Friday Lesson: Focusing Power/The Washer Pendulum Activity

Courtesy of Justin McGlamery & Michael Gessford|

Individuals can achieve better control over their own focusing powers by scheduling time to ponder and reflect. Becoming aware of the best setting or style of activity for you will help you open your mind and focus on your thoughts. Try various places and times for uninterrupted thinking.

Often, we don’t take the time to sit and spend time in undistracted thought. The reason for this is an adrenaline addiction, the compulsion we feel to be constantly in motion, busy and productive. The media influences us to stay connected at all times. To combat those distractions, we need to practice the skill of putting ourselves in places that are conducive to deep thinking, physically and emotionally. We practice the skill of opening ourselves up so that the increased focus will allow the productive thoughts we are seeking to enter our consciousness.

“Quiet Watching” is one way we have found to best take advantage of the connection to nature and other people. Steven Simpson, in his book The Leader Who Is Hardly Known, suggests that nature is often the best place to practice quiet watching—deeply focusing on a large object such as a cloud, a mountain, a pond, or even a campfire for at least 10 minutes or more.

Because the great outdoors is not always available to us, we have developed an indoor activity called “The Washer Pendulum,” which can help people achieve a state of elevated focus. This exercise is accomplished by deeply focusing your individual energy on an object. It helps to develop the skill of blocking out extraneous input from your environment and concentrating solely on one thing at a time.

Contributor/History
This particular activity developed from a chance meeting at the 2006 AEE International Conference in Minneapolis. The concept of using a washer tied onto a string to help show common energy was introduced to us by Becky Disciacca, a teacher at the Horace Mann School in New Milford, Connecticut.

Concept/Objective
The goal is to be able to control the washer and its movements while remaining as still as you can by focusing all your energy down the string to the washer. With great focus, you should be able to make the washer swing from side to side, from front to back, and in a clockwise and counter-clockwise motion.

Props/Materials Needed/Preparation
You need washers that are about the size of a dime (5/16″) and thin cotton string (nylon string is harder to work with when tying the knots). Tie a foot-long piece of string to a washer, using two half hitches cinched up tight. Tie a simple overhand in the other end of the string to keep it from unraveling. Trim the ends of the strings close to the knots as long ragged ends can be distracting.

Directions/Instructions/Scenarios
• Sit in a chair or on the floor with your elbows resting on your knees. Press the washer-free end of the string to your forehead using the index finger from each hand. This two-finger method, combined with your elbows on your knees, will help to stabilize your whole shoulder girdle and upper body. Let the washer pendulum hang down in front of you.
• The goal is to be able to control the washer and its movements. With great focus, you should be able to make the washer swing from side to side, from front to back and swing in a clockwise and counter-clockwise motion. Once you have practiced these motions, you should be able to do them in a random order. It will take a few seconds when switching from one direction to another. Keep your focus.
• Next, try making it stop completely.

Variations
• Once you have mastered these movements and want to move to the next level, try it with a partner. Hold the string by pressing your foreheads together. Be aware that when working with a partner, directions are sometimes opposite. For example, when you declare that you are going to work together to make the washer move in a clockwise motion, the person who says that should make a spiraling motion under the washer with her index finger so both partners are clear as to which direction that is.
• Have all participants move their washer pendulums in the same direction at the same time.

Debriefs
Notice the level of concentration you need in order to get this to work. This is the feeling you are trying to achieve when you are being open or becoming the “master of the possible.”

This lesson is compliments of Michael Gessford and Justin McGlamery. To find more information and to contact the authors, please visit: www.focusyourlocus.com

Thanks for joining us in March, 2010 for Friday Lessons. Michael Gessford and Justin McGlamery are the coauthors of Focus Your Locus.

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