One of the core challenges many of us face in the digital age is the fragmentation of our attentions. Digital distractions and habitual self-interruption team up to leave us unable to bring our full focus to bear on what’s most important to us.
By: Vince Horn
Unfortunately, concentration is a power that many people have forgotten they possess. We are constantly being pulled this way and that by forces vying for our attention. Some have our best interests at heart. Many do not. When we lose control of the ability to direct our attention, we become programmed by the world instead of programmers of it. In this course we will practice reclaiming the power of a well-trained attention & unlocking the hidden potential of our minds. This potential can take form as a number of different super powers. From expanding space & time, to tapping into natural joy, the concentrated mind is reality-bending.
When we say we don’t have time for something, what we really mean is that something else has our attention. Time isn’t the scarce resource, attention is! By training our attention we actually learn to dilate time, to make more of less. The power of concentration allows you to make the most of your time by taming your mind.
When we aren’t trying to escape our experience, or focus all our energy on finding something to distract us from what we’re feeling, we can just stop and be present with our lives. What we find, when we do this, is the extraordinarily ordinary experience of natural joy. With concentration practice we learn to stop chasing joy, and instead, find it where we already are.
When our attention becomes focused the mind becomes still & quiet. As our concentration deepens the intense ripples of experience that normally disturb us start to settle all by themselves. This still & quiet mind feels like vast, open space. It stretches endlessly in all directions and encompasses everything in our experience. Concentration practice introduces us to a mind like space.
What is going on in your mind right now? What has your attention? Concentration meditation trains not only the capacity to notice what is in attention, but also to notice where attention is. This meta-cognitive capacity, literally "knowing what is being known", can be strengthened just like a physical muscle.
When a full and heartfelt concentration is brought to bear in relationships it’s felt as presence. Being fully present enables us to really hear one another because we’re not overly distracted by our own internal dialogue. If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of powerful presence, of someone who is really attentive to you, then you already know what a powerful gift it can be. Total presence lets you be that gift for others.
When we’re really deeply involved in something we lose ourselves (in the best sense). This is in contrast to our default mode, where we’re perpetually planning for and worrying about what is going to happen to us next. Our default mode is a kind of persistent self-obsession characterized by high levels of anxiety. Concentration practice helps you more easily lose yourself to the simple experience of being alive.