Have you ever played with a flashlight that has a focusing bezel? So you can broaden the light beam to light up a large area, or focus it sharply on an object? The wide beam is dimmer, and the focused beam is brighter. The wide beam gives you more area, and the focused beam gives you more detail. With our incredible minds, we have that power of perception as well. The wider our attention, the more we take in but with less detail. But the magic is in the details and the more we focus our attention, the more creation opens up to us.
To achieve anything extraordinary, the ability to focus is key. Just consider any elite athlete or groundbreaking scientist. Their achievements are a testament to their ability to focus absolutely. That word “focus” itself is probably the single most word used by a coach. On the flip side, if you survey the average person on the street, they will lament over their lack of ability to focus. Many people see themselves as scatter-brained, and of course we have the various attention deficit diagnoses that are rampant amongst the populous.
If we are willing, the power of attention and focus can be cultivated. And it is absolutely essential if we want our awareness to expand. It is a practice using the mind that can take us out of the mind, and into higher states of perception. Pure focusing without analysis, pure observation without judgements and preconceptions, that is the key. The problem is that we assume we know, so our attention is always far too shallow. In every moment, paying attention as if we did not know anything, that is what removes the mind-filter and allows existence to flow into our awareness naturally.
Applying the skill of observation without discrimination can be applied to any area of life. We can view actual objects with that lens, or subtler things like our relationships and our inner experience as well. The mind is designed to classify things, even when we look at a dog versus an ant – the mind discriminates between the two, but pure awareness simply sees life unfolding. Similarly, when we view relationships, the mind discriminates between someone we like and another we dislike, but pure awareness simply sees flows of different energies, neither is favored over the other. Going deeper, the mind sees itself and claims it, and the body it inhabits, as itself. But pure awareness simply sees that there is awareness, and everything rises within that, even the body and mind.
There are practices that enhance one’s attentive abilities of perception. For example, if you sit comfortably with eyes closed, and just quietly note what you observe. At first that may be external sensations but move within and note what is going on within the body, getting ever more subtle. If you can sustain this for extended periods approaching an hour, you will begin moving from the body to an inner space. Exploring this innermost landscape can be a profound experience, and it has always been there waiting for you to look!
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