The focus of conscious attention
Attention is a function of the mind used to select which object we put into our field of consciousness; so sometimes the ability to be attentive and one’s conscience is confused. The ability to be aware incorporate the focus (attend) of any cognizable object and also its perception, while the consciousness field consists of all objects focused.
We say that the mind is concentrated when attention is held in a single simple object: the field of consciousness is narrow. Not the usual state, on the contrary, attention tends to change constantly from one object to another. For example, while we are doing a routine activity our thoughts come and go, and usually our attention follow them, so we are doing the activity almost unconsciously, unattended, in automatic mode, we can even seem absent during the activity, because our conscious attention is trapped in random thoughts.
This constant mental rumination is dysfunctional, as has been scientifically proven: produces a feeling of uneasiness and discontent. The various relaxation techniques and meditation seek to reduce this background mental activity calming the mind (for example, walking beside the sea, attending sensations) and moving the focus from thoughts to other objects, such as the body itself.
Attention captured by thoughts
Normally, our focus of attention are the body itself, the sensory information, and the thoughts, the latter being preponderant. Also, being the psychological self (also called ego) a mixture of thoughts and memories (we can say we think ourselves), the preferential attention to one’s thoughts is closely related to the sense of self: when a thought emerges, we believe that we ourselves are thinking, and obviously we full attend that thought. We could say that thoughts, self, and attention are entangled, making it difficult to discriminate between them. As more enmeshed they are, the person most difficulties will have for stop the automatically attending to all that the mind randomly propose him, whether good or bad, positive or negative, important or trivial; there is an identification of the person with their thoughts.
Centeredness of care
In conscious relaxation we relax and attend to the pleasant sensations that produces relaxation, and in meditation we learn to calm our mind. When we have acquired some practice in such techniques, it becomes evident, and this is a fact proved by experience and also by science, there arises a new deeper self, one that is not any thought but is directly experienced, lived. For this deep I, which is also commonly called the inner witness, we have not yet scientific theories that explain it is, but we know the effects produced by: a mental stability and peace is achieved. Such deep I is experienced at first stages as something vague, like a calm presence that is watching without acting.
When we have some practice to feel it, we can start trying a more advanced meditation practice, one we know as centering of attention from the inner self, or simply centeredness. It consists of, from the inner I, acting as if we were him, observe the entire field of consciousness: our body, emotions, sensory information, and thoughts, but not jumping from one to another, as usual, instead, watching them all at once, like all of them were a unique pack; all the possible objects of consciousness are incorporated into a wide field of consciousness, observed from the deep self.
We call the body-mind centering the ability to align or combine three human capacities: thinking (mind), feeling (emotions, feelings) and make (body) – Luis Lopez – Relaxation in the classroom.
Centeredness … is learning to stand and stay (in the deep identity) as long as we can. I am that who are seeing, feeling, doing physically – A. Blay – Self
Centeredness in the sense of identity merging with pure attention, it is not ideas about oneself. This enables addressing all aspects of the person at the same time and also have a sense of freedom of action upon them.
I transcribed below the exercise of centeredness as I am doing in my daily practice; remember that it is not an exercise for initiation to meditation, if you try before having achieved a certain mental stability, through initial relaxation exercises and meditation, chances are that no results are obtained. But if we have already experienced, we became aware of this profound I that observes everything that happens without action, beyond thoughts, then we can try this more advanced practice.
We find ourselves in our favorite meditation position, in the right place. Relax the body, releasing tension. Breathe deeply, slowly, deliberately, two or three times.
Then we made our favorite relaxation exercise or meditation, in order to calm and relax the mind. Whatever the technique chosen, to the end we have to be in a relaxed state but mindfully. We dedicate a minimum of 10 minutes and a maximum of 20 to this stage.
Then we close our eyes and take care of our body: we note their presence, we focus our attention on it, without any purpose, without judging or thinking about it, we just attend, we are there. Note also their weight, the pressure points that body weight exerts on the chair or mat. We spend about three minutes.
Then we attend to our senses: in succession, focus each of them, touch (throughout the body, the clothes we wear, the air in contact with skin), smell (which smells detect?), taste (what flavor we have in the mouth?), hearing (noise both inside our body, in the room, and also far away). About three minutes.
Then we attend to our emotions, our emotional state: what is? We feel that physical, soft feeling, which is the emotional state when we are relaxed, focusing our attention there for a few minutes.
In the next stage we attend our thoughts, our mind: “observe” the interior space where thoughts arise, perhaps at that time does not arise any but the space is there. If you experience any, then observe how thought appears and disappears again in the space of mind. We were there about two minutes.
Now try to attend to all of the above, but not in sequence but in block: the entire field, including the body, senses, emotions and thoughts. To do this, we can imagine that “we step back” to gain perspective and mentally become able to cover everything with our attention. We stay there all we can, experiencing the feeling of cover the whole field of consciousness without identifying with any of its contents.
Exiting: As usual, breathing deeply, gently mobilizing joints, opening eyes and slowly getting back to normal physical consciousness.