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Topic: to John and Carmen: Attention
Posted by: Shaun Peterson
Date/Time: 23/08/2002 03:52:44

Hi there,

I'm glad that you are encouraging the NLP community to get back to the concept and practice of modeling.  I hope this takes root.

An eariler post got me thinking about the nature of stratagies and ways in which our attention is used.

Three years ago I began to do a very simple (theoretically) meditation.  I would sit and attempt to focus on a blue circle (inner image) about the size of a penny.  The goal was to focus exclusivly on the circle for 10 minutes with no other thoughts in my mind. 

As you can imagine, after about 12 seconds of doing just fine, my thoughts only on the penny, I began to be flooded with random thoughts (what's for lunch, my feet hurt, I need to call my brother, etc).  I had a preseleceted protocol for dealing with anything that got in the way of my focus: I would calmly acknowledge the random thoughts and then go right back to the blue circle. 

As weeks went by I was able to go for longer and longer periods of time before I would be flooded by random thoughts and feelings.  Eventually I got to where I could go as long as 20 minutes fairly consistently. 

My question is this: what is happening in terms of my attention?  Experiencially I feel that my attention is like a muscle- the more I exercise it, the stronger it gets. And while 'muscle' is a nominalization, it seems less of one than 'attention', but why is that?  Is it just because 'attention' isn't sense-perceptible in the same way as 'muscles' are?

Because when I sit for twenty minutes, focusing my attention on something like a circle, or sometimes nothing at all, for all the continuous moments that I am not allowing in any random thoughts I'm not doing anything differently than the first 10 seconds of the first time I attempted to meditate.  What I am saying is that there is not an elaborate strategy that I have developed.  At first, after about 10 seconds it was as if I couldn't hold off the onslaught of random associations pouring through the straw wall of my attention, but now, they don't have a prayer of getting through(mostly- if I'm tired or unusually upset it's different).

The closest analog is to working out.  At first, after about 5 minutes of jogging, I have to rest.  But if I keep working at it I can run quite easily for an hour before I get tired.

Like I said, certain factors contribute towards the optimum conditions for focusing my attention: a balanced inner state, no exotic food in my tummy and other helpful things.  I can see where an NLP strategy would be very very useful in helping set up the optimum conditions.  But I am curious about the actual ability to focus because the protocol is so simple and therfore so easily violated: Focus on the circle only- anything else is a violation and you must return to the circle.  So I don't think an NLP strategy
could have stengthened my attention.  I would think that only by exercising 'it' can it be strengthend. It is interesting how you can take somebody with great intelligence who can figure out the most complicated mathmatical problems, but they won't be able to focus their attention for long unless they go out of their way to exercise it.

I guess my question is: as one becomes more and more capable of focusing one's attention so that random thoughts become less and less an issue, what is happening from a modeling viewpoint if you, as the modeler, are recognizing that the only difference between week one and week 52 is the length of time between random thoughts entering the scene.  That the quality of focus in week one during those 10 initial seconds is the same quality of focus in week 52 only in week 52 the quality of focus lasts longer?


Shaun Peterson

Entire Thread

TopicDate PostedPosted By
to John and Carmen: Attention23/08/2002 03:52:44Shaun Peterson
     Re:to John and Carmen: Attention23/08/2002 22:54:06Carmen Bostic and John Grinder

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