Why does attention go to what bothers us?

 

When I get a small rock in my shoe, attention goes there allowing me to notice it and do something about it.

And that is an example of a much more general pattern. Attention goes to what bothers me, so I can notice it and do something about it.

Sometimes, I do something about it in the world, like removing a pebble from my shoe. Other times, I notice and inquire into a belief. Or there is a combination.

So why does attention to go what bothers us?

In an immediate sense, it is easily explained. Something feels off, so attention goes there so we can do something about it. If it is resolved, attention moves on. If it is not resolved in a satisfying way, attention will tend to return.

It is also easily explained in an evolutionary perspective. Something feels off, attention goes to it allowing us to take care of it, and it improves our chances of reproduction and survival. I am hungry, look for food, and live another day. My leg hurts, I try to take care of and rest it, it recovers, and I am mobile again.

This is also an invitation to learn here. I gain skills and experience which may serve me in the future.

There is an invitation to mature, especially when I find and inquire into a belief. Whenever I hold onto any belief, there is friction with reality, unease, attention goes there, and there is an invitation to find what is more honest for me.

And there is an invitation for what we are to notice itself. Whenever I hold onto any belief, there is identification with a viewpoint. I try to limit what I am to that one viewpoint, which is what creates the whole sense of being an object, an “I” localized in space, with a center, viewpoint and so on.

Reality (life, existence, the universe, God, Buddha Mind) presents us with a gentle and persistent invitation to (a) survive, (b) mature (find what is more honest for us than a belief), and (c) for what is to notice itself (awaken). It is a very simple process that runs through – or can be understood from the perspectives of – evolutionary psychology, regular old psychology, and spirituality.

It is very simple. And an invitation for a lifetime of exploration.

It is so simple it almost feels unnecessary to mention. And yet, it is always only a question. Something to look into for ourselves, in daily life. A reminder and pointer for inquiry. Is it so? What do I find through own exploration? What happens when I use it as a guide?

…………………

  • why does attention go to beliefs?
    • immediate reasons
      • emotional charge
      • urge to process (often sidetracked into rumination, less helpful in the long run)
    • evolution
      • strong knots created around important events
      • important to process
      • problem solving, learning, anticipate/plan for future
    • maturing
      • invitation to heal/mature
    • awakening
      • invitation for what is (ground) to notice itself

Attention is drawn to what is unresolved for us. Just as attention

………

Whenever I hold onto any belief, including identification with an “I”, there is friction with reality, unease, attention goes there, and there is an invitation to find

…….

This is a very simple – and perhaps simpleminded – example of how reality (life, existence, the universe, God, Buddha Mind) presents us with

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