Your Circle of Attention

young woman intently focused on laptop

Let’s face it, part of the problem with working on your posture is that your posture is happening all the time. Your posture is what you’re doing right now. Not how you were sitting 10 minutes ago. And not how you’re going to be standing 10 minutes from now.

You’ve got to figure out some manageable way to pay some attention to yourself a little more often during the day. That’s the real challenge.

I have a suggestion.

Where’s your attention right now? If you’re reading this, probably on this screen. You’re human and therefore dominated by your sense of sight. It’s normal for you to have your attention on what you’re looking at. Not just some of your attention, but often all of it.

When you start to work on your posture, you might take a moment now and then to shift your attention to yourself and off whatever you’re doing (let’s call that your task). This can be problematic because you’re switching your attention back and forth. It’s one or the other, but not both. At least for me, that breaks up my ability to stay focused on what I’m doing.

What I enjoy doing instead is cultivating my skill of making my circle of attention bigger, so it includes me and my task. I do this by tuning in to another one of my senses. You can do it, too.

Here’s something simple you can try the next time you’re working at your computer:

Sit close enough to the computer that you can sit comfortably all the way back in your chair. Take a large firm pillow and put it behind you. By large I mean a 16-inch x 16-inch pillow or something similar in size. Allow your back to spread out and rest against the pillow. You should be able to stay in contact with the pillow while easily seeing the screen and comfortably reaching your keyboard. If you’re not, get in closer.

First, work for 5-10 minutes on something and let your focus be solely on what you’re doing.

Then, stop working. If your body came forward away from the back of the chair while you were just working now, allow yourself to sit all the way back in the chair again with the pillow in contact with your back. Allow your back to spread out and rest against the pillow. Now close your eyes. Take a moment to notice the contact of your feet with the floor, your legs and bottom with the chair, and your back with the big pillow behind you. Just notice. You don’t have to do anything.

Next, open your eyes and look at the screen and what you’d been working on previously. What happened to your attention? Did you lose a sense of your back against the pillow? If you did, that’s normal. It’s your sense of sight wanting to dominate your attention. While you just had your eyes closed, you were using your sense of touch to help be aware of your body in space and the support of the floor, chair, and pillow. You can still use that sense of touch even when you add your sense of sight back in. But be aware, your sight is going to want to take over.

For a few moments see if you can continue to work on whatever is on your screen but allow your circle of attention to grow and come all the way around to your back. Use your sense of contact with the pillow to help you include your back in your attention.

This is a fun little exercise to add to your repertoire. Using something tangible, like the pillow, practice using your sense of touch to be aware of your back (and yourself) while you’re looking out in front of you.

You can practice this while driving your car, riding on the bus, or sitting in a café while talking to your friend across the table. The fun thing is, nobody will know that you’re working on expanding your circle of attention to include yourself—by tuning in to your sense of touch a bit more and not letting the visual sense completely dominate.

An essential first step towards effectively working on your posture over the long term.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

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