This is a hard subject, because – well, it’s personal for me, because I’ve always had attention problems – and only recently truly REALIZED that I have ADHD. I always knew it.. but when I read something about Hyperfocus as a weird kind of side effect a lot of ADHD folks have, where one ‘thing’ gets EXCLUSIVE attention and it leads to a kind of Euphoria feeling…
that’s when I knew I had it ’cause everything else fit already.
So now, I have to learn about attention – not from a “how to cope with ADHD’ website but by plunging into the depths of what current science has to offer.
The funny thing about this:
In my readings and trainings to become a monk, I learned a LOT about Attention, because meditation / prayer requires focus and attention and dealing with distracting thoughts.
So this is a subject I’m very familiar with from the Meditation/prayer techniques of the ancient monks who lived in the caves.
My deepest inspiration was the Philokalia, which is basically about hesychasm (“quietness”), – and is very easy to read and gives boatloads and boatloads of advice on simply: How to Pay attention (be attentive) – because their whole prayer lives are dedicated to that task – and these people would spend LIFETIMES mastering it.
The surprise to me is that there is SO LITTLE that Science has done in investigating this so far: This barrier between your inner self and your outerself. I mean, there’s psychology techniques – and a lot of techniques which help people with alcoholism and drug abuse, etc – but many of these techniques are practical and not not quite so scientific in basis. They WORK though – that’s the thing – they WORK… but the “What really happens in the brain?” part – scientific community has a long way to go to catch up.
So, I guess what I’m working towards is this:
An ACCURATE, Practical Guide on how to be aware and live, be able to be absorbed in the moment and yet responsive to new stimuli that come at you, either from the inside or outside. Getting things done, sorting out your thoughts (what’s important, what isn;t), how to make quick decisions that are correct… How to edit what you say before you say it… and about a hundred other potentially impossible things.
But mostly iIt’s in the end, a Thought Collector.
I’ve been working on a Thought Collector on and off since I was a teenager. A thread that’s been running through my life. And… realizing that the lifespan of these TYPES of thoughts that I’ve been trying to capture are between 15-20 seconds in duration – MAYBE 30… it helps explain why it has been SO HARD for me to catch them, when I live in a chaotic noisy environment.
I’ve been chasing after “notions” / “thoughts” that are fleeting, quick, don’t hang around long at all… and I feel a sense of loneliness and emptiness when they’re gone, irretrievable… and happiness when I capture them.
Butterflies of the mind.
Wow… You guys are helping me flesh out my thoughts right now. I think… all this time… I needed an audience who likes me and is interested in my rambling ideas on this – and who I am interested in as well.
Noah and Jim, you are helping me more than you know right now.
I hadn’t realized until now just how important this was to me, because months or years can go by without me working on it. Yet, in a closet, is 5 typewriters. In a drawer are various keyboard-based notetaking devices. I have 3 x5 notepads filled with ideas through the years on various things… index cards… text files – several cassette recorders, microcassette tapes… voice-to-text programs… programs I’ve written in BASIC, Turbo Pascal, on a Sharp Wizard OZ770, a Thought Collector I wrote for Android but never released (voice-to-text with instant feedback – she speaks what you said right after you said it while also catching it in a text file on the droid)… …
I studied Buddhist medditation (Vipassana style), learned about Christian monastic techniques for controlling thoughts… learned about what foods and things you can eat and drink that improve attention (Caffeine and stimulants are #1 of course – the fact that stimulants help people with ADHD focus is no surprise to me) –
I never found a system that 100% works for me yet. That’s one of my goals.
But if you want a mental image of my ultimate goal that is in a movie: That moment in The Matrix where Neo is completely aware of everything around him and has control of it. It’s that state of self-actualization that I’m working towards. But not primarily for myself: But rather for everybody. I probably sound crazy But I know its possible. Nothing is impossible if you have tenacity. – stick-to-itness.
I’m nobody special. But I can do something to help the world in some way – a mission.
Minister, psychologist, professor.
12 years old.
Those were the things that everybody pegged me for.
Minister, psychologist/therapist, professor.
I’m starting to see… that I may become all three.
1) Passionate about this, as a minister is passionate about faith.
2) Getting an understanding of the mind of self and other like a psychologist
3) Needing to be rigorously accurate and teach it to others.
Thank you again guys. You are helping me feel free to write about these things. It’s in public for the world to see, yet I know that two people are listening. That makes all the difference.