Ten seconds to Balance

November 1st, 2023

Attention is the most difficult attribute for humans to develop.  I imagine the automatic “intuitive” safety-directed response that, by design (fast and no thinking required), disrupts the opportunity to consciously attend and generate a fully informed decision.  Over the years, I have developed and practice what I call the “10 second rule.”  I have trained to insert 10 seconds minimum attention to an intuitive response.  Obviously, a crisis will not afford you this opportunity and that is wise but most learned reactions will.  In 10 seconds, I demand an image of the outcome or I will halt the process.  I create a symbol external (think timer) to review options and make a conscious decision.  I accept the risk!  We might call this spiritual work—the theme or spirit of the work that is wise for me in the long run.  This is not about power or control, only the nature of influence.  Energy is equal to the relationship between mass and time (and now science deems there is no mass so time is important).  This is a possible influence because the system does not evolve backwards—evolution is a marker of time.

A few more points I have observed or learned about the integration of attention.  A caution should never be ignored.  If you are attending to anything with a caution employ “divide attention” and maintain equal attention to both the stimulus and the caution.  Not an easy form of attention but worth mastering.  A constant level of attention is critical to stay alert to changes in data in order to make safe choices.  A caution is not a demand to stop and it is not a distraction.  It is a communication that supports your safety in attending to your goal or task.  A caution is not limited to a hazard to life but could be an emotional or spiritual threat.

An emotional energy does not pose a caution but may be disabling.  The intensity of emotion (energy to support action) voids any chance of equal attention.  “Alternating attention” still supports your choices to influence but with emotion you need one more step to level the field.  Attend to the emotion and immediately notice that your presence is greater than the emotional energy (assuming you don’t become the emotion).  Notice the time absorbed in this step and switch your attention to task.  Attend equal time to your task and switch again back to emotion repeating this process until the task is completed or the emotional level recedes.  The trick here is to use time, an external reference, instead of the internal reference of your space (volume).

A small amount of emotional energy is often used as a switch to change states of being.  To attend to a task or stimulus you may need to be in the mood; a different state.  You will not notice the volume of emotional energy until you compare it to your presence.  If it proves to be manageable, match the energy and quickly switch your attention to the task or stimulus for an event.  Repeating this process quickly will bond the energy to the task and support your attention.

The default for humans is focus of attention but that is a filter and not a choice.  When there are multiple stimuli, as in thoughts, fully attend to one at a time and choose not to continue the attention.  As that stimulus diminishes quickly move to the next and repeat.  Remember to fully attend to each stimulus and choice to dismiss.  You select what you wish to attend to and your influence is expressed in choice.  All the above skills may be developed through meditation—a focus of attention.


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