Pain is an example of how I can feel out of balance. Attention can change the experience of pain and/or imbalance. Perhaps you’ve had an experience like I’ve had – suffering from a pain somewhere in my body- and then smacking my thumb with a hammer. I remember how the shift of attention to my thumb suddenly seemed to “cure” the original pain.
That’s because I’m not good at consciously attending to more than one thought at a time, I have a preference for past solutions (see The Einstellung Effect), and through selective perception, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest” (Simon and Garfunkel, The Boxer), I exercise my capacity for focused…
A shift of my attention may be less than .0001% of the total thought volume and yet be significant enough to completely change what I experience.
Focused Attention => Perception => Experience => Sense of Being
Because of my facility for focused attention, I perceive an experience of who I am in relation to my work, my marriage, my family, my home, and etc. – as well as a sense of being out of balance, in need of something, suffering.
How does balance enter the equation, then? I want to live a balanced life, right? How can I be perfectly in balance and have an experience of being out of balance? Is it one OR the other – balance OR imbalance?
Can I be in AND out of balance at the same time?
Perhaps I can – due to an illusory form of thought and perception I experience as attention. This wondrous ability to shift my thought potential in one direction or another presents me with the illusion of experience, the illusion of physicality, the illusion of volition or free will, a sense of being out of balance – all the while maintaining balance.
Equal AND Opposite = Balance
A system that is in complete balance would, for every action, experience an equal and opposite reaction (Newton’s first law of motion) in order to stay in equilibrium. For example, let’s say I extend out 2 energetic units in one direction. To stay in balance, I would experience simultaneous extension of 2 energetic units in the opposite direction. 2 – 2 = 0. The entirety would result in non-experience, zero.
When it comes to consciousness, perhaps attention gives me an experience of imbalance while keeping the energetic books balanced:
Attention => imbalance experienced, balance maintained.
Imbalance and Focus!
What makes it seem like I’ve moved in a direction is that I’m attending to (focusing on) that one direction while neglecting alternatives. Focus determines the scope of that neglect. The more focused my attention, the broader the scope of neglect and the fewer alternatives I’ll perceive.
Suffering, then, may be more a matter of attention than condition. Remember the hammer example? Perhaps focus provides me with an illusion of pain intensity by placing alternatives within my scope of neglect. Shifting my attention even the slightest into my scope of neglect may offer me an alternative experience to the pain I’m suffering now.
Balance maintained. Experience changed.