wenwu

staying present with split attention

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ok, so i have been practicing being present in every moment, it's is ok so far, not great i still need a lot of practice to catch when mind my is drifting, I have noticed tht these days when my mind does start to wander is is far more forceful than before, i find myself cmpletely lost in day dreams and have to really switch on (or off depending which way you look at it) anyway...

 

for you guys that are better at this than myself, how do you stay present and give complete attention when you are doing two things at the same time?

 

I know this sounds like a silly questions but today i was eating and reading a book at the same time and i found if i concentrated on eating i lost my place in the story and if i set my mind on the book i lost the focus on my eating. I know the simple answer is don't read and eat at the same time :) but what about other examples or times when you have to multitask?

 

thanks for any help you can give me on this or just help on staying present in general

Edited by wenwu

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I know the simple answer is don't read and eat at the same time :) but what about other examples or times when you have to multitask?

Multitasking still is just one thing at a time, just time slices. So you need to be aware fully of what is happening at that moment.

So maybe it's like driving a car, your awareness is present but there's a lot going on..?

T

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Interesting. Chosing your focal point of awareness, especially sensory awareness becomes a bit like tunnel vision, my wife would of coarse point out that women can experience these multi-point awarenesses more easily then men, although it is possible, but in my opinion more uncommon for men.

 

Focal choice sounds lovely when compared to uncontrollable mental tangents.

 

Spectrum

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dont eat and read at the same time!! :P sorry but it had to be said.

 

reading is a very mental experience - you cannot be present while reading - or to be exact you can be, it's just you wont 'understand' any of the words... you wouldn't want to be present when reading... but you would want to be present when eating...

 

with slightly less mental things, it's very usefull to learn to be present... for example when talking with someone or watching someone/thing. or fighting with someone... (the kinesthetic sense is the key to being present!)

 

looking while being present is learnt easily when you practice using your peripheral vision... the trick is to not focus on anything specific, but rather on everything... as soon as your focus is on something other than everything, you pop out of the present moment.

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I find the work of Thich Nhat Hanh to be very powerful in the practice of staying present. It is very simple, but with practice can completely anchor us in this moment. If you haven't come across the root of his present moment teaching, here it is.

 

When you breathe in, say to yourself

 

"Breathing in, I calm my body and mind."

 

When you breathe out,

 

"Breathing out, I smile."

 

In

 

"Dwelling in this present moment."

 

Out

 

"I know this is a wonderful moment."

 

 

And so on . . . you can add other elements depending on your needs, such as

 

"Breathing in, I am a mountain."

 

"Breathing out, I feel solid."

 

"Breathing in, I am a flower."

 

"Breathing out, I feel fresh."

 

You get the idea . . . :) It's a wonderful practice . . . potent and simple. He has some wonderful books out on the subject of being here now. For me, it is all about the breath. Breath is my anchor to this moment. As for multi-tasking, it takes a bit more awareness to be present with two things at once, but it's definitely possible. Perhaps making the two into one?

 

Good luck on your journey to the Now!

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This is doable but it's a rather advanced skill, believe it or not. The key is the body, control of the body first, of the mind later. When we read, the body automatically directs an increased blood supply to the eyes and the brain. When we eat, the body automatically directs an increased blood supply to the digestive tract. If someone who doesn't have the skill of the voluntary control of one's blood flow reads and eats at the same time, both the brain and the stomach don't get enough, and both the reading comprehension and the food digestion suffer. In order to multitask like that without impairing your body's natural functions, you would need to have conscious control over increasing, then splitting in two opposite directions, your blood, or at least oxygenation of your blood, and that requires control of qi that moves your blood, and that requires control of yi that moves your qi. So... when you have that, you can eat, read, drive a car, and sleep all at the same time without sacrificing either the efficiency of the task or your own health. (Mantak Chia, e.g., asserts that his brain wave activity as measured by researchers indicates that he can have a brain wave pattern of someone awake and alert and fully equipped to, e.g., drive a car simultaneously combined with another one, that of someone peacefully sleeping. He can get his brain to "multitask" like that.) But unless and until you do, it's far better to focus on one task at a time. If you start training yourself to multitask efficiently, there's different ways to go about it, my favorite is taiji which teaches the body to switch between "heavy" and "light," "full" and "empty," "yin" and "yang" all the time. You may have, e.g., a simultaneous 50% dantien focus, 5% "empty leg" focus, 20% "full leg" focus, 2% left hand focus, 3% right hand focus... and refine it even further as you go -- 0,5% focus on the pericardium meridian (in Chen), 0,25% focus on each little toe, and so on.

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I fond a lot of times I DON'T wish to be in the present moment. While I'm well aware of the benefits of staying in the present moment such as when you're doing something you enjoy (sex, eating, hiking etc.) it is often not a good idea for me to stay in the present moment when I'm in the middle of vomiting from a stomach flu or witnessing something terrible. Thats when I try to get the hell out of the "moment"

I think being in the moment is a skill that we can apply when useful.

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I fond a lot of times I DON'T wish to be in the present moment. While I'm well aware of the benefits of staying in the present moment such as when you're doing something you enjoy (sex, eating, hiking etc.) it is often not a good idea for me to stay in the present moment when I'm in the middle of vomiting from a stomach flu or witnessing something terrible. Thats when I try to get the hell out of the "moment"

I think being in the moment is a skill that we can apply when useful.

 

Most people dispose of painful moments by splitting their consciousness away from them, and in the process sacrifice long-term health for short-term relief. In order to heal, the body, the mind, the soul need to know they have been wounded. "Healing" by way of ignoring the wound, "forgetting," pretending what is happening isn't happening and what has happened never happened, is never complete, the wound is still there, patched over hastily, and so we proceed to accumulate dysfunction upon patched-over dysfunction from thousands of moments of incomplete healing. As a wise (incidentally taoist) physical therapist who almost dislocated my arm in the process of treating (successfully) a bad case of tennis elbow put it, "the way out of pain is through pain." If you seek a way out of pain through something else, chances are the labirynth of pain will never be left behind, you will just hide in a dead-end "safe" niche INSIDE it... Many, many people live in such niches.

 

I might take an aspirin roughly once or twice in a decade, and tell the dentist I don't mind feeling the pain but do mind numbing it out with a "shot" (messes me up for a week, as opposed to suffering for five minutes). I normally dispose of the flu within hours by focusing my full awareness on how it makes me feel.

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I understand this, yet I think what I'm saying is that if I'm for instance physically ill I would just try to meditate or visualize something peaceful instead of focusing on my sickness and I would focus on getting better. I would still be in the present moment, my mind would know that I was sick, but I would not try to embrace the ill feelings, I would try to remove them.

Emotional damage can not be ignored, we are all aware of that. We can not repress our feelings, they will come out in some other way. But when I was a child I often locked myself in my room while my parents would scream at eachother and it sometimes could turn violent. I did not wish to embrace this moment. I would often just try to ognore them and go into my own little world, yet I was still aware as to what was going on but with out focusing so much on it I was able to reamain sane.

I have never forgotten these emotional memories but by chosing not to focus on the screaming and the glass breaking I was able to not be drug into their violent world. I chose to ignore their stupidity and tried not to let it bring me down. I believe if I were to be in present moment during these outbursts I would have suffered a great deal more. Life to me isn't about embarcing suffering, this is why I choose not to be a buddhist. I am fully aware that it can't be avoided but I am determined to not let it consume me.

I think what I need to know is really how "present moment" is defined.

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I'm truly, deeply sorry you had to live through this.

 

Children are always right no matter how they deal with adults' insanity. I am always on the child's side, under all circumstances and for all purposes. When we are totally helpless and powerless against the parents' will jammed down our throats (whether harshly or gently) we do what we have to do in order to survive -- and, yes, repress our feelings, free expression of our true feelings, and eventually (or right away) our perceptions -- of everything, including our own feelings. In other words, reality. Our own reality. It's never the child's fault when she has to run away from reality -- wherever, however, inward, outward, into the unconscious, into the dream world, into a book, a TV program, a self-image of wisdom and invincibility... She has no choice.

 

The trick so easy to fail at that most do is to stop being a child once we are no longer children. My "prescription for sanity" -- "know thyself" -- concerns adults, or people willing and able to review and reprogram the coping mechanisms they inherited from their childhood. It's not about embracing suffering, it's about embracing a chance to be real...

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The trick so easy to fail at that most do is to stop being a child once we are no longer children. My "prescription for sanity" -- "know thyself" -- concerns adults, or people willing and able to review and reprogram the coping mechanisms they inherited from their childhood. It's not about embracing suffering, it's about embracing a chance to be real...

 

Well said.

 

I'd add in that it's easier to learn to deal with suffering in the smaller cases, like having a stomach ache or a minor physical discomfort. Like a warrior preparing for battle, it is better to practice before we face the real steel and blood. Sooner or later, we will be faced with greater suffering, like the death of a loved one, our own mortality, or a debilitating illness. But if we have prepared ourselves in the smaller cases, we will be far better off.

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Well said.

 

I'd add in that it's easier to learn to deal with suffering in the smaller cases, like having a stomach ache or a minor physical discomfort. Like a warrior preparing for battle, it is better to practice before we face the real steel and blood. Sooner or later, we will be faced with greater suffering, like the death of a loved one, our own mortality, or a debilitating illness. But if we have prepared ourselves in the smaller cases, we will be far better off.

 

I agree. That's one reason so many genuine taoist practices are difficult, and some, outright impossibly so!

If it's easy-nice-relaxing-fun-bliss, etc., it might be enough "for now," but a nice relaxed now is never guaranteed fifteen minutes from now... let alone fifteen months, or fifteen years. I believe it's a good idea to at least try to be prepared to as many things as possible with something better up our sleeve than panic, helplessness, and incompetence...

I also happen to believe that courage is the greatest virtue of them all -- everything else is hinged on it...

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My childhood forced me to grow up quickly and to also live in a fantasy world. I really loved my made up world and tried to recruit people as much as I could but eventually I had to leave it all behind. Its not to say that I don't like an escape every now and then though :)

I know a lot of people who are much older than I who still live in a fantasy world (a lot of wiccans and people who are into role playing games it seems) and its sort of sad and they can't cope with ANYTHING!

I may have not had the best childhood but I am able to deal with all sorts of things a lot better than most of my friends who lead such a sheltered life.

I chose to not resent my parents and forgave them. I'm not into holding grudges. Its bad chi. I took my childhood for what it was and I try not to focus on the past. I just think about the good memeories.

This morning I stumped my toe really bad on the sidewalk and it started gushing blood. At first I was pissed and thinking why me? But then I thought, well, lets look at the situation here. I just stumped my toe and I'm bleeding and it hurts. It is what it is but I'm not going to dwell on it.

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I just stumped my toe and I'm bleeding and it hurts. It is what it is but I'm not going to dwell on it.

 

:)

 

There is a natural cycle in everything - emotions, whether good or bad, come up, plateau and then wither away. There is a kind of perfection in that. We (as westerners) tend to get in the way of this process - we want to hold on to the good emotions, but ignore the bad... either way we tend to warp the natural cycle.

 

If we have spiritual goals then we need to learn to embrace everything the good and the bad and just watch them grow up and wither away without ignoring or holding on... Life becomes much simpler to live - you stop chasing the 'good' and running from the 'bad', you just have the time, power and clarity to bring into the human plane your greatest gifts (whatever they may be).

 

This is what I've been doing - when an emotion comes up, be aware of it! just put your awareness on the feeling of that emotion in your body and then watch what happens - watch what you do in meticulous detail... that's all - no changing or forcing, just being aware.

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ok, so i have been practicing being present in every moment, it's is ok so far, not great i still need a lot of practice to catch when mind my is drifting, I have noticed tht these days when my mind does start to wander is is far more forceful than before, i find myself cmpletely lost in day dreams and have to really switch on (or off depending which way you look at it) anyway...

 

for you guys that are better at this than myself, how do you stay present and give complete attention when you are doing two things at the same time?

 

Attention is incorrectly conceived in terms of definite ideas and intents. For example -- in what you say above, you notice that your "mind is drifting". That's not inattention. That's actually attention. But because it's not on the topic you prefer (in other words, it's not what you intend, or it's not what you think you intend), you call it "drifting".

 

If you can somehow see that all conceptual designations are without basis, and that intent is not something bracketed by time or individuality (i.e., has no beginning middle or end, is not possible to disambiguate between individuals, like whose intent is it that such and such is happening? -- cannot say for sure), then you will be able to relax knowing that you are always in the present moment no matter what. In fact, if someone told you to get out of the present moment, you wouldn't even know where to begin to accomplish such a feat.

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As long as you see something as "here" and something else as "there", your mind will have the condition necessary for, what you call, "drifting". And since the mind is naturally alive (unstable), it will necessarily do what you call "drifting" for as long as you think something is "here" and something else is "there".

 

And as long as you think intent is characterized by a start, abiding and end, and is distinctly different from individual to individual, then you will try to correct your intent in order to set it up as a cause for a desirable effect.

 

If, on the other hand, you do not delineate intent in any way, you will understand that you cannot correct it. If you understand you cannot correct it, then without falling into any sense of victimhood or determinism, you can relax and just be natural (but I can't say what is natural -- you have to know this for yourself).

 

Also, if you do not have a clear boundary between "here" and "there", you won't have a mind that could be said to be "drifting" either.

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good points on the 'here - there' duality...

 

however there needs to be some understanding of the three basic centres of a human - belly, heart and mind. Different dualities concern these centres - belly= everything and nothing - heart= me and you - mind=past and future (here and there fits in somwehere between mind and heart).

 

we always are present... we just tend to distract ourselves from the present by focusing on past and future (or basically living from the mind)... the mind is the loudest of all the centres and tends to drown out the other two... being aware from all three centres simultaneously allows one to be centered and grounded in the present.

 

One of the biggest problems for the mind is preference... we tend to prefer good to bad, so we overlook/block out the bad and hold on to the good... this automatically gets you out of the present and forces you to try to control things that are out of your control. there is always a perfect balance of good and bad in any situation...

 

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare knew what he was talking about.

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ok, so i have been practicing being present in every moment, it's is ok so far, not great i still need a lot of practice to catch when mind my is drifting, I have noticed tht these days when my mind does start to wander is is far more forceful than before, i find myself cmpletely lost in day dreams and have to really switch on (or off depending which way you look at it) anyway...

 

Two points:

 

One: when you start trying to discipline the mind at all is when it kicks off big time. Try to see this as you've got it scared and it's bluffing.

 

Two: in the beginning you just get better at paying attention. This gives the impression that everything's getting worse, but it isn't necessarily. Every time you notice what your mind is doing, congratulate yourself. You've put some distance between you and it, else you wouldn't be there to notice.

 

I realise these two points are kind of mutually contradictory, but they're still both useful.

Edited by Ian

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Two points:

 

One: when you start trying to discipline the mind at all is when it kicks off big time. Try to see this as you've got it scared and it's bluffing.

 

Two: in the beginning you just get better at paying attention. This gives the impression that everything's getting worse, but it isn't necessarily. Every time you notice what your mind is doing, congratulate yourself. You've put some distance between you and it, else you wouldn't be there to notice.

 

I realise these to points are kind of mutually contradictory, but they're still both useful.

 

interesting points

 

one: I find that problems with disciplining the mind start when you think you have some control... The mind needn't be 'changed' it needs to be explored... the ancient spiritual systems mostly focus on exploring the body and emotions... because the practitioners of those systems were very different from us. We need to address both body and emtion whilst exploring the mind, otherwise we tend to get stuck. We now have ways of exploring thinking at an amazingly magnified level... if you zoom into the building blocks of thoughts you can see exactly what your 'patterns' are...

 

two: the reason it gets worse at first is because we always thought that things are generaly good... but they arent - they're always as good as they are bad... so all that bad that we didn't notice has been swept under the carpet and putting our awareness on the present forces us to confront that mess...

 

becoming aware of your patterns shows how you tend to create the mess (at a very small scale)... you can start to play with the tiny cogs at that level and see what happens - changing things on the microscopic level creates incredible changes on the macroscopic level... I say 'changes', but it's nothing forced or controlled.

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Don't think of a Fresh Orange. Thought and Words are funny. Almost like a mini mirror universe.

 

I think it's very benificial for the practitioner of Taoist arts to spend time cultivating attention and mindfulness through movement at first, tai ji, chi gung, etc; then stillness, rather then spend time trying 'not' to think in meditation alone, which can be discouraging for the westerner who is in the center of mental war zone in constant competition for attention in most metropolitan areas. By learning to direct the attention through movement and all the senses an internal kinesthetic topology is cultivated and navigated. The artistic yet heroic navigation of the internal landscape is so beautifully illustrated in poetry.

 

excerpts

...

Old Fan Li, prepared the rise of Yueh

now floats with the moon

at Five Lakes

right and wrong forgotten

fame and profit out of mind

sounds the flute

savors the reed flowers

snowing

 

Chang Liang helped raise the Han

then cast off all accomplisment and fame

now dwells in mountain blueness

munching dragon livers, chewing phoenix eggs

made the pill of endless life

a bottomless basket full.

 

ancient Lieh Tzu (lao tzu), master of pu Tien

in a breath rode beyond

the realm of dark and light

called the Morning Star

summoned the Dipper

dreamed omens of an Empire

awoke

 

And Lang Jan Tzu

changed his sack of skin

to a toad of gold

and flew away

ghosts and spirits fled

heaven and earth turned white

there is a face you could not paint

with any colors.

 

my homes in the flowering mountain

my jow is the purest idleness

in a rush hut by a blue gotto

at the end of a crazy winding path

at noon I take a simple meal

and when I'm full

I take my staff

and wander to the mountain top

and gaze...

Edited by Spectrum

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Right now, in this present moment...my dog is farting!

 

:lol:

 

I bet he's fed commercial dog food... or he wouldn't fart. Dogs I used to know who ate what tao has intended for them to eat never farted. His fart is a message from tao. It says, "dogs are made by mommy tao to eat raw meat, and commercial dog food is made of cow dung, corn, and toxic chemicals."

 

Every moment is choke-full of information -- if we ignore it we are more likely than not to hurt ourselves, others, or both.

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When I was a kid I had some strange stomach problems. It was very painful. I learned how to hold my attention on the sensation and remove the value of "hurt" or "bad" from the pain.

After all pain is just the body saying "hey, something in this machine is operating abnormally."

It my attachment of "ouch" or "hurt" to the sensation that makes it difficult to experience. To me it seems that a truly present state of mine transcends these attachments.

 

Here in the west we place our entire system of thought on + or - . Either it is fact or it is not. Either it hurts or it feels good. It is a a flawed binary approach, which definitely has its uses.(like the machine i am typing on for instance)

What if drifting and presence are both perfectly natural and ok? The most basic requirement for most serious real deal Taoist practices seems to be stilling the mind for a certain portion of your day during practice.

Why is it bad to drift off on an imagined reality when you are not practicing?

What about any aspect of your reality is not imagined in the first place? Consciousness has dreamed a you into being. In collaboration with what has dreamed you, you dream your each and every breath, your each and every present or scattered moment.

In other words, Moriko's dog dreams up a kibble induced fart while Taomeow's dog dreams up steak tartare induced bliss. They are both still dreaming.

Edited by darebak

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Don't read andeat at the same time...it harms the spleen and stomach energies.

 

If there is no attachment to the multitasking, then there is no multi tasking.

Don't multi task.

 

Peace,

Aiwei

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What about any aspect of your reality is not imagined in the first place? Consciousness has dreamed a you into being. In collaboration with what has dreamed you, you dream your each and every breath, your each and every present or scattered moment.

In other words, Moriko's dog dreams up a kibble induced fart while Taomeow's dog dreams up steak tartare induced bliss. They are both still dreaming.

 

You're living in a dream world, Neo? <_<

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