How The Way You Pay Attention Could Be Causing You Stress, Pain and Illness
I have just read two books by Les Fehmi PhD, who is the director at the Princeton Biofeedback Centre. Dissolving Pain: Simple Brain-Training Exercises for Overcoming Chronic Pain and The Open-Focus Brain: Harnessing the Power of Attention to Heal Mind and Body
I wish I had known about this technique 30 years ago.
In essence, Dr Fehmi noticed that when people focused on Space, their brain went into an alpha state, which is a semi alert state. By Space I mean you imagine the space in the room, the space around your thumb, the distance between your eyes, the space between the atoms in your thumb, the space from inside your thumb to outside your thumb.
Our brains have been trained to be alert for objects, we focus on the chair, the person, the car on the street. But we don’t focus on the space in between things. So when we do, our brain can settle down and not have to assess that space, how to handle it, if it’s a danger etc, so it can relax.
Addicted to Narrow Focus
In our modern world we are addicted to being narrow focused. We are programmed early on in life to pay attention in school, to stop day dreaming, to stick at the job, to concentrate hard. We are so achievement oriented that we never give our brains time out. And if we do, we think we have to do some kind of deep meditation, which for a lot of us is hard because our brains are actually changing with all the technology we use. Our attention span is so fast, is so restless, is so overwhelmed and bombarded with information, that to settle into the nothingness of Space, feels as if we are wasting time.
We literally are addicted to being narrow focused. Over time this sort of focused attention can play havoc with our mind and body, but especially our eyes. Our eyes and our survival are linked together, such a narrow focus, literally, will impact our eyes over time. Our field of vision becomes so small when we concentrate, we block out everything around us to get the job done.
Fight Flight Freeze
Retraining our Brain, affects our body/emotions/spirit, they are all interconnected. Retrained our brain so that it’s not always in fight/flight/freeze mode, means it will react to the environment differently. We think that this stress response can only be in relation to traumas, but it’s not. It’s the way we live in this world, we are always having to assess our environment for danger, it’s just how our primal brains react. A car coming down the street has to be assessed, even images on Facebook have to be assessed. Are you fearing an email you don’t want to read? The modern world can come right into your personal space so easily.
We have so many stress related illnesses these days, anxiety, depression and pain.
Dr Fehmi uses questions to train the brain to notice space, but it’s so easy to do, just be aware of Space, right now you can be reading this article, but seeing the space in between the lines, then the space between the letters, the space on either side of your computer, the distance between your nose and your toes, the space between your ears, the space behind your back.
Pain in the Brain
This method can be used for dissolving pain as well, of course you have to be sensible here and I’m advising you to see your Doctor about pain. Pain is felt in the brain, not the body, hard to believe, so changing our brains is how we can change the pain.
You can focus on the space around the pain, focus on the space in the area of pain and sense the space between say your chin and the pain, the space between your nose and the pain.
I noticed after one night of doing these exercises the nature of my dreams had lightened up. And my aches and pains went when doing the Space exercise. I’m very excited now to see the way I’m using my mind is causing me stress in my life.
Have you noticed a relaxation response while reading this article about how to focus on Space?