In Glide 2: Concentration, we harnessed our attention, keeping it on a focal point. Concentration strengthens attention.
Ponder this: Attention enlivens the object it rests upon.
For instance, if I have a sore hangnail and I keep my attention on it, pain grows and fills up my whole world for awhile. The chaos of the nightly news may do the same, amplifying my pain. A delicious meal with a beautiful sunset can also fill up my world, because my attention stays on it.
What if we develop the skill to move our attention toward things we appreciate? Then enjoyable things will grow in our lived experience, by the light of our attention.
Many of us have no driver at the wheel of our attention.
Our attention just goes to the next loud thing, urgent thing, aggravation, temptation, annoyance, fascination. Exterior things seem to hit us. We may feel victimized.
But truly Life is not whacking me with stuff. When I take it personally and lock my attention on it, it overwhelms me. When I don’t take it personally, I can let it go.
In meditation we connect with our Inner Observer, who stays calm no matter what. It sees everything as the river of human sensation. With steady meditation practice our Observer puts more peace into our everyday life. We gain more space inside. More ease with things as they are. We see that we can choose where to place our attention.
The Observer is Awareness itself.
A flow of sensations may pass through It, but It is not affected by them.
We can learn to softly observe our seeing, hearing, and feeling — without letting our mind stick to any sensation. Whatever sensation arises, we do not tell a story about it.
For instance, I sit meditating in quiet. An obnoxious noise explodes outdoors or indoors. Can I allow that sound to be, without getting upset? Can I stay loose inside and not launch into a story about that inconsiderate person or other jerks I’ve known?
Consider that our troubles arise from our sensations and our mind’s response to those sensations.
The Inner Observer is far deeper, larger, more compassionate than the mind.
The mind is restlessness but the Observer is peace all the time.
As we practice allowing sensations to rise and fall, we become aware that we really do have an Inner Observer who dwells in peace, saturated in contentment and love for all it sees, including Itself.
In the following meditation, we will gently listen for sounds in our environment, allowing our attention to rest briefly upon them.
My ears are hearing. This is a sensation.
Sounds are flowing by like fishes in a stream.
I watch them come; I let them go.
I become an Observer for awhile.
Before you begin, leave all your worries outside your door, settle into your seat, no need to do anything nor to be anywhere but Here.
Tune in to what you hear around you. Spend a moment listening to each sound.
Perhaps the birds are singing. Perhaps you hear a car or a plane.
The sound rises and falls. It is coming and going.
Don’t attach to it. There’s no need to tell a story about it.
(Jackhammer or noise? Just call it “sound.”)
Perhaps it is a steady sound. A hum of something in the room or the air vents.
The ticking of a clock. These can be deeply calming to the mind.
Now let us turn our attention to our own body. What do we hear within our own body?
Perhaps the breath. Or the heartbeat. Perhaps your ears hear an inner tone or a hum.
We are learning to listen.
Our Inner Observer is listening without judgment.
At Peace, we listen.
Linger longer if you wish. Let your heart lead you.
Feel the balm underneath it all.