The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Small things

Meditation has a lot to do with learning small things. However, when taking a second look it suddenly becomes the big thing.

Learning the three basic types of meditation, focused attention, open awareness, and body scan can go far beyond the experience of meditation itself.

Focused attention is there to build focus as well as stability of the mind. The way it works is by placing one’s attention on a focal point. As it happens that attention is pulled away the practice simply is there to bring attention back to the focal point.

It teaches kindness and care towards oneself, acknowledges that we may become distracted, and allows a smooth way back to the initial intention. It may take time to develop such gentleness, and that may simply be on top of the practice to always come back to the intention and task of paying focused attention to something you do.

There is no doubt, that this is useful once one realizes how often we interrupt ourselves while accomplishing a task. It is about every 10 and a half minutes. The interruptions themselves are much less a problem than the time it can take us to get back into the task, which can be slightly more than 23 minutes. This can lead to a sense of being stressed as it seems that we realize the delay and start to work faster in these ten and a half minutes.

Open awareness is a meditation practice that helps us to stay present in the moment and observe whatever is happening in that given moment. It’s an astonishing amount of things. Thoughts, emotions, physical sensations, or perhaps insights will show up and give us information we’ve rarely been aware of until then.

The practice teaches us to observe whatever is happening within our area of awareness without pushing any of it away.

It’s a practice that can be expanded to any type of meeting for example. It helps us to become aware of the more subtle things happening during the meeting and slows reactions down. From observing our own experience we’ll have learned that a lot of it can just be let go.

A third common practice is the body scan. What it helps do is a map of our body. One that assists in becoming aware of our body and physiological signs of emotions throughout the body. It’s a practice that combines a conscientious scan of every area of the body, thus being focused on the space scanned while using open awareness to let any information show up.

I was reminded of this practice while participating in a group relations conference a few days ago. One part of our task was to stay aware of what was happening to the event as a whole. We observed how the whole group was shaped by the separate events in which we participated trying to become aware of the interactions between the events. Similarly, there are times in which we better scan the different areas of work we are attending to or our teams are attending to. Taking the time to become aware of how the different teams are interacting and what mood is shaping these follows the principles of a body scan. Thus allowing to keep an overview of the existing tensions and how they are supporting the work to be done or not.


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