This is a guest post written by Art on Open Focus Ning blog some time ago. I found it very insightful and I asked him/her for permission to publish it on my website.
It is not uncommon that one needs years to get the true insight to that process and to experience it being fully aware what is happening on sensory level being able to modify it accordingly (not only following the exercises).
I remember Dr Fehmi himself saying that he was formulating his four attention styles theory over years making many self discoveries on the way.
Open Focus has given me many successes over the last seven years, but when I read about being in OF all day long one still gets a little skeptical. I’ve used OF to dissolve severe tooth pain – the throbbing type that will not allow you to sleep. My occasional basketball game is now played in an Alpha state thanks to OF – allowing me making 4 or 5 shots in a row with no effort. After a few years my natural self-conscious disappeared without even realizing it. But there was still was something missing.
Trying to use OF in my professional life was still a mystery. No matter what angle I attempted, certain stresses still had a hold of me. Now I have pieced things together after realizing the answers were hiding in plain sight.
Dr. Fehmi wrote “Attention to Attention” to help the public understand Open Focus. After putting this paper on the shelf for a few years, (not an easy read) my intuition told me to reread the “Arousal Portal” section. This line stood out:
“one may become aware of a narrow-immersed attention in the center of awareness which is simultaneously surrounded and permeated by a diffuse-objective attention.” (Attention to Attention, page 18)
The “center of awareness” describes foreground attention and “simultaneously surrounded and permeated,” describes background attention.
This went over my head 5 years ago, but now this line hit me right in the face. This is how to live in OF all day long, no matter what stress comes up. Only having some good experience of the four different attentions styles will allow you to fully understand what he is saying here. After some more reading I created the first graphic posted here.
In order to stay in OF in a walking state of consciousness your foreground attention should be narrowly focused on what you are doing at the moment – lets say watching TV. As you narrowly focused on TV, immerse your attention into watching TV. This narrow – immersed attention is your foreground.
Now with your foreground attention established, diffuse your background attention to include all your senses while you watch TV. As you include all your senses objectify them and include a sense of space of all your senses.
This is easier said than done, that’s why there are 16 OF exercises, each building on the other. But now you have a model that will tie in all of the exercises together. The ultimate goal is to be in a state of mind that can handle and deal with all forms of stress.
The first two attention relationships 1-narrow vs. diffuse attention 2-objective vs. immersed attention are described anywhere OF is mentioned, but the third equally important relationship is not: 3-foreground vs. background attention. Many OF exercises use this third relationship, yet it is not included in any graphics explaining OF.
How to arrange these three relationships so one can live in OF throughout the day is described in Dr. Fehmi’s paper, but the information needs to be “decoded” so someone with no or limited experience with OF exercises can comprehend what is being described. This is what I am doing here.
There are basically nine lines in this paper that spoke to me, starting at page 16 to 18. I’ve included them here and also highlighted them and some other interesting material in the attached paper “Attention to Attention – highlight.”
“Open Focus attention is defined here as the simultaneous integration of all the described styles (Quadrants A, B, C and D, Figure 1) of attention, e.g., a narrow absorption embedded in a diffuse objectivity. This represents an integrated form of attention, in which we perceive the whole field of available experience while centering upon what is relevant or most important.” (Attention to Attention, page 16)
The word “centering” is referring to foreground attention.
“Each restructured pair of attention styles, narrow-immersed or diffuse-objective attention, appears to represent the simultaneous functioning of combined sympathetic and parasympathetic processes along with equal activation of left and right brain hemisphere processes.” (Attention to Attention, page 18)
In the last two quotes ”narrow-immersed” and “diffuse-objective” are directly stated.
“A most significant distinction between transformed attention and more ordinary forms is the presence in the former of a conscious over-witness of limitless sensory experience existing in space.” (Attention to Attention, page 19)
This experience of space keeps getting better and better as you repeat some OF exercises. It becomes easier it integrate this space in your walking conscious over time. Unfortunately, I have never practiced any neurofeedback, so I can only assume that this advanced attention model is taught once you have a consultation with a OF trainer. All I have used is the OF exercises along with the accompanying user guides availably through the openfocus.com website. So anyone who cannot access feedback equipment can still rework his or her attention style over time. Having a little understanding of the OF framework will speed up your success.
Finally, the first paragraph on page 128 of “The Open Focus Brain,” describes someone dissolving his fear of heights using the very framework I just explained, the only difference is that the process is not formally explained in the book.
In my next follow up post, I will give an overview of the OF crash course I underwent in the last 6 months and give an explanation of how some of the OF exercises relate to the framework I just reveled.
I believe symilar experience was described in Dr Fehmi’s first book on page 5 (see the link https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=3hAcT8rOIUMC&q=kidney+stone… ).
During dissolving pain process you want to narrow your attention on the strongest part of the pain letting yourself dive into it (the foreground) being aware of its surroundings and other stymuli and space at the same time (the background). In this way you can combine narrow immersed and diffused objective/immersed attention styles attenting in Open Focus.
Please, let us know your thoughts.
More about the foreground and the background you can read here.