The practice of Self-Directed Attention allows you to develop deep control of your attention and enables you to choose for yourself what is worth paying attention to and what is not. Over time, you increase your ability to decline to attend to thought forms that are harmful or simply irrelevant in the moment.
By engaging in a diligent, daily practice of Self-Directed Attention you give yourself the opportunity to develop supple control of your attention and to learn how to use it in the best possible and most useful manner.
You should start the practice immediately after looking at yourself for the first time. If you try to practice Self-Directed Attention without having looked at yourself—and thus not having destroyed the ground of fearfulness at the bottom of your mind—your practice is bound to fail. If you do not eliminate the invisible environment of fearfulness that fills your mind to one degree or another before engaging in the training of your attention, the practice will only reinforce the fearful patterns of thought and behavior, since you will be practicing unconsciously motivated by the same fear.
The Self-Directed Attention Exercise is a very difficult practice in the beginning. Our attention seems to go wherever it wants to go, and we seem to have no control over its wanderings.
You cannot think a thought. When you see a thought in your mind, it has already happened. Thoughts appear and you simply notice them and believe them to be your own. If you examine this issue carefully, you will see for yourself that thoughts are already floating in an ocean of thought and all that happens is that your attention is attracted to certain ones and not to others, according to your personal history and mental conditioning.
Gaining supple and intelligent control of your attention allows you to have a clearer idea of what is happening to you during the recovery and gives you a say in the way your mind reconstructs itself.
After a few weeks of diligent, daily practice, you will notice that you now have some control of your attention. You can help the recovery process along by using this skill in your daily life.
Next: Recovering from Fear