Black Holes of Attention
What is your most valuable asset? No, it’s not your Bitcoin shares, though they would have come close a year ago when the price was over $60,000. It’s not money and it’s not even time, though they are related to it. It’s your attention, or more specifically, your “soma,” defined as the flow of your consciousness. What is receiving your consciousness, both internally and externally? This is what is being nurtured in your life, whether it’s what you truly value or not.
Most people complain that they don’t have enough time (I’m often one of them). But it’s not time we are lacking but good soma management. For the most part, people’s attention and with it, their energy, is being dumped into black holes where it’s either wasted outright or worse, placed on something that holds us back. Here are some examples:
Non-possessions–Our non-possessions possess us more than our possessions. We spend a great deal of our awareness currency on the things we would like to acquire. Once we have things, we tend to forget them almost immediately. This obsession with things we don’t have comes from a false concept that things outside the self can fulfill us.
Stuff–a house full of clutter is like kryptonite for our soma. Every little thing is taking its micro-share of attention and the overall effect is a dragging down of the awareness.
Our problems–We worship our problems more than anything. It may seem an odd thing to say, but worship is simply the offering of soma, and our problems are often top of the list. Where attention goes grows so in a sense, we’re just watering the weeds.
Blame and excuses–the greatest hindrance to enlightenment for a meditator is the belief that we as an individual have a “right” to suffer. “It’s my body holding me back, it’s my family, my ex…anyone would suffer under these circumstances.” Any time we spend our attention on suffering justification it’s taking us in circles.
Seeking validation–so much attention for some people goes towards seeing the attention of someone else. This comes from believing that someone else is in possession of your fulfillment and only they can give it to you. Every being in creation loves to receive soma, just look at those experiments of the plants that when talked to end up growing and flourishing far more than their ignored counterparts. But when we meditate, we go to the source of soma flow, it’s like the sun compared to a flashlight, so we lose dependency on validation from the outside.
Reviewing the past/Rehearsing the future–It’s easy to get into a pattern where the awareness is simply bouncing back and forth between rummaging through memories and rehearsing our future. It’s not to say that some degree of reflection and forethought is valuable, but when it is dominant to having the awareness on the present, we are missing the whole point. So much of our need to rehearse the future especially comes with the belief that one’s fulfillment dependent on outcomes. When your fulfillment is experienced from within through meditation, there’s no need to try and control the future (which you can’t really do anyway).
Distractions and addictions–Last but not least, distractions…social media, junk food, trash mags. When we are stressed, our consciousness is uncomfortable so it seeks distraction from its discomfort. These are coping mechanisms for stress and they take a vast amount of attention, way more than we even realize (just look at your phone’s usage data, it can be shocking). Addictions to substances are even more extreme maladaptations to stress and they will take not only your soma but everything else if left unchecked.
When we learn to harness our flow of consciousness towards what we truly value, there’s no limit to what we can do. This is one of meditation’s greatest benefits.
I often think of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in regard to this concept. He didn’t even start his movement until he was middle-aged and organized multiple charitable organizations, health clinics, organic farms, wrote books, not to mention organizing a movement that resulted in millions of people learning to meditate in a couple of decades. This vast list of accomplishments is the result of laser focused attention flow. What he said no to was just as important as what he said yes to. There was no drag on his attention so he could be right on cue for the need of the times.
When we are first initiated into Vedic Meditation, it is the first time the flow of awareness, which up until then flows outward through the five senses, turns around and flows in the direction of its source. After lifetimes of seeking fulfillment on the outside, it finally realizes it’s been there all along. By returning over and over again to the source of soma, we as meditators become soma billionaires. Our awareness is not just going to outside objects but is experienced in its full spectrum all the way to Being even in the waking state. Our consciousness naturally then vacillates between enjoying its own existence in stillness and moving into activity with efficiency and purpose.
If what you want is more time and more effectiveness, then what you need is less stress and fewer attention black holes. Becoming a witness and a curator of your own attention is one of the best ways to create positive change in your life and in the world.