"Attention's selective nature confers tremendous benefits, chief of which is enabling you to comprehend what would otherwise be chaos. You couldn't take in the totality of your own experience, even for a moment, much less the whole world. Whether it's noise on the street, ideas at the office, or feelings in a relationship, you're potentially bombarded with stimuli vying for your attention. New electronic information and communications technology continually add to the overload. By helping you to focus on some things and filter out others, attention distills the universe into your universe." This passage from the Gallagher reading is starred and underlined in my copy. This article came at just the right time for me. I've been reading and meditating on this concept ever since our discussion last week regarding the "space of flows." Someone I know well, believes silence is not only golden, but imperative. I read this passage in his blog last week. "Constant sound has a way of slowly draining the body, mind, and spirit of some of its most salient elements. As it pertains to sound, when we head down the slope of 'more is better,' I fear we often neglect to ask where we’re headed. The soul of humanity was not wired for constant frenzy or stimulation. When we ignore this inherent wiring, we become wounded in some of our deepest and most significant places. The thing is – we don’t often realize the damage until later, and then it is often difficult to subdue. It is similar to someone who gets “so busy” doing something, that hours later they realized they’ve skipped meal(s), and they are starving. I am confident we recognize the sensation of physical hunger – I’m not nearly as confident we recognize our spirit’s cries for nourishment." (used by permission)
Gallagher goes on to talk about two ways of focusing: bottom-up attention and top-down attention. She quotes a David Brown Op-ed piece from 2008 to describe Tiger Woods' ability to focus. I've attached a link to the entire piece here: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/17/opinion/17brooks.html Clearly, things have changed for Tiger and I suggest those have changed his focus. However, the point remains.
My question to you and myself is how do we tune out the noise? I have a friend that has given up NPR for lent. Unusual right? I mean, NPR? Really? Her explanation, "I am hoping the extra quiet will lead to greater introspection and reflection on spiritual matters." When I asked if NPR was the loudest thing in her life, she said, "Not the loudest, the noisiest." Maybe that's the answer. Maybe we ask ourselves, "what is the noisiest thing in my life and do I have the courage to give it up?"