Focused Attention and Open Awareness New York City

Mindfulness in Everyday Activities - Focused Attention and Open Awareness

Focused attention and open awarenessBy George Marino CPC, CMMT

We are wired to resist much of unpleasant experiences. What is often overlooked is that there is even some resistance in pleasant situations when we recognize the fleeting nature of things, events and situations. In many cultures, there is a hidden resistance to the impermanent nature of things including human life. Acceptance plays an important role in mindfulness. Rather than trying to avoid or control an experience, mindfulness involves allowing experiences to be as they are. After all, you can’t argue with what already is, unless of course you want to suffer in some way. Mindfulness teaches us not to struggle with feeling or thoughts. Allowing and accepting are a central part of mindfulness.

Sometimes it may be helpful to first acknowledge a situation and move towards a state of acceptance while releasing any form of resistance internally. There are exercises and practices that can help us with this. One such practice is the “focused attention and open awareness” exercise which we will do together in our meditation.

By letting go of struggles against feelings and thoughts, we not only save energy, but also experience the natural course of emotions and feelings and watch them fade away all by themselves. After all, they are only a temporary fleeting phenomenon. When we accept “as if” we had chosen the situation, we may notice that feelings and emotions become less intense, and they may even go away faster than when we struggle and fight them.

Mindfulness teaches us to focus attention on experiences, thoughts, emotions without judging them as good or bad , instead we accept then for what they are. For example, when an emotion such as anger is allowed to persist, we can experience the temporary nature of the emotion, as it will come and go by itself. Allowing experiences to take their natural course can help us liberate ourselves from emotions, feelings and thoughts. We become an observer of rather than a participant in the emotions, feelings and thoughts. What a liberation that is!

Typically, we have much less difficulty dealing with pleasant situations and events. However, conflict can arise from pleasant experiences when we try to hold onto them. Negative as well as positive emotions come and go. The realization that even positive experiences eventually disappear can cause us to try to hold on to things that are temporary in nature. This attachment causes conflict. A conflict between how things are now (pleasant/nice) and how things will be at some future point in time ( neutral/unpleasant). When we notice that our mind is trying to hold on to the moment to prolong the happy feeling, even repeatedly talking about it, we can accept that this is the way our mind works and return to the present moment.

Alignment with the present moment is the basis for conscious choice. When we accept and become friendly with the present moment no matter what is arising, a space of awareness opens up for us where potentially creative solutions are possible. A very different state of consciousness comes in where new opportunities and creative solutions are much more likely, and a sense of ease in how you deal with challenges in life. A natural shift from being based in thought, feelings and emotions to awareness changes your relationship with everyday activities and leads to a more conscious and fulfilling life experience.

A guided meditation for focused attention and open awareness may help in practicing acceptance and making conscious choices.

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