Life is the Teacher

‘Life is the teacher.’

What does this statement mean? It means searching for a more refined attention in my busy everyday life. It’s only there, if I’m honest, when I can really see the many different sides to myself. My search is not a separate compartment of my life. It’s not a ‘meditation practice’ left behind after closing the door to a ‘peaceful’ room. My search has to be tested in life. It’s easy to say ‘be here now’ but, if I’m really honest with myself, I can’t BE HERE NOW. Reading all the books in the world will not help me BE HERE NOW. A cold shiver running down my spine – a sense that one day I will die – wakes me up to a big question: who am I? Are other questions there?

  • Do I sense my bodily tension when I’m in a crowded place?
  • Do I sense a different tone in my voice when I’m in this or that situation?
  • Where is my attention NOW?

I often feel I’m right, that I know better. In life, when people ‘push my buttons’, my shallow self-satisfaction disappears instantly. I react, usually negatively, with a lot of ‘inner talking’. This reaction is energy. Everything is energy. My attention is the way I can better ‘see’ this energy in myself, allowing me sometimes to sense a finer energy there. Attention can bring a greater sense of being alive, here and now, more alert, engaged with my life. I can’t do this alone. A Group is needed to share my honest observations and listen to the sincere struggles of other people. I need guidance from someone who has ‘gone before’, someone who has also searched sincerely over a period of time. Sensing a finer attention inside my body, only then, can life be the teacher.

The next Café Gurdjieff event in Central London is at 11am on Saturday 4 March. For details and to register to participate go to our Meetup Group.

Reflections on Working with Attention

‘Every human being, at birth, receives a certain quantity of this vital force, and, in the course of his or her existence, it will be the integrator of all things within and of everything manifested’.

Henriette Lannes. This Fundamental Quest. P 58.

Attention is a type of ‘inner focussing’. Concentration is when one of my centres, usually my head, is focused on one single task at hand– often to the exclusion of my other senses. The result is that when I am concentrating, often I don’t hear sounds, feel sensations or notice things going on around me. I am active in one centre only.

Attention can be consciously divided, between oneself and the outside world (which we call self-remembering), or between two or more centres. For example, I may feel a habitual emotion and, at the same time, consciously bring some attention to bear on a certain part of my body or on my breathing. The emotion loosens its grip on me and I gain a certain sensation of being grounded, being ‘lighter’ and more open to my inner world and to what life is offering me in that moment. I become aware of a finer energy at my disposal. I sense a vivifying force at play. . I am now active in two centres.

These moments are fleeting – even though the possibilities are always there. However, it leaves a taste and a wish for more. If I am awake, I can intentionally find that sensation again. Even when I am asleep or daydreaming, a moment of real attention can be gifted to me and jolt me out of my slumber. Before I know it though, life’s chloroform effect has put me back into a state of waking sleep. It becomes a question for me and I develop a curiosity about this extraordinary phenomenon.

How can I extend these moments of gathered attention? Do I really have to wait for them to come to me or can I be more proactive in seeking them?

Attention is like a muscle. It gets stronger the more it is used.

A state of Attention has a special quality which can be perceived by others. It can call the other person’ to action’ – if only briefly – and leave a lasting impression. In a Group meeting James Moore once said: ‘The most valuable thing you can ever give someone is your Attention’ – but most of the time I am asleep to that possibility. My task is to wake up!

The next Café Gurdjieff event on The Power of Attention will take place on Saturday 18 June at 11am in Central London. Details here: http://www.meetup.com/Cafe-Gurdjieff-London/events/231652005/