Breadth of Attention: an experiment

An experiment in awareness and attention

First –

Let your attention expand. Let it become peripheral and panoramic.Relax your attention and rest in awareness. Rest in the given sensation of the situation. Stay with this a while.

Next –

Focus your attention. Narrow your attention.

Play with these two positions of awareness and attention.

I am interested to know if your sense of well being changes from one attitude to the other.

If you wish to share your experience, I would be delighted to hear from you.  Send me your reflections.

Peri Mackintosh

Awareness of Attention

Essential to FF is the process of being aware of our own and others attention. For people who grasp this, FF is instantly possible.

I believe this ability is innate. In humans and animals and between species. I say this because I see the immediacy with which some people and all animals seem to display this. However, I think this
instinctual detection of another’s awareness can at times be distracted. Training therefore comprises allowing our innate sensitivity to inform our interaction unhindered.

Peri Mackintosh

Finding You and the Shape of Attention

My task in FF is to find You.

My sense of myself emerges and takes shape through and in my attention.

Out of the panorama of given awareness my attention is a marshaling of resources from the most subtle noticing to the most dramatic of vigorous action.

This marshaling of attention is perceptible in others. We can see – hear – feel how someones attention forms.

In FF we oriantate our selves both around our forming attention and the attention of our partners.

Is the sharing of our attention, our connection?

Our self attention has place and shape. This is fluid, mobile. I may for instance at one moment feel I am in I’m upper chest and face . From this vantage another area may be objectified – the itch on my ankle “down there”

This self awareness is always subtly shifting ( although we all may have tendencies to position ourselves in certain ways – what we might call attitude).

The next moment I may, for instance, recede behind my eyeballs “deep in thought”, and the next, gradually open and expand into a more diffuse broad awareness of the entirety of my whole bodily being in this space.

Our awareness can expand to the panoramic and contract to pin sharp focus and can be variously configured in shape, depth and projection. This is the continually evolving shape of my presence.

In FF we track this both in ourselves and our partners. We attempt to match and meet through the flow of our attention, drawing as much of our selves to each other as we can muster.

mindfulness, awareness, nowness, presence

I don’t like the term “mindfulness”. It has for me a scent of piety, or preciousness as in “minding your your p’s and q’s”. It also carries the implication that it involves a kind of intense thinking about what you are doing. Of course it is none of these things, but I am happier with the terms of awareness, nowness and at a pinch presence.

Freeforming begins in awareness. By this I mean the Perlsian coming to my senses, – a de emphasis of thinking about. I am talking of a pre-reflexive consciousness, my experience before I start thinking about it. What I am sensing, experiencing now.

I like Trungpas deft admonition that what is important is what we are aware of not, us trying to become more aware.

Its sticking to nowness rather than my mental embroideries, even if it is most reasonably about the now ( or what was the now…).

It this now that has a gutsy, physical energy to it which the term mindfulness misses.

It is this energy of the moment that informs the practice not my calculation or consideration.

I am fond of telling Freeformers that in Freeforming my ideas, however clever they are, always result in a break in contact. A severance from now. A break from you.

The discipline is a kind of decanting the revved engines of my thinking and a return to listening, waiting, resting in sensation – allowing my self to be moved by the situation.

So yes there is a presence to the situation in the sense I am her, now, with you. (Again, I am reluctant to bandy this word presence as it carries a dramatic or earnest flavour to it that I find obscuring. By now you be noticing my pickiness with words which is hopefully given respite in the non-verbal!)

For me there is deep richness in the moment as I recede. There is the fullness of life that my reflections invariably negate.

So Freeforming begins in awareness. Awareness is also the aim and end of Freeforming.

This moment without stricture.

transition from touch to sight

Carl asked us to investigate the transition from working from eyes shut to eyes open.

Beginning with touch and eyes shut.

I noticed that as I open my eyes my awareness shifts location rapidly. I found it almost impossible to keep my awareness with the touch.

In a way this is obvious.

Simply my intention to shift sensory modes entails a shift of awareness.


meeting awareness with awareness

Freeforming is about meeting our partners awareness with our own awareness.

We often begin practice sitting.

We practice returning to our awareness.

Lowering the degree of our engaged identification with our thinking to return to the “empty mirror” of awareness.

We then attempt to meet this awareness in our partner.

I picture this as holding a plastic cup of water between us. At first the cup may be full of ripples if not spilled or dropped entirely.

However, we attempt to stll our selves so that the water becomes still.

It reminds me of my experience of the Kashima Shin Ryu sword practice. Facing opponents practice by waiting until they sense both themselves and their opponent is completely settled, before acting

A moving target is difficult to hit. In Freeforming I want to make myself easily available so that the other can reach my awareness. I may also wait for them to settle.

It is from our creative adjustment to make and maintain this stillness connective awareness between us, that the motion of Freeforming is generated.