Spatial thinking: screen use

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on April 22, 2020 in Uncategorized

Most of us are working, socializing, teaching and learning via electronic devices instead of in shared actual space. The increase in screen time brings new demands to the use of the instrument of self.

With our Alexander tools of refined intention and attention, we can find new means to rise to these increased demands. While I am teaching online Alexander lessons, I notice an urgency to teach well and to provide some shred of normalcy in these abnormal times. Urgency easily tilts to end gaining, as I crane toward the screen, and reach for sound and vision. By narrowing my attention to reach for sound and vision, I tire myself and diminish an overall elastic response.

Dynamic pauses are thus needed for me to have best use of self in my problem solving/teaching mode. I remind myself of the room around me, the floor under my feet, chair under my sitting bones, the wave of breath that supports and enlivens me. The sound may come from speakers, but it comes via vibrations to my ears and brain. I don’t have to go fetch it. Watching my student on the screen easily tires my eyes until I remember that light waves come through the lenses of my eyes and are interpreted by my deeper brain into vision. The more frequently I think of my whole integrated back “seeing”, the less tired my eyes become. I receive and welcome instead of yearning and straining.

These intentions require frequent micro moments when I prioritize a welcoming curiosity to straining at the expense of ease. If I softly include the room around me, the view from my office window (dogwood nearly in bloom), the sounds of scrub jays in the court yard while I listen to and watch my student, my eyes, hearing and voice work less and receive broader support. Solutions arise with an ease that is sometimes surprising, as though I didn’t think of them, they thought themselves. All I did was get out of the way.

The screen may be a necessary interface for now, but we can continue to refine our own means as we use the screen. We have choices in our spatial attention that potentially improve our condition of self, and thus our problem solving skills. We can decide what we want, then make the relevant choices. We can’t change current demands, but we can allow ourselves the time to change responses.