Wednesday, 18 July 2012

ever outwards

Thinking about that in/out discussion of the previous posts, I suddenly remembered the New Scientist article on flow that Jim and I had a discussion about some time ago. One of the things discussed in this article was a study which compared expert and novice swimmers:

Novices who concentrated on an external focus - the water's movements around their limbs - showed the same effortless grace as those with more experience, swimming faster and with a more efficient technique. Conversely, when the expert swimmers focused on their limbs, their performance declined (International Journal of Sport Science and Coaching, vol 6, p99). 

Wulf's findings fit well with the idea that flow - and better learning - comes when you turn off conscious thought. 'When you have an external focus, you achieve a more automatic type of control' she says, ' You don't think about what you're doing, you just focus on the outcome'.

New Scientist, 4th Feb 2012:34

My personal history of avoiding important aspects of  'inner' activity predisposes me to be careful about saying something like 'an outward focus seems to help in releasing creativity'. But this is an interesting piece of research in relation to the discussion of the Discipline of Freedom focus on the outward movement of creative products into the world.

It chimes with my own experience, and with Barry Green's ('inner game') idea of Self 1 and Self 2. When you're in Self 1 mode, concentrating on how 'you' sound, thinking about what people are thinking of you, judging every single tiny note or mark that comes out before it's hardly hit the page, your performance or products are half of what they can be. When you're in Self 2 mode, not thinking about any of the above, but focussed on the music itself, or on the colours and textures, with no thought, it all comes out differently. 

This shift is exactly what Authentic Artist and Discipline of Freedom workshops facilitate. You see it with your own eyes as other people work, and you feel it in yourself as you do the same. When you first enter the space, you're 'all zipped up'; aware of yourself, of your witnesses, thinking about your voice or your body. By the end, you're pretty much 'unzipped'; much more of an open channel for something that's moving through you. That's the freedom, in Discipline of Freedom.

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