Want to Attain Better Focus and Creativity, Breath, Baby, Breath!

Drawing by Tony Brent

I tend to be selective about who I take advice from when it comes to creativity, attaining better focus, stress relief, and the like. I’ve found that one of the terrific aspects of Medium is the wealth of knowledge and the varying viewpoints available to us here. I try to decipher if the writer of an article which I’m reading has walked the walk and is not just talking the talk when suggesting ideas which may, or may not, enrich my life in some way.

Here is a little background on myself so you can determine if I’m worthy of you continuing reading and taking to heart anything that I am eventually going to suggest.

I have worked in the entertainment field full-time since 1992 as a comedian, actor, magician, and writer. For the past nearly nineteen years, I have produced and performed in the “Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show” in Orlando, Florida. Although it hasn’t led to worldwide fame, since you probably have no idea who I am, I am currently living a beautiful life, I am not forced to travel for my job, I’m happy, treated very well, and have provided well for my family.

In my tiny niche of the entertainment industry, which is a magic comedy dinner show, it is paramount that I stay current and continuously update and even reinvent myself when changes happen in the culture. Creativity is a necessity for me because I do not have the budget to compete with the likes of Disney, Universal, SeaWorld and the many other multi-billion dollar companies which are located just a few miles from me. Early on, I realized I had to take a different approach, which would not rely on millions of dollars, flash, and advertising to create a buzz about our business and hopefully repeat customers.

The approach which I settled upon involves me doing things on my own, writing original material and build props and set pieces if it falls within my skill set. Because I live and work in a bustling tourist town, I have to cater to the masses from all walks of life and every corner of the world. Also, I do not have a director or a “team” of any kind, other than my wife and kids who occasionally give me advice. I do have an assistant named “Ruby,” but since she is a mannequin, she rarely provides information.

Then, What’s The Problem?

Dealing with burn out is a major issue with me. I have performed thousands of shows during my tenure in Orlando, so many in fact, that I must continuously stay self-aware of whether or not I’m reaching the point of “hitting the wall,” to use the runner’s term. You may have seen live shows when the performers look like they are phoning in their performance? Most likely, they have hit the wall and are burnt out. Performers and entertainers are human beings and live shows take a toll, not only on the body, more importantly, the mind. After a time, performing the same show becomes monotonous, and one needs to find a way to make it fresh again. I tend to slip and slide into and out of dry spells, bouts of depression, and bursts of creativity, most likely, possibly just like you. The way I attempt to deal with burnout is to try to keep the show fresh and to do so, that means I need to find new ways to flex my mental muscles.

What to Do?

Drawing by Tony Brent

Meditate. I’ve found that ten-minute blocks of meditation once or twice daily has dramatically increased my creative juices. The mind is like a drunken monkey, scatted, and out of control. The mind races from one thought to the next, which fights against your ability to control stress and maintain your concentration. I use a free app called Insight Timer; it offers guided, self-guided meditations, and music to listen to while relaxing, meditating, or trying to drift off to sleep. For years, I ignored the idea of meditation and wrote it off as something that “wasn’t for me.” I didn’t understand the real benefits, although I had read that there are so many. The beauty of meditation is that there is no wrong way to do it. You cannot fail.

The Beginning of my Journey

Just by attempting mediation, I began to see results. Firstly, I started to understand just how quickly my mind wanders, which, in turn, caused me to realize how much I needed to rein in my brain. I set the Insight Timer to ten minutes and found a straight back chair, in a quiet place alone. I didn’t even allow our dogs to be in the room with me.

Often, in the beginning, I could barely get through the ten minutes, and sometimes, I still can’t, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have benefits. I began to have creative flashes in my sleep while driving, eating, and various other times during the day, but never while meditating. And that is the point, during meditation, the mind is allowed to halt those and the twenty million other random thoughts that are racing through your brain.

That reboot, that, taming the drunken monkey does something remarkable to your mind. So amazing in fact, that science has yet to determine why or how it works, and since it doesn’t allow for hard, quantitive data, many have dismissed meditation as some mystical hocus-pocus, even though the ancients have known about and praised meditation since the dawn of recorded history.

I know you’re familiar with the basics of meditation, and it may seem silly or rudimentary to you, and if that’s the case, may I suggest you do some research. The following are a few links to articles found here on Medium:


Three mind control exercises that are more vivid than meditation
Whether you think it’s all mumbo woo-woo or not, many people, including myself, have seen their lives change by…medium.com


Nothing Worked for My Depression — Until I Tried Meditation
I was often caught in a negative thought loop: Was I doing well at work? Is the economy going to crash? The more I…medium.com


Meditation Is More Complex Than Science Suggests
How can scientists study the effectiveness of meditation without comprehending its focus?medium.com


Something magical is happening in the meditation space.
Twelve months ago, we started the long journey towards becoming a sustainable company. Our business plan says we have…medium.com

You may wonder how could meditation possibly help me if I’m not in a creative field, or I don’t consider myself a creative person. My answer to that is, we can all benefit from being more “self-aware,” can’t we?

Meditation has helped me see aspects of myself, which I was unaware. It has made me aware of my surroundings and my lifestyle, which in turn has led me to be more grateful for what I have.

I began to see results after about a week of doing two, ten-minute sessions a day. Give it a shot, and please let me know if you see a difference.

Lips, Lips, and Lips

The tight lips of a person crossing a busy street, pretending not to notice the tons of oncoming traffic headed toward them which could have crushed their tiny, thin lips had they not slowed down.

Lips of a restaurant patron, who is 99% sure they are going to ask to speak with the manager, even though they haven’t been seated yet.

The smug lips you see in your rearview mirror of a person driving a BMW M5 G-Power Hurricane CS. He, (it’s always a “he”), is going to pass you very soon, very fast.

The lips of an old man who thinks the world has gone to hell-in-a-handbasket. He thinks there’s a little too much technology and not enough racism left in the world.


The lips of a teenage girl when phone battery is at 7%.

Chicken Lips.

Lips eating chicken.

Lip balm container lip.

One Day

One day, we’ll know social media for what it is,

An engine which exists to sell us a thing,

One day, we’ll know work for what it usually is,

The mostly-lie which society used to keep us from living,

A precious few see through that veil,

God bless them and keep them well.

Lights.

Lamps, torches, flashlights,

40 watts, 60, 75,

illuminate the way for the eyes,

but, what about the unseen?

The hidden even a floodlight can’t reveal.

That particular brightness comes from somewhere else,no filament, glass or electricity needed. Instead,

a kind heart to be heeded.

Money is Never Free

Money is never free,

chasing it comes with a cost,

is what you gain, worth what you’ve lost?

The missed date,

daughter’s recital,

you were too late,

son’s soccer game,

you were on a plane.

You worry yourself ill,

closing the next deal,

step back and ask,

am I allowing my cash desires to ruin precious time with others?

And Then What?

You were born and then what?

You learned to crawl and then what?

You learned to say “mama” and “dada” and then what?

You took your first steps and then what?

It was the first day of school and then what?

It was the last day of school and then what?

You met the person of your dreams and then what?

You started a family and then what?

You started your career and worked until you retired and then what?

The kids moved out and then what?

You and your partner spend time maintaining the lawn and then what?

Going…Going

It was there,

then, it was gone,

leaving behind mere fragments,

I’m talking about your memory, mother.

It seemed to occur out of the blue,

but I can’t share that,

it would upset you.

You blamed it on old age,

but, things began to change,

It’s called “looping” I heard the doctor say,

That’s why you repeat things 98 times a day,

I answer your questions, nod and agree,

while I watch Alzheimer’s slowly take you away from me.

Clock Hands

The clock hands wave to the past on their way to high-five the future,

stopping to shake hands with the six and the three.

They can’t stay but a second, because they’ve got somewhere else to be.

“Idle hands are the devil’s playthings” they must have been taught,

I say pull out the battery and let’s talk.

Dangerous Theater

Chests are puffed out,

spines stand straighter,

threats are spewed

in this dangerous theater.

The brat fakes throwing a stone,

to intimidate another,

keeping others off guard

in this dangerous theater.

And, the play continues,

since the days of Mesopotamia,

the brat has no issue with spilling blood

all over this dangerous theater.

Bombs bullets and pain,

triggered by a brat’s signature,

spell the death of so many

in this dangerous theater.