense form of paying attention". In my recent workshop, I was in a room with my seven colleagues for the whole day. I find that I was paying a lot of attention to their body language and this was distracting me from what was being said. To be able to listen to somebody speak and have the freedom to allow our own thoughts to form, we need to reduce the visual input. By occupying my hands with crochet and wool I can have that intense focus and be able to pick out the crux of the message. Yes, it was reducing eye contact, but that gets jaded after awhile and I find my eyes glazing over.

Doodling
This train of thought is also relevant to this month's #CLMOOC theme of doodling. You might need to go behind a firewall somewhere to get to this article “What Does Doodling Do?” (Andrade, 2010). This talks about doodling while listening being a beneficial 'dual-task situation'. When the first task (listening) has a low resource requirement, we might tend to daydream or drift off. By adding a second task like doodling or crochet (repetitive, self-paced task) it is increasing the mental resource load but not blocking the ability to remember things heard.

Now I'm off to read more about visuomotor learning!