Focused Awareness: Take It All In

eyes-of-imagination-dreams-can-come-true-31082845-1024-702Our first post will hone in on cultivating Focused Awareness. To be fully present is to be able to experience the moment. To be aware is to know what surrounds you. And to focus means to be able to point the lens of refined experience precisely and with clarity in the direction you have chosen.

What does the phrase “to be fully present” mean to you? Questions you might ask yourself in arriving at your own definitions may be:

What is it that I choose to give my time, energy and awareness to in my daily life?
How do I focus that awareness to inform my actions?
What is the outcome of that choice?
And, am I fully present in the receiving of that outcome?

These are just a few of the questions for consideration when crafting the intention of Focused awareness.

For the most part we are so conditioned in modern society to move at such a rapid pace that although we feel that we are progress issuing forward and taking its all in as we go along, the reality is that we are missing many of the simple high points of what being a physical and incarnate being hash to offer. We are in effect on auto pilot and asleep at the wheel!

Stop!

For me, the concept of being fully present involves engagement. Not simply occupying physical space, but bringing all of my awareness into that space and the time captured in that moment. This requires that I stop and allow the space of time to really see what surrounds. This giving pause enables me to incorporate sensorial experience; emotional response; mental analysis and allows me to formulate my next actions from a place of discernment and a focused intention about how to move next. This may seem like many steps to be taken in the singular moment of being presented with choice, but it is these singular moments that in accumulation form the foundation of our life experience.

Look!

Observation is our best friend when we are cultivating focused awareness. When we are in the act of observing we call upon a variety of related sensorial skills that stimulate the correct responses and reactions. Select a location where there will many people passing through that location. A coffee shop**, train station or mall are excellent places to observe. Then, just sit quietly taking in everything that surrounds you. As you scan all of the scenario, select a singular person or action to focus more definitively upon. Make note of as much of the detail as you can about what you have chosen as your point of focus. Make note of how you feel about what you are observing. What emotions are invoked? What thoughts are moving through the inventive mind? What memories (if any) may present themselves of yourself in a similar situation? Breathe into each and every identifier that passes through your being. When you are ready, shift your focus back to the entire picture once again.

Listen!

The next step in focused awareness is the act of listening and tuning into what information has been received. Some may consider this the intuitive self or being psychically active. The truth is that to some degree we all have the ability to perceive events and people that are not of this time line or corporeal existence. The key lies in the ability to tune out distraction and settle into that receptive state of being.

Listening to the inner voice of guidance is something we all actively engage in; whether it be the inner critic who tells us we are unworthy or the conscience that speaks up when moral dilemma looms large or the inner champion that encourages and pushes us to our greatness. Using this Inner listening is the informer that processes what we have been actively focused upon. When we make choice to be fully present in our lives, the inner voice has more to say because we are feeding it more to comment on.

Going back to the exercise of observation; after you have spent some time taking in all the information and detail of what you have directed your focus towards, silently retreat to your inner landscape. Breathe deeply calling forth a receptive ear and open mind to receive the deeper wisdom of the synthesized product of your experience. Listen for guidance and the relevance of what you experienced to your own life. Perhaps the lesson of what you have observed is one of being more cautious about what information your provide to a stranger. Perhaps the lesson was one of benevolence and seeing the direct impact of a kind word, charitable offering or soothing touch. Listen and learn from these experiences of full engagement.

Move!

The ultimate goal is one of movement and action. Whether we choose to be co-creators in the paths and subtle nuances that flow through our life, we continuously move in one way or another. To have focused intention as we move through our day means to respond, rather than re-act to what the present moment has to offer us.

In conclusion….

The steps I have outlined may seem daunting and like too much trouble to go through. You may also be thinking that the time it will take to be mindful and go through each will delay everything you do. And, to some degree you are correct. However, you have already been exercising your Focused Awareness simply in the reading of this post. You made choice to click on the link and then made further choice to turn your attention and time to reading it. And, hopefully those actions have set off a course of curiosity, debate and more in your response to what I have proposed. It is all a matter of choices made.

The aspiration is one of balancing and learning what is deserving of your careful dismantling of a given situation and what can pass through without further scrutiny. This discernment comes from the intentional practice of using a small increment of time to purposefully be fully focused and engaged; such as what I suggested in the observation models. The results are a more satisfying experience of everything in your life.

As example of one of the ways in which observation and application of Focused Awareness can open up the creative self, read through the writing indicated below. This entire experience and the poetic product was the result of 20 minutes!

** The Cost of Doing Business
This is a post I wrote in December of 2010 while sitting and observing at a Starbucks. Enjoy!

Next Post:
Time to Re-Think It
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Engaging the Senses: The Sense of Sight

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Image: Artist: Mirte Driessen

 

Part 2 of 5

The Sense of Sight

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, vision is:

the..“physiological process of distinguishing, usually by means of an organ such as the eye, the shapes and colors of objects.The Biological responses to stimulation by light, most often referring to the mechanism of vision.”

Your eyes are at work from the moment you wake up to the moment you close them to go to sleep. Everything we see is interpreted and categorized in accord with the spectrum and vibratory rate of the light emanating from said object. Through the gateway of the eyes the information is sent to your brain for processing, the neurological system responds to what is imprinted and the inner self becomes aware of what’s going on outside of and surrounding your physical body.

When looking at the varied learning styles, it has been proven that most people are visual learners. If you can provide something visual to support what is being learned the information will be processed more readily and easily with longer retention of that information. If, you also add a kinesthetic (movement or tactile sensation) component to that visual process, the entire body takes in the information; remembering the physiologic cues that enhanced the visual experience.

Observing the World Around You

It is through the sense of sight that we make our first judgment of a situation or thing. We then formulate an opinion which later plays out through newly informed action and the resultant decision-making about the information received. This process creates a data-base of information and stored images and if we engage our sense of vision in the most productive of ways, we will provoke an emotional response to what we see. Thereby, creating further pathways of stored information that can be drawn upon when encountering similar experiences. All of these actions are for the most part autonomic on their function. This is exemplified in the visceral reaction we may have to a certain image and we have no clue as to why this response occurs. On further examination, this image may represent one seen as a child that had negative emotions attached to it or even a movie that we don’t remember at the level of the conscious mind, but comes back as we reflect on possible triggers.

In this hurried pace of modern society many things go unnoticed. We see but we don’t truly process what we see and give space for allowing what we see to imprint more deeply on our consciousness. An excellent case in point is the visual offerings available within the public media. Violence abounds within this venue. After all, violence and sex sell. Many, however have become so numbed to these acts that they are no longer perceived with same visceral reaction that may have been engendered if this type of imagery were not so prevalent. If, however, we are bombarded with images of a loving and healing nature, our response to those in distress is generally motivated by the connectedness we may feel in relating to someone needing help and our own storehouse of positive and helpful imagery. It is for this reason that some, as they move forward on a humanity-centered spiritual path find it difficult to find entertainment in movies, music and books that are based upon less than humane acts. With the Summer fast upon us try looking with fresh eyes at the beauty of Nature that is blooming in its fullness.

We talked in the last post about the Sense of Smell. Remember to engage this sense as well. These go hand and hand in forming stronger memories.  I loved school and the imagery of Fall always triggers the anticipation and excitement  I had in selecting new school supplies. The chance encounters of a Fall smell (pumpkin, cinnamon, etc..) also stimulates images of shopping for those supplies, first days at school, etc..

The Inner Screen

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Some may consider the Inner Screen the space of imagination. This is the space of creation that we retreat to in the theater as we close our eyes during a piece of beautiful music and images gather on this inner screen creating the story or painting the abstracts of line and color that bring the vibrations heard to a space of visual life. This is the venue of the arm chair traveller who conjures up images of a chosen locale and clearly sees him/herself sipping wine on a beach at sunset or walking the streets of Venice in Spring. All the while these imag(inary) musings can occur discreetly within the individual amidst the daily drudgery of a crowded subway ride home or the noisy playground during a lunchtime break.

Visual artists instinctively use this inner screen as their metaphorical palette of inspiration when creating a new piece of art work. They are able to “see” the finished or in process project and then transfer this image to whatever medium they are working with. Our inner screen is the space of consciousness onto which we project the images we have stored, created or just seen. As we sit with eyes closed we enter our own personal internal space, upon which we may imagine, create and visualize the experience we wish to have. And, it is from this portal that we may then move those images of our consciousness out into manifest form through the act of creativity.

The Therapeutics of Sight – Visualization

“Holistic Online cites many university studies showing that visualization has remarkable physical health benefits, including boosting immunity, easing depression,decreasing and alleviating headaches and often, seeing yourself healthy in your mind, or visualizing the image of a healthy body, is enough for your body to understand it as truth.”1.

Some simple practices that are used to develop visualization skills involve observation and memory. Focusing your attention on a specific object and then recreating that image on your inner screen. These techniques are also used in law enforcement, business interactions, sports and more.

“Visualization techniques have proven to be invaluable in crime analysis. By interviewing and observing Criminal Intelligence Officers (CIO) and civilian crime analysts at the Tucson Police Department (TPD), we identified two crime analysis tasks that can especially benefit from visualization: crime pattern recognition and criminal association discovery.”2.

The more capable we are at making varied observations and then storing those images for later retrieval the more likely the criminal will be caught and the occasional business liaison will be vastly impressed that you remember them. In spiritual work, candle gazing is a staple practice to develop visualization skills (more about this next week in the Sacred Vessel post).

Seeing Clearly Practice:

A Daily Observation

Select an activity that you regularly and routinely do such as walking or driving (safety first, please) to work or school, a class you attend, your favorite coffee shop, etc… For at least one full week each day make a note of one thing new that you observe that you never noticed before. It can be something as trivial as noting how long a light takes to change or something more covert such as the first bud of a flower or plant. Each day try to “see” something new. Becoming more aware of the little details that cross your path each day, you become more aware of the inter-connectedness of all things. You will also more clearly see what effect you may have on that minor detail, or how it may effect you in ways you were unaware of previously.

Some Resources for a closer look:
All Museums and Great Works of Art
Your Family and Friends
Your Home
Picture Albums

Companion Post: Next Week
The Sacred Vessel
The Subtleties of the Senses: Sight

Quotes:

1. Meditation and Visualization. Gaiam Life
2. Extract of Article: Visualization in Law Enforcement.

Resources:

Seeing is Believing: The Power of Visualization by Angie LeVan, MAPP
Psychology Today Magazine

Interesting article about imagery and healing:
Dr. Gerald Epstein. “THE IMAGINAL, THE RIGHT HEMISPHERE OF THE BRAIN, AND THE WAKING DREAM”

Olympians Use Imagery as Mental Training by Christopher Clary. NYTimes 2014

Visualize Like An Athelete by NBA Coach Phil Jackson

Next Post: “Engaging the Senses”
Part 3: The Sense of Touch

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About This Series:

This five-part posting will take a closer look at each of the senses that are part of our greater learning and growing experience. Each of the five senses plays a significant role in how we process the information of our human experience and these lessons serve as the foundations of our use of sensation in ephemeral and spiritual experience. Each contributes a specific energy and working collaboratively they offer the keys to memory, expansion of consciousness, engagement in the physical world and doorways to the inner planes of wisdom.

There are collaborative posts speaking to the Spiritual overlays of each of the senses in the Sacred Vessel Blog that may be accessed the week after this posting.

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