The downtime and uptime of the attentive mind
In NLP there are two states of attention called downtime and uptime.
Downtime is when we are focusing our attention on our internal
drift in and out of downtime all the time. When we are reading something
and we haven’t taken the text in at all as we have been focusing on
something else in our minds. It is an unconscious process, we don’t
really have control of it unless we become conscious of it.
Uptime is when we are concentrating on the external world. When we need
to focus on driving a road we don’t know, we are in uptime. Our
thoughts tend not to drift internally when we need to concentrate on something.
The importance of downtime and uptime is that we can balance them by becoming
conscious of our attention. The benefit to you is that you can
become more focused in the external world (uptime) and more relaxed in your
internal world (downtime).
After an argument, do you ever have conversations in your head, about what
you could have said to that person if you were calmer or had been a little
more quick witted? We all have thoughts like this every day. I was driving
down to work the other day when another driver cut in front of me, I then proceeded
to think of a whole scenario whereby I had an argument with the driver, what
I would say, what he would say, the police getting involved, how my wife would
feel, how the kids would react…….it was crazy. I had a
full blown argument in my head, I felt the emotions, I saw the outcomes of
different scenes and I put myself into a state of anger all because someone
had cut in front of me. From that one event I wasted so much energy,
wasted time thinking about what might have happened, put myself into a bad
mood, and it could have been such a shit day had I not caught myself in time. I
thought of something happy in my life and quickly changed the state, but you
can see how being in downtime when we should be in uptime can change us.
If we are focused and make ourselves aware of what we are
doing at any particular moment we can learn to concentrate better and have
a more productive life. In
buddhism this is called ‘being in the moment’ or ‘mindfulness’.
Becoming more focused in uptime
- To start becoming more focused take it a step at a time. For
the next week make a point to become aware of your surroundings on the
hour every waking hour. So for example your are in the office and
O’Clock become aware of your surroundings. Become aware of
the people sitting next to you, become aware of the caller you are speaking
to, their voice, their tone, their state. Just try and take in everything
around you and notice little things like the colour of the poster on the
wall, the smell in the office. This will kickstart your uptime focussing.
- After 2 or 3 weeks of general focussing become more
what people are wearing from day to day, notice their hairstyles, notice
their moods, notice the changes in the office. Also begin to notice
your thoughts at any given moment, how are you feeling? Don’t question
it, just notice it. Pretty soon you will start to see patterns in your
thinking. You are happier around particular people, you are happier
at a particular time of day.
- After another 2-3 weeks focus on the job your are doing. If you are
a plumber, notice the tools you are using and how they are used, concentrate
of every turn of the wrench, listen to your breathing as you are working,
every time your thoughts drift internally pull them back to the moment. It
can help to say out loud or internally what you are doing: “ I am typing
on my keyboard”, “ I am driving to work, I can see a blue car
in front of me” etc
- Over time you will become much more used to being mindful
and it will happen automatically. However do not get complacent,
every now and again remind yourself to be in the moment.
Being more relaxed in downtime
- By being more aware and concentrating more in uptime
you will automatically become more relaxed in downtime. Ultimate downtime is sleeping and
you will find your sleep is deeper therefore you are more relaxed
and refreshed in the morning.
- Also practicing simple meditation will greatly enhance
your downtime and life in general. 15 minutes per day in downtime
meditation will greatly enhance your concentration, focus, visualisation,
law of attraction and your life in general.
- I listen to guided meditations for my downtime meditation and use it in
the morning and afternoon.
- Take downtime breaks at work. As I am out in the car visiting clients
a lot of the time I take a few 10 minute breaks on a hill overlooking countryside
and it’s great just to sit there and look out. I find it refreshes
my mind and prepares me for the next few hours ahead.
Downtime and uptime go hand in hand and you can greatly enhance
your life if you practice focused mindful uptime and more relaxing downtime. Why
not try it for 21
days and make it a habit or just let it go if it doesn’t work for