Mental gear change


Well-Known Member
Something that JANATHOME said in another thread yesterday got me thinking about this... Do you come to your lesson directly from work, or some other non-dance related activity? For a long time I was coming to lessons directly from work, and it always took me a few minutes to get into the groove at the start of a lesson. It was partly physical; although I try to get up and walk around some during the day, I'm still sitting at a desk for most of the day; my muscles are stiff, and my back and my legs are tight. And I've been staring at a computer screen, so my eyes have been in close-focus mode all day. But the other part is mental; I've been doing stuff that doesn't exercise those parts of my brain that have to do with rhythm or movement or anything kinesthetic other than using my hands. I used to always ask my instructor if we could start the lesson with a round or two of waltz, and I'd ask her not to judge my progress by that round -- I just needed to do it to re-tune my mental focus, plus getting physically loosened up.

Right now, I kind of have the opposite problem. We have a later start time for our lessons now, and I usually have time to get to the studio, watch some video, and get warmed up and dialed in before lesson time. My partner, on the other hand, is in a stressful situation at work right now; oftentimes she is "coming in on horseback" right at lesson start time, where she barely has time to change shoes before we're on the floor. And now I know what my old instructor must have been experiencing with me, because I can see in her eyes and feel in her dancing the process that she's going through for the first few minutes to get re-centered. I feel bad for her, but there isn't much I can do, other than to be there and be ready to dance.

So if you're in this situation, do you find it difficult to make the mental transition at the start of a lesson? What process do you have to go through, and how long does it take before you feel like you are "all there"?
Yes!!! A stressful, demanding day really does take its toll. One of the best ways to quiet and re-orient my brain has been to listen to soft and calming but rhythmically complex music on the way to lessons--something that requires attention but doesn't hammer my already battered brain. Particular rhythms seem to be especially useful for recalibrating my spastic mode.

Ultimately it's just kind of frustrating to arrive with all the day's mental garbage clinging to me when that's the last thing I want to share with the studio. I do think it's helpful to acknowledge that we're human, that it's perfectly normal, etc., and then to mindfully work on developing the mental resiliency to bounce back more quickly and with greater ease. By the way, I love this question because it's so true of life that we don't do anything in a vacuum. Just gotta roll with it sometimes!

Mr 4 styles

Well-Known Member
There is a fifteen minute rule in counseling used. For example. Coming home from work and spouse fires a bunch of questions at you. You need fifteen minutes to transition your brain. I use the ride in the car to do this but some peeps need to be in the new spot to start transitioning. This is a good rule of thumb.

Physical prep is a different story. If I'm coming straight from work I just stretch my legs and do 50 burpees and I'm ready to dance. Heart rate up a bit ,mind clear. Let's do this !!


Well-Known Member
I try to schedule my lessons when I'm not working. I've noticed a big difference if I dance after a long day at work vs on my off day. If I do dance after work, I remind myself that I'm not going to be as 'on' so that I don't worry. In general, I find I worry less anyway. The nice thing about doing this for awhile is that even if I can't get something right away, I know that I eventually will. I trust the process more.


Well-Known Member
I listen to classical music and drive rather casually. The tricked out crapcans can slalom through the traffic at 25 over - Ok by me.
Ha -- I'd find the slaloming to be stress-relieving, actually. But thinks to major construction on the main artery through this end of town, there is no slaloming. Or much of any other kind of movement.

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