Attention Training

Attention Training

"I think attentional skills are fundamentally under siege today. Never before in human history have there been so many seductive distractors in a person’s day, in a given hour, or in ten minutes. There are pingings and pop-ups and all kinds of sensory impingements on our attention that want to pull us away from what we’re trying to focus on."

~ Daniel Goleman

Focusing on Direct Experience Leads to Increased Happiness

“People are less happy when they’re mind-wandering, no matter what they’re doing. For example, people don’t really like commuting to work very much. It’s one of their least enjoyable activities. And yet, they are substantially happier when they’re focused only on their commute than when their mind is going off to something else. It's amazing.”

~ Matt Killingsworth, from "Want to be Happier? Stay in the Moment"

Equanimity in Action

Moonwalk from Bryan Smith on Vimeo.

The ultimate full moon shot. Dean Potter walks a highline at Cathedral Peak as the sun sets and the moon rises. Shot from over 1 mile away with a Canon 800mm and 2X by Michael Schaefer

This shot was part of a bigger project for National Geographic called The Man Who Can Fly.  

Music track is from Will Bolton.

Slightly Unmapped


There it is
by Jo Hamilton, from Gown 

Climbing into the future
Leaving a wake of life
Fresh ideas for the picking
Throw them as seeds behind 

And there it is
A world of hope
Make your way
Through the undergrowth

Looking ahead what’s round the corner
Intriguing adventures all around
Leaving the map slightly unmapped
Focus but not too tight

And there it is
A world of hope
Make your way
Through the undergrowth.

The Value of Concentration

The Value of Concentration

Meditation and mindfulness: the words conjure images of yoga retreats and Buddhist monks. But perhaps they should evoke a very different picture: a man in a deerstalker, puffing away at a curved pipe, Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. The world’s greatest fictional detective is someone who knows the value of concentration, of “throwing his brain out of action,” as Dr. Watson puts it. He is the quintessential unitasker in a multitasking world.

As If The Intention Of What You Are Doing Has Left

Make-up artist Lois Burwell, on the process of transforming Daniel Day Lewis into Abraham Lincoln (The Business, December 10, 2012): 

"Part of the process we used is called stretch and stipple. You actually need four hands, not two, because you want to hold the skin, paint it, and then use a blow dryer -- on cool so you don't bake him -- to speed up the process. But you actually need four hands. But also you make it efficient and speedy, but we had to learn how to do it together so that there wasn't a feeling of two hands on the face moving separately from each other rather than in conjunction.

If you think of the difference between a massage and two people having a go separately, how that would feel. That's really distracting. So we actually practiced. It's rather like some strange, hip-hop handshake is the only way I can describe it. Doing a make-up simultaneously.

And of course we were in silence, so we mouthed to each other -- eyes, mouth -- you know, just mouthing it...To be perfectly honest, I actually quite like making up people in silence, if I'm really truthful. And fortunately, with Daniel, that is what he liked. So we dovetailed. I don't want to sound pretentious, but the only way I can describe it, is when your hands are working on a face, after a period of time, it's as if the intention of what you're doing has left you -- and the thought process -- and the hands [are] doing it by themselves. So you lose yourself in it. So someone asks you a question, you're sort of broken from it. And it's really hard then to find where you were and begin again. "

Absorbed in Our Own Thoughts

June 6, 2012

Excerpt from "Why Daydreaming Isn’t a Waste of Time," by Annie Murphy Paul, KQED Mind/Shift, June 1, 2012:

The ability to become absorbed in our own thoughts is linked to our ability to focus intently on the world outside, research indicates. In one recent neuro-imaging study, for example, participants alternated periods of mental rest with periods of looking at images and listening to sounds.

The more effectively the neural regions associated with “looking in” were activated during rest and deactivated while attending to the visual and auditory stimuli, the more engaged were the brain’s sensory cortices in response to sights and sounds. Focus and concentration are essential, of course. But so are introspection and reflection.

Read the entire post...

Noting and Labeling

Noting and Labeling

Mindfulness practice involves tracking aspects of ordinary experience as precisely as possible while allowing these observations to come and go with less interference. The noting technique creates a structure for maintaining both of these qualities of attention. Using mental labels is a technique that supports noting.