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Using the Just One Look Method
Hi all. I've been doing the self directed attention work consistently for about two months. Prior to that it was on and off.
It hasn't gotten any easier. Once in a great while I can actually focus a little bit. Most of the time, I just sit there getting lost in thought. There are probably a total of ten seconds out of the ten minutes where I am actually focused on the breath. And getting past one? Forget it. I did that three times before, but not recently.
I talked about this to John and Carla, but I really feel the need to bring it up again; If I am so ridiculously ineffective with my focus during the practice, wouldn't it be better for me to just put more time in? I feel like I'd need to do this for hours a day (which I don't have the time to do) in order to actually make any headway.
I have been told that the point is to just do the work, and it's not about getting to ten. But I have also heard John say that when you can get to ten, you're finished. So I'm a bit conflicted. If there is a clear goal of getting to ten breaths with full undivided focus, then it seems like I should do this work for more than ten minute sessions if I have any hope of getting there in my lifetime. As things are going now, I don't see how in the world I'd ever get to ten. My ability to focus seems completely random, and not improving at all.
I thought I'd share with you my own personal experience with this. Like most people here, they take this on as a self competitive effort. We've all been so programmed to be "goal oriented" that we really never notice the stress, fear and anxiety that comes with that. I've found that the whole point of ANY meditation practice is to become more AWARE. And part of the process is getting beyond any goal type of thinking. PATIENCE is ALSO a " benefit " of this work. They go hand in hand from what I can gather. In short I'm saying.... Just be aware of the tendency to "GET THERE" and recognize it for what it is! Another program running in your (our) head. HENCE the practice itself! Self directed attention allows us the OPPORTUNITY to be AWARE of these programs and decline to attend to them.
My own journey is frought with starts & stops. But each time I return to the work. I've found I'm more aware, patient and calmer about whatever life is throwing my way.
So be KIND to yourself and stick it out as best you can and don't be afraid to drop it for a while and give yourself a break. Sometimes we need an integration period before moving on. I know I do!
I've also found that my searching for other resources and methods Seems to bring me right back here! Why? Because the more I wander around the more I realize that attention IS all we can have any say about! I guess for me I just need to prove that to myself in some way. So I guess trying out different methods is my path for doing that. (Much to John's frustration I'm sure LOL) But rest assured progress IS & WILL be made!! Because you want it!! â¤âœŒ
Have you tried to work with your attention in your day to day life too? If you haven't, or only have done little of that, I recommend that you do that some more.
Do your sittings with self-directed attention, but try to relax and don't push, as Rick also mentioned. And take also some moments during the day, where you try to detect thought and/or emotion patterns that are obviously useless and disturbing, and move away from them.
And when I say "try to detect", I don't mean to be too vigilant, but just notice when things get to crazy for what is sane to be involved in and decide to not engage with that, and look away. Do something else or focus on your breath for a while, until it loses it worst grip on your attention.
I know you said that you feel that you don't have any control what so ever over your attention and maybe you feel that practicing self-directed attention can seem too hard. But challenge those thoughts too. Just the fact that you can write and speak of your attention is a huge step. You have already some distance towards your thoughts. See that, trust it and use it.
All the best,
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