Monday, February 8, 2016

Open Focus

I read a book a few years ago about something called Open Focus ("The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body," by Les Fehmi and Jim Robbins). The idea is this: some people who meditated achieved an "alpha" state: measurable brain activity indicated deep, centered contemplation. Others struggled.

But something surprising happened when those laggard meditators were asked to do what would seem to be simple: imagine space. That is, while meditating consider the distances around and between things. Think about the area enveloping your tongue, the distance between left shoulder blade and right collar bone. All of these suggestions were about visualizing dimensions within the body.

Let me add the notion of pondering the rippling horizon over waves (Chicago), the sheer volume of distance from foot to mountain top (Denver). Feel free to add in your own moment of connection with the larger, natural world. This captures, I feel, the Taoist ideal signified in so many paintings: small people, big world.

When meditators did that, they ALIGNED. They got it. Big time apha waves.

My takeaway: the combination of meditative practice and the visualization of volume has unusual power to expand our spiritual insights and peace.

I think, I apprehend, I process, in poetry. First, let me express this insight as philosophic haiku:

an aspect of space
is spirituality:
volume is holy

That's true, I think. But although it follows the form, it doesn't follow the spirit. It ain't poetry.

But this, I hope, is:

in the Irish pub
she lifts her river green eyes
to skyscraper top

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In November of 2018, I left my position at ALA in Chicago to return to my Colorado-based writing, speaking, and consulting career. So I'...