This post is one of the most important posts I have done in other forums, wanted to share my findings
All my life I have done what is called Narrow Focus meditation in scientific papers. It is the popular attention based meditation in an object, for example a Mantra. It can be applied to meditations following the breath on the nostril or the mid section, its rise and fall and its sensations. In mindfulness we also observe Body, Feelings, Mind contents and Dhammas as described in the Sattipathana Sutta. All of these are based on focusing on a passing object, and letting it go. You know the drill.
A way to categorize this is naming it Narrow Focus.
One of my hobbies is exercise, one of my strategies is to understand that any approach to exercise has an opposite approach as well, both beneficial.For example: when I lift weights with high resistance I benefit because of its anaerobic muscle building and strength benefit. Its complement is low resistance high speed Cardio which benefits circulation and heart. You need both to balance your body.
Narrow Focus is one approach, Open Focus is different. It is Pure Awareness of the space before you, periphery, up (e.g. sky) and bottom. Its observing the Totality without focusing on any object. In Dzogchen the sky meditation is a good example, in Soto Zen is facing a wall that creates a Ganzfield which has been attributed to let the mind rest since it nothing new is being presented. I have used Flotation Tanks where I am totally weightless in darkness, you become disembodied very quickly and merge into the Totality. It is a state of Deep Rest. No external distractions.
Have you noticed when you have been intensively focueds on work and stressed out that you need a break. Well this frees you from Narrow Focus and solved byo Open Focus, usually achieved by a leisurely walk outside. Well, this can be a very good complimentary practice to Narrow Focus meditation, and as mentioned Dzogchen and Soto Zen have these additional practices. You let go of the breath and widen your field. I have found that Qi Gong is a wonderful practice to be aware of the space before you.
I experienced that Open Focus brings extraordinary clarity to my open surroundings, I treasure my dog walks 1 hour before sunset where the sun rays are strong in a low angle that brings astounding luminosity to objects, even watching the passing traffic in the road.Lawn sprinklers have their own surprising beauty. The wind rocking the trees, the sun rays bouncing off house rooftops, glistening bushes and flowers, its all there for free, every day !
I have found that Open Focus improves the non-grasping nature of my mind, everything JUST IS, without any opinion of my part, even its beauty is there following by more of beauty, truly enjoying the moment. And letting go of the beauty, it is there all by itself, no need to label it.
I believe we need Narrow Focus to improve your insight and grounding, the breath is a wonderful vehicle to take you there. It also helps my everyday life in work and relationships. You need to pay attention, specifically, to the many important things you need to do every day. Do it with precision and completeness Then you need Open Focus to understand the Totality and how "you" fit in it, As time goes on there is less of "you" and more of IT.
I hope I have raised your interest, if you want to know more do a Youtube on Open Focus by a scientist call Les Fehmi. He has a book called like this but did not find anything new there. There are a training out of Princeton University of many techniques to improve Open Focus skills.
Narrow Focus vs Open Focus is just one way to look at all this, it is just a categorization so we can communicate one of the many ways to approach our practice.
I hope this helps, So what do you think about all this ?
We will all benefit if any of you have found Open Focus in other traditions.
Casual conversation between friends. Anything goes (almost).
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