MECHANICS OF ATTENTION

When I worked on editing videos (back before the days of computer editing), there were four video monitors in front of me on a shelf. My eyes were glued to those monitors as I edited. Monitors have raster lines. These are the lines between the rows of pixels. After I would leave an editing session, those raster lines would be imprinted on my vision. I saw those lines for the rest of the day.
Our attention works by certain mechanical principles. A human being is capable of using the mind (attention) in many modes. Yet most people’s minds work in a very limited set of mechanics, usually only one set. The reason for this is that our culture, including upbringing, media etc. imprint a particular mechanic of attention on our minds. It is the only mode of using the mind that we know. This mode is like the raster lines of the monitors and affects how we perceive the world around us.
In this mode, we can only pay attention to one thing at a time. This is the thinking mode, in which one thought follows another. We have reduced our thinking mechanism to a digital system of “on and off”. This thinking mechanism then affects how our bodies work.
This is evident when we practice Push Hands. At first, the student can only pay attention to one small movement at a time. Then he has to learn to pay attention to the left and the right side at the same time. This forces him to be aware of the relationship between the right and left sides so that he uses one side to set up the other side. Once he is aware of this relationship, he can free himself from digital attention.
In Taoism the saying is that, “The one begets the two. The two begets the three. And the three begets the ten thousand things”. At first the attention is single pointed. Then you become aware of two things at the same time. Then you are aware of the relationship between the two. This relationship is the third thing. From then on you should be able to be aware of, and respond to, many things at the same time.
It is absurd that we use single pointed (one dimensional) attention to perceive a three dimensional world (or four dimensions including time). I call the three dimensional type of attention, “holographic attention”. It is like a field of attention, or a spider’s web, which can sense a whole area or volume at the same time.
The attention is not diffused by this. The student learns to strengthen each point on that web so that it is as strong as his whole attention was before beginning this training. The stronger and more inclusive your attention, the larger the world you can perceive.
This increase in what you perceive as you are paying attention to something, constitutes another dimension (if width, length, height and time are the first four dimensions). In ancient times, this dimension was called, “the spirit world”. One step in developing this awareness is to realize that our attention emanates mostly from the front of the head (because that is where our eyes are located). The student learns to allow attention to flow out all sides of him so that he is surrounded by a sphere of attention. This is really the natural state of a human being, but we have lost the full power of our attention. Furthermore, the attention does not emanate just from the head but from the whole body and information then flows back in to the body.
Attention, in this way, is like a drop of ink in a bowl of water. If you were to swirl the water, you could see the activity of the water by watching the movement of the colored ink Attention is released from the body and you can perceive how it is affected by the surroundings. Attention is used like a kite. You can feel the tug of the wind by holding the string of the kite.
Releasing yet maintaining a connection to the attention is a skill that takes many years. Developing fine resolution of the information coming back to you takes more years. That is why few people practice these skills. They constitute the basis of the Zookinesis practice. The goal of Zookinesis is to become completely connected to the natural environment and to be fully creative in your life with access to the full use of attention.
When the body becomes connected to nature in this way, it stays healthy and vigorous throughout your life. Each part of the body becomes aware and you feel completely alive. You also become aware of the dynamics of attention in other people and other living things. You develop the senses of the dynamics of attention and of chi (the biological energy connecting all living things). The world you perceive is fuller and makes more sense. This training is more fully explained in my books, “Movements of Magic”, “Movements of Power” and the adventure novel, “The Doubting Snake”.
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