Single-Mindedness

Stepping away from distraction and divided attention

The light of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. — Jesus (Matthew 6:22)

 

To be whole, authentic, we’re advised to be single-minded—present in the light of Now, present in the light of consciousness. I refer to the Now as “light” because focused attention on whatever we’re doing in the moment illuminates the true self. Single-minded concentration—centering on the breath or a significant word—is what we do in meditation. In the East they call it “one-pointedness.” We can practice this at other times as well, by focusing wholeheartedly and whole-mindedly on our thoughts and activities throughout the day. 

By removing distractions, even significant ones, single-minded focus promotes deeper understanding and appreciation, greater efficiency in performance and lessens the prospect of  challenges becoming a burden. Also, we get to the essence of the situation quicker. Double or multiple-mind divides consciousness into parts that vie for prominence. Single-mind is like a laser. When thought is focused and sustained it becomes coherent.

Coherence means the quality of forming a unified whole… The cornerstone of coherence is the experience of being a unified whole in our own right as individuals.Diana Durham, Author of Coherent Self, Coherent World: A new synthesis of Myth, Metaphysics & Bohm’s Implicate Order.

Because our reality is constantly changing, divided mind is the norm. Thoughts and images race through our consciousness continuously, like a stream of television channels that can only be paused momentarily. With many of them being meaningless distractions, at times annoying, frustrating and exhausting, it’s refreshing to pause and focus, to become single-minded, to allow the observer and the observed to become one. For many, a time comes when there’s a hunger, an urge for this, for that which endures despite change. 

According to my dear friend and mentor, Beatrice Bruteau, the “unification of consciousness, usually called concentration” accomplishes this. The following is from her book What We Can Learn From The East.

How do you do this concentration? You just BE what you’re actually doing at the moment, without thinking or feeling about the fact that you’re doing it. When you set your hand to the plow, you just concentrate on plowing and go straight ahead without looking back to see what you plowed, or how well you plowed. You don’t allow the mind to divide into two, half on plowing and half on plowed. You notice the plow, the field, whatever you have to attend to in order to plow straight and merge your whole mind into the objective reality of these things in order that the plowing be done correctly. Put all your feelings into this plowing because this is where your life is at the moment. You have no other life here and now except is plowing. Therefore, feel this plowing thoroughly, feel it everywhere you can… Become plowing. This is you at this moment. This is where you really are what you are really doing. That’s how you center yourself, how you concentrate. You will be in your inner chamber, and you will be aware of that life is gushing up to you at that point, that your being is being sustained from moment to moment. You are in immediate contact with your Source. This is keeping the consciousness single. And sure enough, when this eye is single, the whole body is filled with light.

In his famous book, Be Here Now, Ram Dass (whom I had the pleasure of interviewing in the early ‘80s) talks about the busyness of life, and how, when he found himself reflecting on the past and planning for the future, he reminded himself to be in the moment, present in the light of Now, the place where our true self resides. 

I find that being single-minded, present, observing what I’m thinking, seeing or doing and holding my attention on it for a while, is expansive. I think this is what photographer Dorothea Lang meant when she observed that “Photogaphy takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” Holding, noticing, attending, concentrating, focusing the mind in the midst of change and distractions may be one of the great appeals of photography. When the eyes of mind and camera are single, the whole body and experience is full of light.  

If you continue worrying about what might be and wondering what might have been, you will ignore what is… It is good to learn from the past, but the future can only be positively fulfilled by focusing exclusively on the present. It’s the only action that supports life, that enables everything to be the best it can be, all unfolds from and happens only in Now.  Isira Sananda, Australian spiritual leader and author.

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I welcome your comments at <smithdl@fuse.net>

My portfolio site: DavidLSmithPhotography.com

My Photography Monographs

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