Another visit to the topic of attention, probably not so different in the words that come out, but always new as it is explored here now.
- Attention is content of awareness, something that comes and goes and shifts around.
- As any other content, attention lives its own life on its own schedule, and has infinite causes and effects. Some of the immediate causes of attention is discursive thoughts directing it, stories taken as real which draws it, and so on. Its immediate effects is to filter perception, which in turn has its own effects.
- Attention can be directed by thoughts. It can be directed to a particular area within any sensory field: sensations, sight, sound, taste/smell, thoughts.
- In the visual field, attention can easily be on something else than the visual focus. I can visually focus on the cup, but attention can be on the movement of the trees outside the window.
- Attention creates a boundary within the field of perception. What is inside is attended to, what is outside is not. (More or less.)
- Attention filters perception. Something is within the boundary and is attended to, and everything else fades into the background of awareness (although still arises just as before).
- Attention tends to go to beliefs, stories we take as real and true. If there is a conscious attempt to keep attention on something else, this can be experienced as a “distraction”. (But can also be seen as an invitation to notice the belief, and see that too as just a thought.)
In all of this, attention is very closely related to thoughts. It is content of awareness, just like thoughts are. It operates within an imagined boundary overlaid onto the perceptual field, as defined by an image thought. It filters perception, similar to how thoughts in general filters attention. And it is guided by thought, either discursive thoughts (“bring attention to your left foot”) or beliefs (“People shouldn’t lie, but she did.” So attention goes to the memory and stories around that particular incident.)
In exploring this for myself, I can’t help wondering if not attention is anything more than just an image thought creating a focus and boundary that filters the perceptual field in a particular way.
As with everything else, there is always more to explore here.
One thought to “Attention”
The etymology of “attention” suggests it involves a “tension” or “resistance” in awareness. An interesting exploration is to play with alternately being at-tension and relaxing, noticing the subtle energetic shifts. For more on this and how attention might be related to thoughts, see the section The Nature of Concepts in the article The Heart of Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s Philosophy.