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Self-Directed Attention


Our purpose with this exercise is to cultivate the most useful skill that will help you develop self-reliance during the difficult period that follows the collapse of the context of fear that shaped every aspect and psychological mechanism of your mind.

Keep in mind that the context of fear controlled the development of every aspect and psychological mechanism of your mind.

The most effective way to develop self-reliance is the training of your ability to direct and focus attention at will. This exercise will strengthen your ability to focus attention on a single object, ignoring everything else, as a means to develop a natural skillfulness in the intelligent use of this power.

Do this exercise for about ten minutes at a time. Set an alarm clock so you will know when the time is over.

There is no need to pay any particular attention to your posture. All that is required is that you sit comfortably enough to be able to remain seated for ten minutes in a row. Your eyes can be open or closed.

We use the breath in this exercise because breathing is something that happens on its own, and doesn't require your conscious attention for it to continue.

Just sit quietly and begin paying attention to your breath as it goes in and out of your body. Make no attempt or effort to control or monitor the way the breathing is happening. Just watch the sensation of the breath as it passes through your nostrils on its way in and out of the body. You will notice that the sensation is cool as it passes through the nostrils coming into the body and warm on its way out of the body. It is that feeling, that sensation in your nostrils that you will pay attention to and focus on.

Try to create a tight focus on the sensation of the breath coming in and out of the nose. With every outbreath, count mentally: one, two, three... The first outbreath is one, the second outbreath is two, and so forth.

Should it happen that during the counting you find that your attention has been distracted and you are paying attention to something other than the sensation of your breath—a physical sensation, a train of thought, a sound, an itch, or something crossing your field of vision—simply say to yourself silently, inwardly: Distracted. Then move your attention back to the breath and start counting again from one. If you get to ten, start over again from one.

Do this for ten minutes, once a day. In the beginning, you will probably not be able to count beyond two or three. Don't be discouraged. Keep trying, do not give up. Even if you stop at two or three and start over every time, the work is being done. Remember, the goal of this exercise is not to get to a point where you can count to high numbers. The goal is to develop and strengthen your capacity to focus your attention at will, and you do it as you would lift weights or do push-ups to develop and strengthen your muscles.

If you find yourself counting up to very high numbers without being distracted, pay closer attention. It is very easy to get on automatic pilot and keep count even though your attention is divided. Pay attention. Do not be discouraged.

To benefit fully from this exercise, you must first look at yourself. You can look at yourself right now.

How to look at yourself directly.