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Ritualize Attention by Lisa Gayhart

time is precious

I was supposed to write this blog post a couple weeks ago. I had it on my to do list, I was thinking about the content, and I really wanted to get started. And yet, even with a week of vacation, I didn’t complete it by my self imposed deadline. Why?

We’re not prioritizing the work that matters to us. We’re lost in shallow work. Shallow work: emails, scrolling, messaging, tidying, making appointments, laundry. All the administrative stuff of life and work that must get done but will never be totally complete. Shallow work not only eats away at your productive hours, but also dilutes our attention and focus leaving us spent but probably not fulfilled.

We all know the feeling of getting lost in work we really love: time flies by, hours lost to the task. We come out the other side energized, excited, and accomplished. This is deep work. (I can’t do the concept of deep work justice in one blog post. Go read Cal Newport’s book Deep Work for the full story.) Even without much discussion, I bet hearing the term triggers thoughts of the work that gives you life, that lights you up. This work doesn’t have to be a solely an individual pursuit or relegated to office/study hours. Community building, parenting, training for a race, planning a trip: these things all take the full care and attention of your focused, thinking mind.

How can we combat shallow work and carve out more time for the work that matters to us: ritualize.

Setting one intention and making space for it daily fosters focus as a habit, setting us up for sustainable success. Some ideas to ritualize attention:

  • Do the most important task first, while attention and creativity are high
  • Make tomorrow’s to do list at the end of each day in order to start the next day smoothly and offer opportunity for reflection
  • Complete creative work in an uninterrupted block of time, ideally the same time slot each day
  • Use the pomodoro technique of breaking work into 25 minute chunks
  • Set aside time at the beginning of the week for planning and time at the end of the week for review
  • Determine and enact your “do not disturb” mode: e.g. a specific place like a quiet office or a buzzing coffee shop; music or white noise; no wifi or notifications off; etc.
  • Schedule specific, time-limited, blocks for email, Insta scrolling, and internet browsing

For me, my deep work is research and writing. It’s hard work to dive into: I have to be in the right state of mind, in the right location, with the right tools or it just doesn’t flow. Or maybe that’s just a story I tell myself to obtain permission to slide into my Instagram feed on the train instead of tapping out 50 words in the Notes app? Most likely the latter.

During August I’m ritualizing my focus by scheduling creative time in the morning before I get distracted and exhausted by the day. Whether it’s 50 words or 500, I’m calling it a win. How about you?


Let’s share our thoughts and experiences on Instagram at #ritualattention, through this site, or in class. But not in real time - enjoy the moments. xoxo

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Lisa Gayhart works in higher ed technology as a UX researcher, academic librarian, and instructor. She’s currently researching digital wellness, in hopes of helping university students cultivate healthier relationships with technology and devices. Lisa is also a Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training student with Ritual Island. She’ll be moving you away from your devices and into your bodies SOON.

@lisagayhart

Reclaiming Our Attention by Lisa Gayhart

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Last November, I started an experiment. I was feeling drained from long days in front of my devices. I felt like I couldn’t focus. I was irritable and distracted. I was tired of giving my best to screens.

I did a little reading and eventually came to the decision to do a technology fast of sorts. Like any lifestyle change, it was very difficult at first. But the more time I spent experimenting with different ways of using tech every day, the better I felt. The weekends felt longer and I felt less scattered. I didn’t bring my phone to meetings or events. With my head up, I saw very clearly how much of ourselves we are handing over to our devices.

This all sounds magical, wonderful, and full of meaningful revelations about life. But, like most things on the internet, it’s not the whole story. Today, I’m right back where I started.

Our relationships with technology are often left out of discussions on health and wellness. For many of us, technology is an ever present and growing force in our lives. Over the last decade or so, we have gradually outsourced our daily thinking and doing to technology. Getting up to flip the record or turn on the radio, walking across the bedroom to set your alarm clock, navigating to an appointment with written directions or a map - these common tasks are increasingly uncommon. Technology is everywhere and it’s not all bad. Today’s technology is amazing! We form relationships around the world, educate ourselves, discover new talents, find solace in like minded groups, start businesses, partake in democracy, and so much more.

Living with tech is not an all or nothing situation: like most things in life, our relationship with technology requires more nuance, more balance. We can design our tech use, intentionally and with purpose, to be something useful and enjoyable. We don’t need to feel drained and stressed by our devices.

In a series of posts this summer, we’ll look at our tech habits and how we got here; learn ways to increase our digital wellness; and discover new corners of the internet - and maybe even ourselves.

In the meantime, let’s start noticing our habits and how we feel:

  • What does your relationship with tech look like?

  • Do you feel drained, pressured to stay in the loop, overwhelmed with information?

  • How do you feel after some time scrolling: drained or energized?

This summer, we reclaim our attention. We make space for more outdoor adventure, more creation, more stargazing, more memories. Our devices will always be there for us.

Let’s share our thoughts and experiences on Instagram at #ritualattention, through this site, or in class. But not in real time - enjoy the moments. xoxo

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Lisa Gayhart works in higher ed technology as a UX researcher, academic librarian, and instructor. She’s currently researching digital wellness, in hopes of helping university students cultivate healthier relationships with technology and devices. Lisa is also a Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training student with Ritual Island. She’ll be moving you away from your devices and into your bodies SOON.

@lisagayhart

RMMTT musings: if hip openers make you cry, you're not alone by michelle cordeiro, cnp

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Last weekend I met for the Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training and had a h.e.a.v.y experience. We all did. The weekend before we all did a whole bunch of hip opening work, we all had some pretty intense personal experiences in the week that followed, and then talked it out (read: collectively cried for 45 minutes). It was a lot. And I struggled with it for many reasons but the main one being that I hate crying in front of others. I do it, but I hate it.  

And I'm working on that. 

I have a beautiful writer of a friend who recently put out a blog post called "The Things I'm Not Sorry For Anymore" and it really struck me (so go read it and marvel over the beauty that is her writing because I can't do it justice). A significant part that has hung on from both her blog and the overall wealth of wisdom that she gifts me, has been to stop apologizing for my emotions.  

And it's so haaarrrddd for me to do, and for many of us to do. It's hard because we often associate our own vulnerability as weakness when it's so intensely the opposite. Vulnerability IS strength. But even knowing this, it takes time to reframe the mind and allow ourselves to let our emotions run fluid.  

Here's a little excerpt: 

"I am learning to not be sorry for having deep emotion. I am not sorry that my tears make you uncomfortable or that my past experiences have made me intolerant to ignorance or that I find your joke offensive." YEP. 

So when I heard that hip opening exercises, like Robin's Hips Don't Lie video, can bring up a lot of emotions, I was curious. But I did the video when she first released it a few months ago expecting a big emotional moment... and felt nothing but sore hips the next day. Okay sure, no big deal, love the DOMS. 

And then two weekends ago we met for the Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training and opened up dem hips for almost 6 hours. Did I feel the emotional side of movement? No. Not at all. Still nothing. 

A week later we met again and the majority of the women in the group had gone through a huge emotional release after our last session... and I sat there feeling cheated out of the full experience. I wanted it! I wanted to experience this deep connection between movement and my emotions other that the obvious feelings of joy that normally follow a good sweat sesh. 

I thought "maybe I'm doing it wrong", "maybe I'm not the ball of emotions I thought I was", "maybe I don't hold anything in my hips".... 

And then it hit me. Hard.  

Robin took us through a guided meditation to deal with all the 'stuff' we were individually/collectively dealing with, and I LOST IT. I have never experienced such a full on emotional overload like that before. There was no warning, no build up, just a bunch of stuff came barreling out all at once and I hated it. I fought against it the entire time, tried to calm myself down, refused to lean into it or let it flow, and felt big shame for showing such extreme emotion even in such a safe space. 

But (but but!) when it was all over I did appreciate how beautiful it was to experience such extreme emotions from movement. During and after moving my body I've felt pure joy, frustration, strength, weakness, but never an uncontrollable sadness like I did on Saturday. Old shit coming to the surface that was held up in my damn hips. It was a wild realization.  

I get it. Yoga, pilates and other movement practices are holistic practices, affecting more than just the physical body. I know that moving can make me feel joyous and relaxed and accomplished, so having this alternative (and delayed!) experience was crazy.  

SO WHY ARE OUR HIPS SO TIGHT? 

Because we're sometimes/usually/always sitting. Our society is so often sitting at a desk, sitting in front of a computer, sitting watching TV or sitting in transit that we often don't allow ourselves to properly stretch out our hips. So when we hold tension in this area, similar to how we can hold tension in our neck and shoulders, it's hard for this tension to be released.  

And this is where a proper movement practice can benefit much more than just the physical body. Much much more. Stretch that stuff out. Squat deep, stand tall, create big, wide knee circles and move your hips in ways that feel really good, sticky, and beneficial. Stuff might come up right then and there, it might come up an hour later, or (if you're like me) it might come up 7 days later when you really don't want it to. Ah, life.  

Curious? Give this 30 minute HIPS DON'T LIE video, created by Robin, a try. It was my first introduction into hip strengthening and mobility work. And then when it's hard, frustrating and sticky, do it again and again. It does get easier, promise.  

 

TRYING TO PUT THE FIRST RMMTT WEEKEND INTO WORDS by Michelle Cordeiro, CNP

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In addition to being a kick-butt holistic nutritionist, member of the Ritual Island practitioner team and weekly contributor to the blog, Michelle is one of the students in our first ever Ritual Movement Method Teacher Training. The program is a 200-hr, year long course, running one weekend/month to train folks to teach our unique approach to movement. It is full for 2018-2019 but sign up for our newsletter to be informed when we begin registration for round 2. 

BUT I DON'T THINK THAT I CAN.

What happens when you put a bunch of women in a room lead by Robin Lamarr?

Movement.

Tears.

Growth.

Community.

It was just so GOOD.

I know GOOD is a pretty mediocre adjective, but when asked to talk about how I was feeling during those two days I often used it. I don't know, it was just hard to express, OKAY.

It was like we were all there for different reasons because none of us came from the same place but we all needed some sort of shift in our lives and then right off the bat we were sharing the honest, personal, hard, yet important stuff and it felt so right and so GOOD right from the first minute to the last. Did that run-on sentence do it justice? No, but I'm getting closer.

As I pedaled to the first day I had all these grand expectations about how much I was going to love every woman there, how I was going to learn so much, how it was all going to feel...everything. It was mapped out in my brain like a nicely worded novel where nothing could go wrong. And for a girl who thought she had a handle on managing her expectations to just go with the flow..this was out of character.

But then I arrived and everything was exactly (or maybe better than? yeah, better than) how I had imagined it. Honestly! Everything! The space was stunning, the group was open and welcoming, everyone shared, and we all just worked through the day together. Not to mention every piece of information made me really pumped on knowledge (diaphragms are so cool, guys!!).

I knew it was GOOD when halfway through my ride home I realized I had traded in my normal cycling focus of looking out for cars! potholes! broken glass! squirrels! for this really dumb toothy smile.

I WAS JUST SO HAPPY.

And then DAY 2 came, and it was like walking into a room of women you've known forever. No one sat beside the same person, we all mingled and laughed and awkwardly worked through each movement without judgement. We literally cheered each other on during the hard parts. I just can't. I could talk about this for hours..and I already have (shout out to my friends for asking and listening!).

What made it all extra special for me was, being my first ever movement teacher training, was the fact that it was Robin's first time teaching a training too. It's like we were all learning and growing at the same time and I think that added something a little extra.

I am so thankful. So privileged to have mentors like Robin and Emily. And so grateful to be supported beyond measure by those around me.

I think this is going to be big.