Headspace: Personal Analogies

Discussion of the art and craft of improvisation.

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Postby Spots » March 18th, 2011, 11:21 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
Spots wrote:There IS a conscious partition between the L&R brains for me,


also, a corpus collosum. ;)


I think we'll find that the left and right hemispheres don't directly map to what we associate with right and left brain. I've always seen "left brain" to be more of an abstraction than "left hemisphere". Certainly there is something to the grouping of traits and abilities but as we learn more about the brain I feel it will become a misnomer.

Interesting you mentioned the corpus collosum because I was reading about people with disorders who purposefully had theirs severed, and this resulted in a removal of symptoms. I'll have to find the bit of writing and qualify this later...
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Postby mpbrockman » March 18th, 2011, 11:32 am

ratliff wrote:It reminds me of when people talk about your work by saying, "I wish I could do that; I'm not creative." They think they're paying a compliment, but what they're inadvertently doing is suggesting that you were just born with this ability, as opposed to the truth (for most of us), which is that we had to work pretty hard to develop it.


As someone recently said, "yeah. this. always this. a hundred times this".

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:(sorry to ramble...this was actually a slight epiphany for me)


Will you be following this up with a slight Lent?

ratliff wrote:...a) ...b)...


It's the internet, the internet which does this! All visual stimuli and other cues to meaning have been sucked into the maw! All hands abandon ship, everyone for themselves, screw "ladies first" - then head for the lifeboats.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 18th, 2011, 11:36 am

Spots wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:
Spots wrote:There IS a conscious partition between the L&R brains for me,


also, a corpus collosum. ;)


I think we'll find that the left and right hemispheres don't directly map to what we associate with right and left brain. I've always seen "left brain" to be more of an abstraction than "left hemisphere". Certainly there is something to the grouping of traits and abilities but as we learn more about the brain I feel it will become a misnomer.

Interesting you mentioned the corpus collosum because I was reading about people with disorders who purposefully had theirs severed, and this resulted in a removal of symptoms. I'll have to find the bit of writing and qualify this later...


gah! corpus cAllosum...sorry about that. stupid Latin. need to bone up on my anatomy and physiology. ;)

it fascinates me a lot...we watched a video in my psychology class in high school of a man who'd had his removed. they gave him a picture of an orange in his right hand and asked him what it was. "Orange." they put the same picture in his left hand. "Um..." then they put the word orange on a card in his right hand. "Um..." then in his left hand. "Orange."

he could function just fine, and both sides of his brain were capable of processing information. but they couldn't communicate with each other anymore. whereas it feels like mine are locked in a constant heated debate. ;)
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Postby mpbrockman » March 18th, 2011, 11:36 am

Spots wrote:Interesting you mentioned the corpus collosum because I was reading about people with disorders who purposefully had theirs severed, and this resulted in a removal of symptoms. I'll have to find the bit of writing and qualify this later...


I think they do this most often in the case of epilepsy and other a few other seizure producing disorders, but no-one's really sure why it works.
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » March 18th, 2011, 11:37 am

mpbrockman wrote:
Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:(sorry to ramble...this was actually a slight epiphany for me)


Will you be following this up with a slight Lent?


yeah, then probably a light side Pentecost. gotta watch my figure...
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Postby Spots » March 18th, 2011, 2:20 pm

mpbrockman wrote:
Spots wrote: who purposefully had theirs severed, and this resulted in a removal of symptoms.


I think they do this most often in the case of epilepsy and other a few other seizure producing disorders, but no-one's really sure why it works.



Dead on the money, Brockman. That's what I had read. Epilepsy or such disorders where a feedback loop was cluttering up stimuli between the two hemispheres. By severing the callosum the crippling feedback loop was removed.

So damn fascinating. But you have to wonder if this caused idiosyncratic changes in the subject, if not larger effects.
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Postby JediImprov » April 10th, 2011, 2:16 am

Ok, so I am majorly the rookie here on levels that render me primordial ooze, so as ooze boy, - well, ooze man, and as a huge fan of John's teachings- but yet something about this topic resonates with me, I have to thus wonder something with regards to Jesse's post.

Are you speaking in terms of your "pre-show" head space, or your "during show" head space, or are you on a whole cosmic level that would screw up even Carl Sagan? Did I spell that right?

My single biggest struggle is the nature of my work is such that is it VERY intellectually intense, very very much so, over the top. Coming down is very hard for me in the best of circumstances, without improv, thus making the "transition" into Improv Headspace has been about as smooth as running through cactus naked.

Ive been putting a lot of thought into this whole notion of developing a "before" class, "before" a show- "place" to lessen the abruptness of said transitions.

What kind of Jedi trance could I go into, meditative, something tangible-- that at least would "opens up my spirit" (cheesy- dont know what else to call it) FAR MORE then how I arrive now? Dont know if that is at all what you meant, but I would be curious if anyone else struggles with this and thus has an "approach' for a "pre show" or "pre class" transitioning of one's brain so it can let go.

Very hard for me right now.
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Postby Spots » April 10th, 2011, 4:05 am

JediImprov wrote:What kind of Jedi trance could I go into... an approach for a pre show or pre class transitioning of one's brain so it can let go.

Very hard for me right now.



Trust is a sort of trance, isn't it? You have these troupe or class mates that make you feel warm and fuzzy. And you just sort of wrap yourself up in their warm-fuzziness.

Experience will get you there but maybe there's a shortcut in there somewhere if you take the focus off yourself and enchant yourself with those around you.
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Postby ratliff » April 10th, 2011, 8:55 am

JediImprov wrote:What kind of Jedi trance could I go into, meditative, something tangible-- that at least would "opens up my spirit" (cheesy- dont know what else to call it) FAR MORE then how I arrive now? Dont know if that is at all what you meant, but I would be curious if anyone else struggles with this and thus has an "approach' for a "pre show" or "pre class" transitioning of one's brain so it can let go.


There are a lot of techniques for this, from many different disciplines and traditions. And almost none of them come from your rational brain. Your rational brain does not want your shirt open. Your rational brain wants to maintain its control of the situation, and it'll come up with a million plausible explanations as to why that's a good idea. If you want to open up, you have to get out of your brain, in my experience; hence my nitpicky semantic objection to the term "headspace."

I'd start experimenting and pursue only those exercises that really resonate with you, since only you can say what works and what doesn't.

Random suggestions:
    Do what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls a "full body scan," gradually directing your attention to each part of your body in turn and really becoming aware of how you physically feel, which a lot of us tend to ignore most of the time. This will get you back in your body and has the added advantage of oxygenation, since when you direct your conscious attention to a part of your body the capillaries dilate a little bit there.

    Stand facing your partner. With each person taking alternate numbers, count out loud to three over and over again (i.e., Player A: "one", Player B: "two," A: "three," B: "one," A: "two,", etc.). Hard part: you clap while your partner is saying his/her number. Once you have that down, you can change the pattern to "one-two-three one-two," move around the space, or make the counts higher. (If you're doing a repeating pattern, make sure the total number is odd so that it keeps changing against the back-and-forth of two players.)

    I got this one from Jastroch: play word association, but instead of thinking about a word and thinking of related words, you visualize the word and then make an association to something it reminds you of visually (e.g., you get the word "pickle," and seeing the warts on the pickle remind you of the skin of a frog, so you say "frog"). Take your time responding; sometimes you'll come up with a very clear picture and struggle to find the word(s) to describe it, which means you're doing it right. I think some people naturally play word association this way all the time, but for those of us who overconceptualize it's a useful way to get back to physical specifics.


David Hess and I use variations on the latter two to warm up, but again, they may not blow your skirt up. Just keep experimenting and paying attention to the results (hey! scientific method!) and with any luck you'll find things that work for you.
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Postby JediImprov » April 10th, 2011, 11:51 am

Good stuff, Gents.

I REALLY like this idea of becoming "enchanted" with my fellow players, using some visualizations on past "moments" in Improv that personify that experience, gently nudging myself into a world of enchantment and play.

I have always been a huge animation buff, from Cars to Monsters Inc, you name it- if its sappy, Disney and adults (especially parents) avoid it-- Im usually all over it. Going "there" visually, would be direct access to my playful side. I think that makes those lines of Business Bob vs Improv Bob more distinct and thus more trusting, more available.

Fun :)
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Postby Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell » April 11th, 2011, 12:18 am

different techniques work for different people. i need a little "alone time," and rely heavily on music to get in the right place/space/mood/whatever. also since i have a heavy background in (scripted) theatre, i depend on ritual/superstition a lot. realize what your limitations/boundaries are and figure out what works best to break those down.
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Postby mpbrockman » April 11th, 2011, 5:13 am

Rev. Jordan T. Maxwell wrote:different techniques work for different people. i need a little "alone time," ...


Likewise, I tend to like quiet before a show rather than noisy warm-ups. I use this time to try to clear my head of any and all music (difficult trick, that), but if I've got some song stuck in my head it's going to make an appearance in the show whether I want it to or not. Another way for me to reset the register is to set up a little early and play and/or sing whatever is running through my head - sometimes that clears it out.

I guess what works best for me though (although I really can't do it because it scares the hell out of the other performers) is to show up with barely enough time to get set up and dive into the show with no time to prepare or have any other thought it my head but "Made it (whew!) - here we go!" and hit the ground running.
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