a) The Significance of Open Attention
Open attention is the natural expression of a consciousness which is not preoccupied with achieving one thing or another. It is an impersonal attention, free of attachments, judgments, labeling. It is the attention of the Witness Consciousness. Therefore, it does not lose itself in the knowing of the object, but it maintains the awareness of the Spiritual Heart, of the source of attention itself.
b) How to Cultivate Open Attention
We remain in the present moment and we focus to perceive any sensation or impression which appears in the body or in the environment and, at the same time, we maintain the state of Witness Consciousness.
In other words, we remain in a state of observation full of love, free of the need to analyze, label or conceptualize. (It is a perception of the oneness in which everything that can be seen and felt, and is not separated or individualized. It is a unified perception in which whatever is seen, heard, touched etc. is kept in oneness, not separated. It is a contemplation of oneness, a panoramic “view” which embraces and encompasses the wholeness of Reality.)
c) Open Attention Increases the Sharpness of our Perceptions
The accuracy and the quality of perceptions change by virtue of the simple fact that our attention is directed towards them effortlessly (without strains or expectations). In this state, there are no preconceptions and no desire to push the energy or to direct it anywhere—we let it follow its own free path. Open Attention, free from the ego based tensions caused by the pursuit of various goals, spontaneously quiets the racing thoughts.
Our perception becomes perfectly clear because there are no more thoughts to label that which is perceived. We now relate to any experience in an intimate way, without prejudices and expectations.
Because of the intimacy of the experience itself, we come to move more easily from the level of mental analysis to the level of pure and free existence. And, at that point, the sensation dissolves into the spring of life that we really are, the life that animates us.
d) Sensations Go Back to Source
When we stop labeling and looking for meaning in sensations, we stop setting limits to them and thus they tend to return to the source vibration, Spanda, which is the origin and the terminal point of any sensation.
The spiritual aspiration, our opening up to the Sacred Tremor, can appear in any moment of awareness during our life. This attitude can be more easily developed with Hridaya meditation.
The body becomes a doorway to a deeper reality revealed beyond the impermanent appearances of various sensations and concepts.
e) The Limitations of “Energy Work”
The experience of opening up freely brings a new attitude: we perceive or have access to energies, sensations and states which are no longer in need of change, transformation or energizing etc. No matter how beneficial the changes could be that we might envision, they are still ego based, as the changes take place only at the level of the individual consciousness.
f) Intimacy with “What Is”
We understand the role of the Witness Consciousness and Open Attention. The sphere of Open Attention does not only include the perception of energies and sensations, but the way we react to them as well: “What do we think about that experience or energy?” Whether we like it or not, whether we think we should amplify it or not, whether we should transmute it, etc., the reality is that these questions are only projections and labels of the individual consciousness. They lead us only to a state which lacks intimacy regarding that particular energy or sensation.
The desire to control that energy or sensation implies separation from it and, implicitly, a separation from the very energy of life, the source of the life force which animates our being.
Spiritual practice, whether it is practice of asanas or of meditation, will always express intimacy with “What Is,” with the “Present Moment,” with the silence of the Spiritual Heart.
It is a state of intimacy with the deep stillness of the Spiritual Heart. In this state, we stop comparing what “there is” with what “there should be” and we stop trying to make it better or right. This is Open Attention.
g) The Attitude of Open Attention Improves and Refines the Benefits of Hatha Yoga
Dwelling in the state of Open Attention towards the body during the practice of asanas, we can adjust our practice and attitude based on our body’s needs: relaxation or activity, a certain type of bending, or a certain energy.
We let our body’s inner wisdom guide us. Thus, through awareness, we develop direct knowledge, jnanaor gnosis.
h) “Sensitivity” to the Spiritual Heart
In hatha yoga this type of sensitivity or, in other words, the way we consciously open up to the inner energies and phenomena, leads us toward the Spiritual Heart. Evidently, this is not sensitivity in the common sense of the word. The ordinary sensitivity concerns only a particular object or range of perceptions such as the sensitivity to sounds or colors, etc. This type of sensitivity is also always open to the Spiritual Heart, towards the Sacred Tremor, Spanda. There is an attitude of openness to love, to the fundamental rhythms of the cosmos, to the vibration of Divine Grace and of Pure Bliss.
This is how we learn how to open up, to honor and to love the whole diversity of creation while keeping the awareness of the Heart.