Circles of Concentration

Thinking can be circular. We can have circles of concentration. The mind can be focused in such a way that we isolate other non-relevant thoughts and we can put our attention or “mind” on a particular matter, enabling us to think clearly and deeply about the subject.

Note that the human mind can only think about one thing at a time. The mind’s projections are like a spotlight. We may focus on that light, but not another at the same time.

Role: A street level drug dealer, mid twenties, male.

The circumstance: He just picked up a supply of marijuana–not too much, but enough for him to do jail time. He has it in his backpack, which he wears on his back. He walks out of the suppliers apartment, down the stairs and into the busy streets of New York City.

His heart is racing.
Circle of thought: His heart.
Small circle.

He thinks about the fact that he has a pound of marijuana in his backpack.
Circle of thought: Marijuana in backpack
Medium/Small circle.

He orientates himself into the flow of street traffic. He thinks, “The subway is that way’.
Circle of thought: Exit.
Large circle

The subway is towards safety, the safety of his home.
Circle of thought: Home
Very large circle

He thinks to himself, “If I get caught, I am going to jail”
Circle of thought: What jail will be like
Circles sizes vary

He thinks to himself, “My girlfriend is three months pregnant”.
Circle of thought: Love of his family.
Circle size can vary, originates from heart

He thinks of the loss of his family
Circle of thought: Quiet, lovely moments with his wife and child.
Circles size can vary

He sees a policeman, who is looking at him from the other side of the street. His heart begins to race.
Circle of thought: Heart
Circle size: small

He sees the policeman’s gun
Circle of thought: Gun
Circle size: medium

He takes a deep breath and casually walks across the street and passes the policeman,  thinking only of his girlfriend and coming child.
Circle of thought:
Circle size: Large, stemming from heart

You can also think of these circles as “circles of concentration” or “minding”. Where are you placing your mind at any given moment, knowing that it can only focus on one thing at a time? If you are performing, are you thinking about all that you have developed? Are you focused on playing your technique and “minding” the other performers or are you thinking about the audience and if the casting director you invited might be out there? By learning to control our circles of thought, we can mind things that we choose to mind and better keep ourselves from becoming distracted.

We can, with practice, learn to so focus our minds that we can better control our circles of thought. However, this practice of technique is, like the imagination, a muscle and must be regularly exercised to be useful when called upon.

Remember the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time. This is useful information. Knowing this, we can concentrate more deeply and fully.

Jim Hart 


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