Attention Please


Have you ever noticed that you can control the focus of your vision? it probably happens without you being consciously aware; but the lens in your eye deforms to adjust the near or far focus, from fine-grained detail to the wide vista of the whole visual field. But watch – it is your choice whether to take in the big picture or focus the beam of attention on a pinpoint. Whatever you place your awareness on will become larger, more detailed, more IMPORTANT.

I first noticed this effect in my younger years (ahem!) while experimenting with different modes of consciousness, sometimes with the help of various medicines. I saw that my mind would latch onto something and be utterly fascinated by, for instance, a cellophane wrapper taken off the New Hendrix Album (Electric Ladyland, as it happened) watching it unfold and expand till it seemed it could engulf the house! (those were also interesting times)

The point I’d like to make here is that it is more than the physical structure of the eyeball that determines what we see. In fact we regularly block out 90% of the information coming in by way of the medium of LIGHT, so that we can pay undistracted attention to some aspect of the world that we deem important enough to follow.

Now be surprised – The same effect pertains to our perception of sound. Its an ability less often used by ‘normal’ people; but musicians (and other conscious listeners) have trained themselves to pick out distinct threads from the tapestry of sound and recognise individual voices, different instruments, melodies, and over time, can sense the structures of music and the development of an invisible architecture into which we enter as we would a gallery of many images.

The mind is the organ of perception which decodes and translates all incoming data, sorts these into types and selects which inputs add up to something which should be attended ….. or not.

Your Choice, of course; but next time you’re listening to any kind of music, tune your inner receiver to one instrument or repeating sound. ignore the singing and words (if any). Pick out the Bass, for example; because it is often registered subliminally. If there’s a human involved in the music you can project your thought THROUGH the sound towards the source, which in this case would the Bass and the person operating it.

As you listen more deeply you can slip through the objective, receptive stance and Feel the finger plucking the strings, feeling the groove, aware of the choices they make, which note will come next? Now you are participating in the music’s intent. No longer a passive consumer of sound you can engage subjectively in the wonder of creating something out of nothing.

Learn to listen and everything will be music to your ears.

If you’re still curious I heartily recommend the movie ‘August Rush’. It describes in a beautiful story the effect I’m speaking of here. His world is a lot like mine, and maybe yours – if you can hear it.

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