Focus – at high altitude

Raise and direct your conscience – i.e. your attention – and your own wealth of internal resources will follow suit.

If it sounds like a line lifted from some self-help development guide – in sum, a load of codswallop – then read on. For regardless of the reams of unintelligible verbiage that have been penned on the subject of attention, and harnessing the thread of thought – whether the task one is applying oneself to is personal or professional – it seems fair to say that the following guidelines still hold water, or, at worst, help reduce the leaks. Consider these three facts:

One can control and direct one’s thoughts.

One can use one’s emotions.

One can clarify one’s objectives.

Result: In the light of any given task, one can focus one’s attention so as to benefit from one’s intuition, and thus draw upon one’s own internal means – of experience, tapped or untapped.

If names matter, call it the unconscious; but by all means, call it Sally or Larry, if you will; call it Machu Picchu  – it does not matter. The name does not alter the advent. After all, it is altitude we are after. That is what concentrated attention is: eagle vision hovering over a chosen task: holding it in focus, yet at a distance; viewing it in perspective against the local terrain. And what ensues is beyond the mere technical attributes of reason and knowledge. Their working compound is frequently results oriented, and hence, let us admit it, limited – and limiting, too.

No, what one is after here is an overall aesthetic, something that far supersedes the linear stiletto of mind-searing thought. Let us call it the optimal zone of mental altitude – a metaphor for holistic reasoning. Some people enter this zone quite easily, at a doddle, like Larry; yet many, it seems, do not. To be sure: It is less a question of aptitude or ability, and far more a matter of being able to harness one’s mental application.

Nothing more.

Nothing less.

Herewith is an attempt to convince you that when ad libitum – read à volonté – the unconscious can bring greater pleasure to the mind, and in such, can offer more pertinent results to the task which the mind has punctually set itself to accomplish.

1)   The act of concentrating one’s attention dissipates ambient negativity; moreover, it puts to one side, the far side, the clutter and distractions and concerns that do much to pollute one’s efforts – and worse, restrict results.

2)   The act of controlling one’s thoughts and the quality of one’s objectives and attention creates an optimal condition for the unconscious to contribute to the designated task – one’s approach becomes global, as opposed to narrow, fragmented and insular.

3)   The act of consciously detaching oneself from result-driven effort, without taking one’s eye off the objective, greatly diminishes stress and the sense of urgency (results!, results!) that often brings about clumsiness and an awkward feeling to “wrap it all up, Rodney”– as soon as possible, zap, zap, zap.

4)   Electing to abandon the reflex to plan everything in detail limits rigidity (of what can and cannot be said and done). The need to stick to a specific agenda generates stiffness – especially when working in a group, where concentrated effort is required to tackle a particular task/project. Here one should exit any formal protocol. This opens the door to creativity, and furthermore allows one to be present to whatever emerges, and better still, allows one to respond to the emerging, at will, alert, in the moment. Judgement is suspended.

Concentration. Control. Detachment. Presence. Did you say paradox? Yes, undoubtedly. Though I’m not sure where. Yet there is bound to be at least one paradox lurking somewhere in any intelligible process. So what?

This is the nub: If concentration and control create the quality of one’s thinking/working space, then it is the technique of detachment that lends the individual the distance which is required, for him, or her, in order to see and perceive of what may emerge, there, in the present, one’s judgement neatly on hold, as it were, put on stand-by. Such are the conditions that favour access to one’s inner intelligence. Some might call it a variation on mindfulness – from the Sanskrit smṛti, meaning awareness.

If paradox there is, it is perhaps this: one must enter the process via a tunnel: the optimum conditions must be created consciously, methodically and attentively. Only then can the unseen orchestration of the unconscious come into play.

Let it be said: One must consciously avail oneself to the potential of uncertainty. A paradox? Perhaps, but I suspect not.

Try it. Then let me know if this is just another mindless scribble on the subject – of focus at high altitude.

– the link is to a website that offers both a listening exercise (for non native speakers) and a relaxing exercise, for whoever wishes to explore the content (and suspend judgement, if only momentarily.)

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