When you read this text your attention will be focused on the letters. You might even feel some of the focus that comes with this. Attention works a bit like a flashlight…
When you read this text your attention will be focused on the letters. You might even feel some of the focus that comes with this. Attention works a bit like a flashlight or, more accurately, a zoom lens on a camera. When you read this text the lens zooms in and your attention narrows to focus on the letters and words. Your attention is not preoccupied with your surroundings, your body or your feet, for example.
Attention is like a flexible motion, one that can take you anywhere you like. If I ask you to switch your attention to your feet, you can do so instantly. However, keeping your attention there and focusing your lens on your feet is more difficult. That requires a bit more energy. Try focusing your attention on your breathing, to feel how you breathe in and out. Doing this for just a few minutes will quickly demonstrate just how difficult it can be to keep your attention focused on one thing and one thing only.
Attention usually involves an unconscious kind of motion. It is chaotic and haphazard, and it tends to jump from one thing to the next. It continually follows your experiences, one after the other. It follows your thoughts, your physical sensations, your senses. In fact, we are often nothing more than the plaything of our experiences and attention.
An experience will attract your attention like a magnet. Your attention becomes one with the experience and we refer to this as identification. Becoming absorbed in your experiences creates the feeling of an ‘I’ and a ‘me’ that is the subject of those experiences. This way of dealing with our experiences has become so normal to us and is so automatic and unconscious that we simply don’t know any better.
Becoming absorbed in an experience is a motion that is externally oriented, one that takes you away from yourself. Meditation allows you to turn your attention inwards again. If you turn your attention to your inner self fully and completely, you will feel the focus vanishing and the lens withdrawing. Attention becomes absorbed in Being, in a oneness with that Being, in what you really are.