THE ATTENTION UNITS OF THE CONSCIOUS AND UNCONSCIOUS MIND
UTILIZING THEM WELL; NOT WASTING THEM
The necessity to highly filter:
Sensory input bits of information taken in 11 million bits/second
Conscious brain can process 15-50 bits/second
Ratio 1 to 200,000
The mind MUST screen!
A LIMIT: SOMETHING'S GOTTA GIVE
Notice how when you are anxious about something, you do not notice as many things and you are not as present to what is going on. You're basically occupying your available circuits with what you are anxious about.
Your mind automatically attempts to prioritize what it thinks will promote survival and/or will eliminate a survival threat. (Evolution) The idea here, and of this piece, is to free up attention units so that they can be re-directed to what is more useful for you in life. And to avoid filling the pipeline (or "bandwidth" in terms of data flow in the internet) with bad stuff as it will displace the good stuff, as in The Pipeline Principle.
For instance, constant anxiety sets the brain in a constant emergency mode (or "upset" mode) as it seeks to solve the (believed) danger.
If we are feeling dependent on other people's approval, that will use up many of the available circuits. The idea of "I must have approval" and somehow that one's survival is threatened if one doesn't get that approval sets me up for a constant concern when I am with people. And it takes away from my attention units that would allow me to be more present and responding better - so I could be even less approved of...
Basically, realistically, we can only deal well with a few concerns at once. (The myth of supermen in this area is just a myth. The difference is that those superperformers in this area have settled what would be major concerns that would distract one.
Psychologists refer to this as "cognitive load", and suggest that we have limits to what we can cognitively deal with. (And today's massive onslaught of information must be filtered and managed well or we'll overstress our system and not be happy!)
Interestingly enough, by eliminating these concerns and making the attention units available for more important functions we will appear to be more intelligent. However, what is actually true is that we have the same basic intelligence, it is just that we are applying it to what is more productive - we are using more of it! Basically, we are moving from a "dimmer" state of mind to a "brighter" one. We are simply being "brighter"!
And, in a real sense, I am "being" a different person, one who is operating at a higher level and better able to live life effectively. When we drop to our lower levels, you might notice, we make many bad decisions and target the wrong things, we tend to operate more on "automatic", which means our regular habits and unconscious behaviors tend to rule - with less regulation from the higher minds. We eat too much, we feel like our appetites are taking us over, we seek relief...
What the brain thinks is a survival threat may not actually be a real survival threat. It operates off of recordings ("this is the way things work") that match up to what is going on so it can match a recording of what to do so that you go into action to save your life - or to do anything that will contribute to your survival. Another name for this is a "belief'
WHAT SHOULD I ELIMINATE/REDUCE?
Realize that much of what you should eliminate are actual beliefs that set you up to be concerned about something. Eliminate the erroneous belief (or modify it) and you eliminate (or modify) the concern so that it does not take up the attention units.
In The Core Of Your Life, we suggest that there is a high payoff to "certaintizing" alot in life, so that there is (duh!) less uncertainty and therefore less to distract us from directing our attention to where it has the most payoff. There are few people who have actual DNA-induced ADHD (attention deficit disorder), but a number of other people have developed the habit of not paying attention and in allowing oneself to not focus well they actually let certain parts of the brain diminish in size, so their brain scans look similar to those where it is DNA based. The "antidote", as they might say in Buddhism, is to practice focusing one's attention, which will have an actual effect of growing the brain's attention centers, in addition to building a good habit. (See Rewiring The Brain.) Meditation has more than a "calming" effect and is more of a "training" practice. Eliminating the "disruptive" influences for the brain, some of which are discussed in The Care Of Your Frontal Lobes, will be helpful, as it removes those items that negatively affect the ability to focus and direct attention. Rock music (believe it or not), passive watching of tv (is there any other kind?), mall shopping