The following post is part of a project to share reflections about all 28 of the core elements of InterPlay. For background information about InterPlay or this project, read What the Heck is InterPlay?! Subscribe by email to receive updates.
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I love things that are easy. So when I learned that the most fundamental InterPlay tool is called “easy focus,” I knew I was onto a good thing.
Easy focus is the process of widening our focus, relaxing our bodies, and using all of our senses to percieve the world around us.
A Personal Story
Just last week I was at a wine bar on a first date. Now, I don’t know anything about wine. Nada. Zilch. So I got a little stressed when my date playfully suggested I do a blind taste test. Always the good student, I prepared by studying a sip of each wine in our flight, willing myself to find words to describe their subtle differences. I was concentrating so hard, my forehead wrinkled and my eyes squinted. Focusing too hard can be uncomfortable!
Luckily, I caught myself mid-squint and realized I was taking this taste test far too seriously. “Gretchen dear,” I told myself. “How about just relaxing, and trusting that your taste buds know the difference? You’ve tasted the wines once. You’ll be fine!”
In other words — have an easy focus about the whole thing!
Immediately I relaxed. Smiled. Took a deep breath. Closed my eyes. Tasted…and voila! I passed the test with flying colors! Not a single wine misidentified. Proud was I. Impressed was my date. Well played, Gretchen, well played.
Both a Physical Experience and a State of Mind.
Easy focus is a physical experience in that it involves relaxing the face muscles, loosening the eyes’ hold on any one object, and widening one’s peripheral vision.
Easy focus is also a state of mind in that it involves a loosening of our need to control situations. It is an accepting state, a surrender of sorts. Easy focus acknowledges that our bodies are capable of holding multiple feelings and ideas at one time.
Sheesh! The weekend after the wine bar date I had a bajillion feelings swirling inside of me — sorrow over a recent break up, thrill about this new connection, fear about all of life’s uncertainties, and more. All these feelings, all at once! I’m grateful for the InterPlay practice of easy focus because it allows me to hold two or more seemingly conflicting realities at one time. As the facilitator’s handbook says so reassuringly,
We can go crazy trying to focus on one thing or another, or we can relax and have the fullness of all the elements that make up our lives.
How to Create Easy Focus
Tip 1: Take a deep breath and let it out with a loud sigh. Try it now (you’ll see; it’s really satisfying!): Deep breath. Loud side. We do that all the time during InterPlay. In fact, there’s nothing sweeter than the sound of 10 people sighing together.
Tip 2: Roll the MuseCubes. They’re a set of dice that help people shake themselves into new mindstates. Roll the dice, and then do what they say: Shake and howl! Twist and whoop! Most people report feeling more relaxed, more vibrant, and more open.
Tip 3. Take a walk outside. Recently, I blogged about the role that nature plays in calming our attention, which results in more brain power when we go back to trying to focus later. This is exactly the effect Phil and Cynthia talk about when they say, “it can be quite wondrful to be in an easy focus state and then let the focus come out and do its wonderful work.
Tip 4. What do you think? What creates a sense of easy focus for you? Please comment!