The Scattering of Attention: A Modern Epidemic
The hunger for novelty and the constant need for the next big thing have created a sense of desperation in our society. Celebrities rise and fall in the blink of an eye, and technological advancements are quickly overshadowed by speculation about the next version. This craving for the new, while understandable, can have dire consequences. It contributes to a scattering of attention, diverting our focus away from the important issues that lie at the heart of human life. Moreover, the proliferation of communication channels, such as email, instant messaging, and SMS, has only intensified this problem, providing endless opportunities for distraction and mindless chatter.
The Dangers of Distractedness
While the scattering of attention may seem harmless on the surface, it conceals a subtle danger. It undermines our capacity to concentrate and make wise decisions. Research has shown that interruptions, even seemingly innocuous ones, severely impact our performance in complex mental tasks. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not an efficient approach. Trying to juggle multiple related tasks simultaneously or rapidly switching between them leads to increased errors and prolonged completion times. Even the younger generation, who have grown up with technology, struggle to effectively multi-task. Their skills at accessing information have improved, but their tolerance for ambiguity and complexity has decreased.
The Impact of Technology on the Mind
Regular use of the internet and screen-based technologies has a profound effect on our brains. Studies suggest that the internet “re-wires” our brains, altering our cognitive abilities. While it enhances visual-spatial skills, it weakens our capacity for deep processing, critical thinking, and reflection. Patricia Greenfield, a prominent developmental psychologist, found that different media develop cognitive skills at the expense of others. Our increasing reliance on the internet and screens has led to the widespread development of visual-spatial skills, but at the cost of mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, and imagination.
Finding Balance in a World of Distractions
To prevent our world from becoming a fairground carousel, flinging attention out to the periphery, we must learn to center our attention on the perennial issues of deep meaning that lie at the core of civilization. In the past, established orthodoxies in politics, religion, and culture provided a framework for this process. But as these orthodoxies erode, we are faced with the daunting task of creating new ways to express essential concepts such as Goodness, Truth, Justice, and Beauty. To achieve this, we must prioritize and dedicate time to meditation in all its forms.
The Power of Meditation: Emptying the Mind and Connecting with Divine Ideas
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not solely about stilling the mind or emptying it of thoughts. It is the first step, but it is not the sole purpose. The mind must actively engage in contacting Divine Ideas and creating thought forms through which these ideas can be expressed. This process is how great works of genius emerge in various fields, including science, education, politics, the arts, and religion. Nurturing this process and protecting our minds from distractions is crucial for our world’s well-being.
The Essence of Concentration: Bringing Together and Focusing the Mind
Concentration is the act of bringing together or drawing our thoughts and ideas to a common center or focal point. It involves gathering our wandering thoughts and holding the mind firmly and steadily on the object of our attention. It requires eliminating all distractions and extraneous thoughts. Developing the power of concentration is essential in preparing for true meditation work and gaining control over our minds.
Understanding the Components of Thought
To fully grasp the power of concentration, it is crucial to understand the different components of thought. We are not just our thoughts; we are the thinkers behind them. Distinguishing between the true Self, or the Soul, and the apparatus we use to think, the mind, is essential. Additionally, we must acknowledge the process of thought itself, as well as the brain’s role in conveying impressions and information.
Training the Mind: Making it a Servant, Not a Master
The objective of our endeavours is to train the mind to become our servants rather than our master. By cultivating the power of concentration, we can regulate and control our minds, using them as tools for our thoughts. This practice requires a constantly concentrated attitude towards life. Paying attention becomes the secret to success. Whether it’s in conversations, reading, writing, or any other activity, we must focus our thoughts and gradually develop the capacity to concentrate.
The Art of True Meditation: Intense Application of the Mind and Balance of Thought
True meditation is not a passive activity; it requires intense application of the mind. It demands utmost control over our thoughts and an attitude of balance between negativity and positivity. By engaging in true meditation, we can unlock the door that leads from darkness to light, from death to immortality, and from the unreal to the Real.
Conclusion: Embracing Concentration for Mental Clarity
In a world filled with distractions and constant interruptions, the power of concentration is more important than ever. It is the key to unlocking mental clarity and finding meaning in our lives. By understanding the impact of distractions, harnessing the power of meditation, and cultivating the art of concentration, we can overcome the challenges of the modern world and stay focused on what truly matters. Let us embrace the power of concentration and embark on a journey towards a more centered and fulfilling existence.
Elise Phillipson & AM Team
MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP
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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.