Wise people say that your experience is determined by where your attention goes.
If you place your attention on what is wrong that will be your experience. If you place your attention on what is touching or joyous, that will be your experience.
And much of the time we are not choosing. I am not choosing. I am simply lost in thought. Or to speak more accurately all that is in attention is thoughts chasing each other around with little or no external interest or reference.
So...at the suggestion of one of my teachers (in fact he suggested this to someone else, but it was clearly applicable to me too) I am going to do a 24 hour time and motion study entitled: Where does my attention go?
Of course the fact that I'm paying attention will change the experience (there's no way of getting away from that one) but I'm guessing that what I notice will still be of interest.
I've decided to post some of what I discover on this blog in the hope that you may find it interesting.
I started at 1pm UK Time on 16th May 2009.
Here is my first entry:
* Thinking is the predominant activity and default position. Even if I am meditating (as I was for the last 20 minutes) much of the time is spent thinking. It's spam and chips, spam and peas, spam and spam [This is a Monty Python reference for anyone mystified by this and is the origin of the phrase "spam" in the internet world].
* When I am meditating, much attention is drawn to DISCOMFORT as it the thing that is screaming loudest for attention, as it is also now drawn there.
* As I notice this I am able to put my attention on the dancing trees outside my window, swaying in the wind. I'm immediately touched and my heart is filled with love. My experience is transformed!
And my Second Entry...
Felt a pang of sadness combined with some existential angst! Realised that I'd been lost in thought, worrying. A couple of minutes earlier had been blissfully happy listening to music. There was no problem. Reminded again that problems only exist in thought.
Dancing to the music - getting involved, getting touched! Huge change in experience and so quickly!
Have been lost in thought for the past 5 mintues - so easy to go AWOL without noticing!
What is interesting is not how much time attention is in thought (we knew that already) but how thin the experience is compared to being out and available to be touched by the world! I truly spend most of my time in the shack in the garden, when I have access to a palace!
Dancing 5 Rhythms at Sue Rickards' Class in Tufnell Park. Attention mostly on the music, feelings, the body, the floor, the other dancers, energy. Thoughts occurring but relatively few. Amazing how different this is to the 9 hours preceding!
Out for bagels after dance. Much more in touch with the silence. Many fewer thoughts. Awareness spacious and gently roaming. Nothing needs to happen. No thoughts are needed to fill the void. Perfectly comfortable with the void.
Waking up in thought. Dreamstate thought merging into waking-state thought. No thought free state of grace as I open my eyes!
Meditation. Beautifully relaxing, delightfully still, much emptiness and still lost in thought 1/3 to 1/2 of the time!
Went to buy milk and cheese in the rain, mostly thinking and cut off from the weather. Now inside and touched, excited, opened, by the rain, hard, soft, continuous wet! Love falling from the sky!
Getting excited by the poem and wanting to share it widely...Fall into internet, lost in thought. Feeling a little cut off. I notice that it has stopped raining. When did that happen? I missed it.
Finishing studying Anatomy and Physiology for the morning. Have remained "in thought" for most of the past hour, even when I've been taking breaks - have hardly come up for air! Now starting to see the sunshine, be touched by the dancing trees in the wind. Able to hear and see the cars on the road outside.
*Experiment ends* (at least formally).