Boots on the Ground in Tucson: What Captures Your Attention Captures Your Life

Doc’s note: I’m in Tucson, Arizona, wrapping up the last day of our Stansberry Immersion Week at Canyon Ranch. We’ve spent this week gazing at the mountains, taking fitness tests, meditating, and attending lectures from some of the brightest minds in the world of holistic, integrative health.

Today, my researcher Amanda Cuocci wants to share one of several key lessons she’s learned here, and I think it’s one that resonates with many of us. Here’s her “boots on the ground” report from the Ranch.

What captures your attention captures your life.

I’m paraphrasing here, but this statement really hit home for me. I had been so busy helping to coordinate all the logistics for the Immersion Week that I had failed to really think about how I was spending my time and energy.

The week opened with talks from each of the Wellness Architects™ here at the Ranch. We heard from two medical doctors, a nutritionist, an exercise physiologist, a life management therapist, and a spiritual wellness director.

Each one spoke about how cultivating one part of your life could improve and build your whole self.

Our Health & Wealth Bulletin readers are familiar with topics we’ve been hearing about all week…

  • Cancer prevention
  • Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Epigenetics – how lifestyle affects our genetic predispositions
  • Inflammation
  • Mindfulness and meditation
  • Sleep

But one topic stuck out for me this trip. It was about our fractured attention spans. Specifically, it looked at our time spent on devices.

Canyon Ranch is a “device free” place. That means your phone stays on silent. You can take calls in a handful of tucked away cell-phone areas or in your room, but that’s it. They even give you a bag to put your phone in.

If you’re here with us at the Ranch, you might have noticed that some of our staff have had a hard time unplugging. You’ve likely seen us at the staff table, clicking away on our laptops and texting on our phones. We’re catching up on e-mails, texting Ranch staff to try and sort out an issue, or communicating with our coworkers back in Baltimore about a project or deadline we need to meet.

But as the week has progressed, I’ve noticed that we’re trying to be more conscious of this time.

I keep thinking about the gurus that spoke on Tuesday morning. They asked us to write down the following:

1. Three things you spend the most attention on.
2. Five things you wish you could pay the most attention to.
3. Three things that keep you from focusing on those five things.

Then I heard those words – what captures your attention captures your life.

Do you want to spend your life worrying about work e-mails and social media? Of course not. For me and a few others who raised their hands, these were big distractors. And the culprit? Our portable, always-connected, always-buzzing cell phones.

Doc has written so many times about mindfulness. Putting your phone away is a great start for that practice. But more than that, let’s make an effort to get away from that technology.

Screens like those on our phones, computers, TVs, and tablets all emit blue light. We know that this light disrupts our sleep cycles. And not getting enough good-quality sleep leads to a host of medical issues, including higher risk for Alzheimer’s.

We’ve also seen that increased screen time correlates with depression. If we’re lonely, we might turn to social media… which in turn could drive more depression.

Putting your phone away also means you can connect more – both with other people and with nature. That means you’ll enjoy your walks and your exercise more. It also means you’ll (hopefully) get away from a more sedentary lifestyle. If you can’t sit and veg in front of the TV at night, use that time to do something else… preferably something active.

A sedentary lifestyle, as the folks here keep saying, increases risk of heart disease, cancer, and other illnesses.

I’ve noticed that some folks started to put their phones away more. They’re paying attention to their health and the week here at the Ranch. And it’s come with noticeable increases in mood.

I am going to keep the “unplugged” rule going when I get home. I hope you’ll give it a try as well, maybe with a “device free” night once a week to start. Your mind and body will enjoy getting your attention back.

What We’re Reading…

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig with Amanda Cuocci
Tucson, Arizona
February 27, 2020