Summary: Learn about our brain and its ability to focus on only one thing at a time and how this benefits us. Also experience a motion to practice focus and increase sensory awareness. Join host Pamela Stokes for another mythbusting episode of Move Into Resilience and learn about how our brain works.
- Multi tasking vs. focusing
- Default Mode Network
- Male and Female brains and focusing
- Focusing makes happy brain chemicals
- Multi tasking is a myth and results in a stress response
- FOCUSED BREATHING invites us to focus our in different areas
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Hello, and welcome to Move Into Resilience. I’m your host Pamela Stokes. In today’s episode we’re going to bust another myth—multi-tasking, it’s just not possible. And we’ll experience a motion which uses your focused attention to increase your sensory awareness. So let’s begin.
[00:32] Multi-tasking and focusing
Hello, friends. Pamela here. In today’s episode we’re going to be busting the myth about multi tasking and whether or not it’s possible. I wanted to tell you about your brain and the two different sort of ways that it functions. One way is called the default network, and this is when we’re not really trying to focus on anything, and it’s sort of the chatter that occurs in our mind. And we can be in the default network while we’re doing things when we’re not really paying attention to them, and it’s also a time to sort of let your mind just wander. And this can be good if we’re daydreaming. But another type of activity that our brain likes to do is to focus, and when we’re in the focus mode, it’s actually very good for our health. When we go into this mode, a whole cascade of happy brain chemicals gets made and we function better, so our brain actually prefers the focus mode. I think this harkens back to when we were living in small groups, way back when, to really focus and be looking for food—hunting and gathering, that sort of thing. And when we’re focused in that, we know that there’s going to be some good outcome, some pleasant outcome. So it is my understanding that this is probably why it feels so good to us when we are focused, and why we get this flood of happy brain chemicals. So when we are ‘multi-tasking’, and I’m putting that in quotation marks, what we’re really doing is we’re switching from one task to another quickly, and we might feel as though we’re doing them at the same time, but the brain isn’t capable of that. It’s capable of focusing on one thing at a time. So in actuality multitasking doesn’t really exist. Now I have heard that the male brain, and this is you know there’s a spectrum here, but the tendency for the male brain is it’s difficult to switch and change focus, but then it can get focused again. Whereas, the female brain, and again this is just you know there’s a spectrum, it’s a generality, that the female brain is more easily changed from one thing to another, to focus on one thing and then focus on another very rapidly. So it may feel as though we’re able to multitask and it may seem as though that’s what we’re doing, but in actuality we are focusing on one thing and then another.
[03:49] Implicit memory
Now the idea of doing two things at once may come up. And when we’re doing two things at once, it takes a while for our brain to learn those two things together. And once it does learn those things and has that pattern, it stores it away in our automatic brain and it becomes an implicit memory, which means we can access it as a combination of things. So, for example, riding a bicycle. When we first learn to ride a bicycle, our focus is on our feet and our hands and our balance, and where we’re going and all of that. When we ultimately have learned to put these things together and make it one action, the bicycle riding, it becomes an automatic movement pattern. And, like they say, you don’t forget how to ride a bike. And that’s because it’s in that part of the brain that we can access, those implicit memories.
[04:55] Multi tasking is a myth.
So the conclusion here is multi-tasking is not real. It’s a myth. Don’t try to do too many things at once, because when we’re focused we’re actually doing something really good for our brain. We will have more clarity and we can accomplish the task better, and we’ll make some of those happy chemicals so we feel good too. If you need to do multiple things, pause, switch to the other thing so you can focus on that as well. When we try to do too many things, we go into a stress mode and we will make the chemicals that make us feel uncomfortable and we’ll create some constriction around that. So do yourself a favor and stop this multi-tasking business. It’s a myth. Focus. Our brain loves focus. And enjoy that.
[05:59] Intro to Focused Breathing
So in today’s motion, what I would like to do is to try to use this focus to allow ourselves to bring awareness to different parts of our breathing apparatus. When we focus our attention on a part of the body, our energy goes there, the blood flows there, the lymph fluid flows there, and we have good circulation in that area. It also will bring nutrients in because of this circulation, and it will take toxins out. So by bringing your awareness and your focused attention to a certain part of the body while you’re breathing, you will allow the air to sort of move into that place, bringing the energy there, bringing the circulation there, increasing the circulation. So let’s go ahead and begin. What you’ll be doing is you’ll be taking three breaths, three full breaths, in each area. And we’re going to use the hands to kind of bring our attention to these places as well as to support the observation of the sensations there. When we notice body sensations this is called interoception. And this noticing actually stimulates our insula, which is a part of the brain that allows us to connect to ourselves, and it also allows us to connect to others. So by doing activities like this where we are focusing on a certain part of ourselves and noticing what we notice, we are sending good messages through to the insula that all is well, and we can be connected in this way.
[07:54] Focused Breathing
So let’s begin. I’d like you to first place your hands on your lower belly. Both hands there. And then slowly inhale and exhale three times. Please join in. And inhale again, noticing the warmth of your hands. And exhale. And one more time, inhale, and notice your hands moving under the breath. And exhale, noticing the breath moving to that area as you breathe. And now we’ll move the hands around to the lower back, and you can use the backs of your hands or your palms. And as we bring our hands there, again notice the warmth of your hands on your back. Notice the pleasant sensation of contact and connection. And then we’ll take three breaths here, noticing if there is any movement of your hands as you breathe. Inhale and exhale, and imagine bringing your breath to your lower back, as we breathe in and out. And we’ll do one more here. Again bringing the breath and the awareness to your lower back. Inhale and exhale and then you can relax your hands. And we’re going to do one more location. This time, bring your hands to your side ribs, so your right hand on your right ribs your left hand on your left ribs. And again as we bring the breath here, imagine the breath filling these areas. And notice if you can, your hands moving. So feeling the connection with your hands, feeling the warmth there. And then we’ll take an inhale and exhale into the side ribs. And again, inhale, exhale, noticing any movement that might be there. Inhale again and exhale. And then go ahead and relax your hands and then notice how you feel.
[11:08] Recap and LESS STRESS/MORE COMFORT course offering
You may notice as you’re breathing that more of you is breathing. Like I said before, as we’re bringing awareness to these places, blood is flowing to those areas. This it allows us to sense what’s going on. So I hope that was enjoyable for you, and I hope that you’ll remember that multi tasking is a myth. Our brain does one thing at a time, and when we try to do too many things it becomes stressful. So we’re going to stay out of the default network and come into focused brain, and this focus will produce happy brain chemicals making you feel good, as well as making you feel safe, because when we can focus, our nervous system understands that we must be safe. Thank you so much for joining me today, and send yourself some appreciation for joining in. This has been Move Into Resilience. You can learn more at MoveIntoResilience.com and I have a course there called LESS STRESS/MORE COMFORT, which is a hybrid course that includes motions like we do here on this show as well as three private sessions with me. I hope you’ll join in. I’m Pamela Stokes. Take it easy!