Deep dive into "unfocused attention" & imagination

May 21 / Kelly-Ann Denton
YOUR IMAGINATION BUILDS BELOW THE SURFACE, DEEP UNDER WHAT APPEARS 
AS CONSCIOUSNESS. THEREFORE YOU’RE NOT TRYING TO CONNECT WITH WHAT’S ON THE SURFACE, THATS THE RESULT, YOU’RE CONNECTING TO WHAT IS UNSEEN.
MINDFUL ART PRACTICE HELPS WHAT IS BUILDING OR PERCOLATING UNDER THE SURFACE - TO RISE TO THE TOP, LIKE A LILY SO THAT THE IDEA OR “INSIGHT” IS REALISED.
If our minds are constantly processing information, we never get a chance to let our imagination develop. V8_The Lily and the Billabong is a project, an opportunity for you to engage in a non process driven / mindful practice - or unfocused attention. Consider it “play” for adults.
This is why.

Conscious experience is transient; it rarely remains on one theme for any period of time and our attention spans are shrinking. When conscious thoughts stick around, it’s usually rumination, causing anxiety. Anxiety, rumination and short attention spans are surely not the outcomes we’re hoping for?

Nature Communications published a study showing these days people have more things to focus on – but often focus on things for shorter periods of time. The study conducted by Technical University of Denmark shows that the shear amount of information we are exposed to and need to engage in - coupled with the negative effects of social media and the addiction to a 24 hour news cycle is leaving our thinking processes fragmented. This is a dreadful ingredient for creative thinking.

We have to re-adapt (not mal-adapt) to this new world phenonema of short attention spans & constant “technology” engaged minds with play, mind wandering or “unfocused attention”. Studies exploring the phenomenology of “unfocused attention” highlight the importance of its role in meta-cognition and importantly, imagination. The experience of mind wandering, daydreaming or engaging in unfocused attention helps us to switch from a current task to unrelated thoughts and feelings. This is critical for building new neural pathways in unique ways – imagination.

Being able to switch between focused and unfocused attention is an important skill as Stanford’s Emma Seppälä writes:

“The idea is to balance linear thinking—which requires intense focus—with creative thinking, which is borne out of idleness. Switching between the two modes seems to be the optimal way to do good, inventive work”
Ideation happens when your mind is unfocused, playing, daydreaming or idle. Research•• by University of California, Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler and his colleagues, for example, find that people are more creative after they have been daydreaming or letting their minds wonder.
Many of us go entire days without putting our brains on idle, and others never do it at all. Between work and homelife we’re constantly busy and engaged with activities that require focus. Downtime is often engaging in our phones, Youtube, Facebook e.t.c. - which is NOT idle thinking.

We need to find time to give our brains a pause. If our minds are constantly processing information, we never get a chance to let our our imagination develop. If we don’t allow for this we will build societies and social structures devoid of critical and creative thinking. These both require imagination.

Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin writes in his 2014 book, The Organized Mind:
Artists recontextualize reality and offer visions that were previously invisible. Creativity engages the brain’s daydreaming mode directly and stimulates the free flow and association of ideas, forging links between concepts and neural modes that might not otherwise be made”.
You're invited to engage in a mindful art project and share your art in our community and find like minded pilgrims seeking to better develop imagination. You don't need any experience. None. Just curiosity. Look over and see what's in the book.
Aboriginal Australians have long been revered for their imaginative abilities. From art, to symbolism, the Dreamtime and metaphor. Dorsey Smith a Dhungutti and  Gumbangiir man leads you through V8_The Lily and the Billabong with images for you to work with and Kelly-Ann Denton guides you through a visualisation to help you connect with your visual mind.
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• https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-04/tuod-aoi041119.php
•• https://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015331