Open Attention

Open Attention is a natural expression of a consciousness that is not preoccupied with achieving one thing or another. It is an impersonal attention, free of attachments, judgments, and labeling. It is an attention that emphasizes the Witness Consciousness. Therefore, it doesn’t lose itself in the knowing of an object, but simultaneously maintains the awareness of the Spiritual Heart, of the source of attention itself. Open Attention is a kind of unified perception in which whatever is seen, heard, touched, etc., is kept in Oneness, not separated or individualized.

How to Cultivate Open Attention

Remain in the Present Moment (i.e., maintain the state of Witness Consciousness) and, at the same time, stay focused on perceiving any sensation or impression that appears in the body or the environment. In other words, remain in a state of observation, full of love, free from the need to analyze, label, or conceptualize.

Open Attention Increases the Sharpness of Perception

Open Attention, free from ego-based tensions caused by the pursuit of various goals, spontaneously quiets racing thoughts. The accuracy and quality of perceptions change by virtue of the simple fact that your attention is effortlessly directed towards them (without strain or expectations).

In this state, there are no preconceptions and no desire to push energy or to direct it anywhere. You let it follow its own free path. Your perception becomes perfectly clear because there are no thoughts to label it. You now relate to any experience in an intimate way, without prejudices or expectations.

Because of the intimacy of the experience itself, you spontaneously shift from the level of mental analysis to the level of pure and free existence. And at that point, sensations dissolve into the spring of life that you really are, the Life that animates you.

Sensations Go Back to Source

When you stop labeling and looking for meaning in sensations, you stop setting limits to them. Then, they tend to go back to the source vibration, spanda (the Sacred Tremor of the Heart), which is the origin and the end point of any sensation.

Spiritual aspiration, opening up to the Sacred Tremor, can appear spontaneously in any moment of awareness during your life. However, this attitude can be more easily learned in Hridaya Meditation. The body becomes a doorway to a deeper reality, beyond the changes and appearances of various sensations and concepts.

The Limitations of “Energy Work”

The experience of freely opening up brings a new attitude: you perceive or have access to energies, sensations, and states that are no longer in need of change, transformation, energizing, etc. No matter how beneficial the changes that you might envision could be, they are still ego-based because they would take place only at the level of personal energies and individual consciousness.

Intimacy with “What It Is”

The sphere of Open Attention does not only include the perception of energies and sensations, but the way you react to them as well: “What do you think about that experience or energy?” Whether you like it or not, whether you think you should amplify it or not, whether you should transmute it, etc., the reality is that these questions are only false projections and labels of the individual consciousness. They only lead to a state that lacks intimacy with that particular energy or sensation.

The desire to control that energy or sensation implies separation from it and, implicitly, separation from the very energy of Life, the source of the life force that animates your being.

Spiritual practice, whether the practice of asanas or meditation, will always express intimacy with “What it is,” with the present moment, with the Stillness of the Spiritual Heart.

In this state, you stop comparing “What it is” with “What it should be” and stop trying to make it better or right. This is Open Attention, in which transformations occur naturally.

Open Attention Refines the Practice of Hatha Yoga

By keeping an Open Attention towards the body and its energies during the practice of asanas, you can adjust your practice and attitude based on the body’s natural needs—relaxation or activity, certain types of stretching or certain energies, the awakening of one chakra or another.

You let your body’s inner wisdom guide you. Thus, through awareness, you develop direct knowledge, jnana, or gnosis.

“Sensitivity” to the Spiritual Heart

In Hatha Yoga, this type of sensitivity or, in other words, the way you consciously open up to inner energies and phenomena, leads you to the Spiritual Heart. Clearly, this is not “sensitivity” in the typical sense of the word. Ordinary sensitivity concerns only a particular object or range of perceptions, such as the sensitivity to sounds, colors, etc. Even though it may include other objects and sensations in its awareness, Open Attention induces a sensitivity that is always directed mainly to the Spiritual Heart. There is an attitude of living with an Open Heart, of openness to love, to the fundamental rhythms of the Cosmos, to the vibration of Divine Grace.

By maintaining an Open Attention, you learn how to open to, honor, and love the entire diversity of Creation while maintaining an awareness of the Heart.