Reply To: Dr Mark Vernon's talk, A Revolution in Attention

  • Mary Attwood

    October 19, 2022 at 4:11 pm

    Here is a message from Mark Vernon that he asked me to post here in the discussion forum:

    Thanks very much for the thoughts and comments. At heart, I think that attentional freedom, or moving from left to right types of perception, might be summarised as a process of receptive opening. So any moment or experience or practice that presents such a possibility, without trying to possess or fully understand, is valuable. Included in that are moments of breakdown or ordeal, too, which might with time become known as undergoings of transformation.

    For myself, I’ve pursued a mixture of practices, including my own psychotherapy, which was much to do with my own suffering and resistances, as well as meditative and yoga practices, and increasingly at the moment, practices of devotion – Bhakti yoga, in Indian traditions, or worship, in Christian/Sufi. I’m finding freeing lighting candles, bowing before images, singing, talking about loving the texts or figures in Christianity and elsewhere – not fully understanding why, but letting the devotion do its expressive and liberative work. Studying figures like Dante and Blake are guides in this, deeping my sense of devotional possibilities: they help me see how sadness, suffering, even raging, as well as longing, delight and communion are part of the letting go to let loose and let in the more.

    I sense it’s important to pursue what feels genuinely at the edge of opening – that sweet spot of yearning, risk and love – which might vary substantially from person to person, and also across time for any one individual. We might need to practice and stick at something, so as to settle any knack required (like learning to use the breath as a support in meditation) and exploring the riches, which take time coming because they only come as we change and are able to receive them. But we also need to feel free too, so any practice or religious activity keeps its essential quality of vitality (which can be a subtle matter to discern because all the spiritual adepts tell us that dryness can be part of the process).