3 Good Reasons Not to Concentrate – Part 1

“Concentrate!” we’re told, in order to get things right. Is that really the best idea? Does it really help? Here are three reasons why I think concentrating generally isn’t a great idea and an alternative.

When you narrow your focus, you lose the big picture

The other day working with a woman who enjoys hunting, we found that in her hunting stance, she was bringing a great deal of tension to bear on focusing. In her concentration, her neck and back were working harder to support her head, which moved forward toward where she was looking. But as I guided her into relieving the excess tension in her neck and around her eyes, she allowed her head to come back into an easy alignment, she become more aware of her surroundings using her peripheral vision and she looked toward her target without straining. She also became more balanced, with better support for holding her arms up.

When we focus our attention and energy on one single thing, our eyes get “stuck.” Not only that, but I have discovered in myself and in others that when muscles around the eyes strain, the neck tenses. And excess tension in the neck pulls the head out of alignment and interferes with free and easy movement.

We also tend to lose all notion of everything else when we focus: time, others, our surroundings and the excess tension that builds in mind and body. “Tunnel vision” sets in, effecting our ability to see what we don’t expect. And as the Harvard Business Review notes, excessive focus causes your brain to lose energy it needs to process information and make well thought-out decisions.

Basically, when we pull our focus in, we create effort that gets in the way of our body’s innate ability to balance, support itself and to be aware of a spectrum of information and possibilities.

The good news is that the opposite is true, too! When we release excess tension in the neck, the body naturally moves toward a more natural alignment. We stop working so hard, eyes free up to see better and our awareness of our surroundings and of our selves expands. We become more balanced and move more easily.

Try this: focus your eyes intently on a single object. What happens to your peripheral vision? What do you notice in your neck? In your breathing? Next soften your gaze and see what happens with your eyes. What else enters into your field of vision? Do you notice a change in tension in your body?

Attention is like a muscle, too! Practicing the Alexander Technique we develop and stretch that “attention muscle.” When faced with something we want to focus on, rather than contracting and straining to block out distractions, we can choose to direct and expand our attention. We become better able to see the big picture, with all the insights we gain from that. An Alexander teacher can help you increase mind-body awareness and discover how to stop straining.

Stay tuned for the next two reasons why not to concentrate and what to do instead! See summer class information below. Don’t miss out!

Wishing you a fantastic summer!

The wisdom of the doughnut! Looking for ease and looking at the big picture at Dobson Creek Coffee in Ronan, MT
(I recommend the almond slice-covered donut holes, by the way!)

DiscoverEase in Movement with Alexander Technique – Classes

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July 16 3:00-5:00 at The Lotus Helena


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DiscoverEase in Movement in Helena
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Alexander Technique for Singers
July 15 7-8:30 at Music Makers Conservatory in Helena
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Postural health in the workplace
Arrange posture and movement coaching at your company to keep your team healthy.
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Tips and Articles

To learn more, suscribe to my mailing list or read past articles, like “How to Help Yourself Get Out of Pain Part 1” and “Part 2” or “3 Steps to Stop Contributing to Your Own Pain.”

If you want to discover how you can learn to recognize and change your habitual patterns of tension, write me at info@discoverease.how to schedule a private lesson or to sign up for a group class. Or forward this email to have Alexander Technique posture and movement coaching at work to protect yourself from occupational musculoskeletal injury.

You can also join the Facebook group “Mind-body freedom and balance with Alexander Technique with Mari Hodges” to read tips and ask questions.

If you have questions or a subject you’d like me to write about, please let me know! Write me at info@discoverease.how or post in the Facebook group. I’d love to hear from you!

DiscoverEASE in Movement, whether you’re sitting, standing, walking, running, playing an instrument or working!

At DiscoverEase in Movement, I help people get “unstuck” and literally recover a spring in their step by releasing unconscious tension that gets in the way of free and easy movement.

I work with musicians, runners, walkers, massage therapists, healthcare professionals, people who meditate, dancers, people who work with computers, people in pain, people who want to get out and move more, people recovering from injury, people confined to a wheelchair, people who are curious …. and I find patterns of tension built up in daily life that interfere with what they want to do. I help them to recognize and release unneeded effort, be more mindful about how they use their body, and allow natural, inner coordination for greater freedom, ease and joy of movement and uprightness. For a happier, healthier and more fulfilling life!

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Join the Facebook group where you can ask questions!

I am certified by the Society of Teachers of the Alexander Technique, and I’m also certified as an Art of Running instructor, applying the Alexander Technique to running. I’m an active member of the American Society for the Alexander Technique and the Asociación Argentina de Técnica Alexander, and I continue my education all the time in the Alexander Technique, neuroscience, pain prevention studies, movement, non-violent communication, violin and more.

The Alexander Technique training includes self-work to incorporate the principles of the Technique and practical work with others.My training enables me to analyze movement and help others optimize their coordination. Taking the time to incorporate the Technique in a three-year, 1,600-hour training course means that when I work with someone, it’s not just manipulating the body of a person who’s passively receiving; we’re working together to discover ease in place of unneeded effort.

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Thank you for reading! I hope you have found this newsletter helpful. Please feel free to forward it to friends or colleagues who might be interested.

Contact me at:
Mari Hodges, M.AmSAT, AATA

DiscoverEASE in Movement with Alexander Technique
The Art of Running

Mobile phone: (406) 544-4625