This is an introduction to my book about the four attention styles theory and attention flexibility. Its title is The Magic Terrace. This book has not been published yet but it is almost finished (there are still many language and grammar imperfections and I am going to send it to an editor and a proof reader).
This book is for those who look for answers – important answers about love, happiness, who we are, where we go after death, and whether life has any meaning. It will guide those who live in pain, who are anxious, depressed, feel stuck, and struggle with making decisions. It will help philosophers, scientists, physiologists, marketers, sales people, meditators and creators to gain a deep insight into reality and improve their skills. Finally, it will help you to shape your life in a healthier and happier way.
I know, it is a huge promise but I am sure you will soon be surprised how simple it is.
First you should realise that all stimuli like sounds, light, touch and smell once registered by receptors, (inside your ears, eyes, skin and nose) become electric currents travelling along nerves towards your brain. In the brain these currents are processed and your reality is shaped. It means that the whole world around you full of colours, shapes, sounds and smells with its beauty and diversity has to be translated to electric signals in order for you to perceive it. I will suggest you even more. All your knowledge, experience, beliefs, passions, and ideas become part of your reality as small electric charges. Imagine that even you, yourself are – in a way – a group of electric signals traveling across your brain.
It would be quite natural to suppose this electric processing in the brain has to fulfill certain rules as you would find in any other system of the body. For example, everyone knows that the heart pumps the blood and the rule is that when it stops we are in a trouble. Similar basic rules have to work in the brain. The only difference is that the brain shapes our reality. It means that all imaginable human activities including thinking, feeling, loving, fighting, craving and achieving, should be based on these rules. There should be a way to use them in science, mathematics, psychology, religion and spirituality. They should be universal for all people regardless of culture, tradition or language. They should also connect many seemingly unrelated aspects of reality because all reality we know is produced in our brains.
I hope it is clear to you now that once we define these rules we can get the key to understanding ourselves and the world around us and this is exactly what the Four Attentions Styles Theory offers. It describes a basic rule of the brain electrical processing and links it to the way we think, feel, behave and sense our reality.
How does it work ?
For example, you are reading these words now. In order to read, you focus on groups of black shapes arranged in lines. Your eyes are perceiving these shapes and translating them into small electric signals. These signals are being sent right now to an area of your brain towards the back of your head that is responsible for vision. They are processed there, and shared with the rest of your brain. Then, on the basis of your knowledge, experience and beliefs, they are being translated into letters, words and sentences – and they become meaningful to you.
This happens when you are focused on words. However, if you defocus slightly and widen your field of vision, you quickly notice that there is something else on the page in front of you. There is a lot of white space between and inside the letters. I would like you to realise, that the black letters and white space on the page are equally important in forming this page of text. Without white space the page would be completely black and without black letters the page would be only white. In either situation it would not be a page of text any more. Letters and white space are inseparable parts of the same thing – or, in other words they are the same thing.
The same applies if you replace a letter with any other object. For example, the book in your hands seems separated from you by empty space. Yet, if you defocus again (in three dimensions this time) you soon realise that empty space between you and the book and any other solid object around you is an integral part of the reality. As with the page of text, without space there would be only one solid object. Without objects there would be only empty space. Solids objects including you and space are inseparable parts of the same thing. In other words – they are the same thing.
The four attention styles theory
In order to live you life you need continously stay aware of a distinction between objects and space around them; and this must be one of the basic features of the brain’s electric code. It enables you to read, to walk without bumping into other people, and to sense a difference between you and the rest of the world. According to Dr Lester Fehmi, the neuroscientist and psychologist behind The Four Attention Styles Theory, your brain does it naturally all the time by generating electric signals that are out of sync (in alpha frequency).
It should be mentioned now that electric signals in the brain oscillate all the time traveling up and down along brain cells. You can compare them to rubber balls bouncing one next to another. They can be in sync (when they bounce together) or out of sync (when they have different speeds or directions).
When electric signals in the brain are out of sync, you are noticing objects (like letters on the page) excluding a ‘silent’ background from your awareness. This way of perception make all objects seemingly separated from one another. It is commonly associated with focusing (narrowing an attention) on things. We can say, that we attend the reality in the narrow and objective way (or style).
On the other hand when signals are in sync you are equally aware of objects and space between them. Everything seems connected and unified. This style of attention is called immersed. It tends to happen when we defocus (diffuse an attention) hence this style is described as diffused and immersed.
The Four Attentions Styles Theory says that when you are focused on objects, ignoring space between them, you are in the narrow/objective attention style and your brain waves are out of sync.
When you are simultaneously aware of objects and space, you are in the diffused/immersed attention style and your brainwaves are in sync.
Attention styles can be presented on a graph.
However unimportant it seems for you now, this small difference brings a profound change in the way your brain works and the way you think, feel and live your life.
Most of us rely on the narrow/objective attention style. Remember, I had to make you realise that there was white space on the page and that there is a lot of space around you. You naturally focus on objects ignoring space between them. Dr Fehmi says that overusing the narrow/objective attention style makes the brain electrically unstable. It fuels the sympathetic part of our autonomic nervous system responsible for the fight or flight response. It makes us tired, chronically stressed and brings hidden tension to our lives. It also gives us a distorted view of the world in which everything is separated and distant and it sometimes makes us feel lonely, helpless, anxious and depressed.
On the other hand, the diffused/immersed attention style makes the brain more synchronous and stable. It makes us more relaxed and switches our system to the rest and digest mode. Dr Fehmi argues that practising this style of attention helps to balance our physiology and to develop a new insight into reality. With this practice, health significantly improves, and it becomes more and more evident that everything is already connected, unified and working in harmony. Dr Fehmi designed a series of exercises that reinforce this style. He based them on his own experience from the attention training he has been carrying out for most of his life. He uses a neurofeedback machine of his own design that is calibrated on a specific brainwave pattern called ‘the whole brain synchrony in alpha frequency’. According to Dr Fehmi, this brainwave pattern is directly linked to the diffused/immersed style.
Dr Fehmi’s ultimate goal is to teach people how to develop flexible attention, which means that you can balance all attention styles at the same time. Attention flexibility is a very real experience that everyone can develop and enjoy. It brings a profound change in the way you behave and feel about the world. You can focus (narrow your attention) on objects staying diffused and feeling that everything is one at the same time. You see the materialistic side of the world (full of objects you can get) and you feel deeply the essence of spirituality (where everything is one, unified). You are truly balanced, fulfilled and happy. It also gives you a range of new skills such as relieving physical pain, reducing anxiety, solving problems, improving creativity, mastering your performance in whatever you do and many, many more.
To understand how flexible attention works, it is important to realise that an object could be anything you can focus on – a letter on this page, a sound, a smell, a problem, a thought in your head, a challenge, a future goal or a feeling coming from your body such as pain, anxiety or hunger. You may be ready to agree with me that in some sense you consider yourself as an object separated from the rest of the world. Non of these objects can exist without space around them. They need a ‘silent’ background to become noticeable for you. In the brain, they all are represented by electric signals being out of sync.
When you are attention flexible you have the ability to restore synchrony in your brain. You do it by becoming simultaneously and equally aware of an object and space around it. It makes an object merge with its background and dissolve. You can dissolve your physical pain, anxiety and fear. You can solve – or dissolve – problems or make your future challenges achievable with ease and joy. You see your opponent as a target which is distant from you (out of sync) and an integral part of you (in sync) at the same time. You can fight against him and love him at the same time. It stops you from freezing with fear or being overwhelmed with rage. You can remain balanced, having access to all of your resources and win a fight while staying in harmony with the world and your beliefs.
Continue to this post.