The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

The locus of attention

It is not possible to constantly pay attention to everything when working on a task. Which leads to the possibility that what one pays attention to will differ. Experience and preferences will determine the choice.

Three options might be evident: Internal, external process, and external result. At least two other loci may become available: neutral and transcendental.

Let me only give a brief overview of them.

The internal locus of attention invites to pay attention to how the task is executed. It aims at taking the right steps or controlling one’s movements. It’s focused on following instructions.

The external process locus of attention is the idea that one’s action can lead to a specific impact. It’s the idea that knowing what to do to achieve the task will allow for the desired effect to happen.

Choosing external result as one’s locus of attention is the idea that one can imagine what one’s action will create. It’s also the understanding that one doesn’t always need to know how things are being done. But also that they cannot always be described precisely.

The choice of a neutral locus of attention is one that voluntarily involves something that resembles a distraction. It can for example be counting down from 10 while performing.

The fifth locus of attention, the transcendental one, is one that one can rarely choose to enter voluntarily. It simply appears if circumstances allow and resemble being in the flow.

The nuances between these loci of attention may not be easy to perceive. And in a way, it’s less the point here, than to highlight differences and allow oneself to figure them out.

One can say that they all differ in trust and competence.

Using the internal locus of attention gives the most control possible to the execution, which might be very useful when one seeks to learn the execution and learn from how it happens. The least control is available in the transcendental locus of attention, where it is about letting go and stepping into the action without preconception. However, it can allow the highest performance. The difference between the two external loci of attention may be in the need to know how something is done. Through imagining what the result shall be, there is trust in the idea that the achieved impact will lead to the desired outcome. By focusing on the process one wants to implement, there is an effort to control specific aspects of the action as they are seen to be essential to achieving a desired result.

Using the neutral locus of attention serves a different purpose. It mainly is there to assist the mind in executing the task as it is trained to do. The used distraction is there to help the mind let go of expectations or pressure it might be subject to in the given circumstances.




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