Professor Pierre Levy wrote:
> Dear coach, I will be very interested by your advice about expanding attention bandwidth and – therefore – time. 🙂
Let me start with the model that I developed a few years ago to help myself understanding what I’m talking about. The diagram below shows two perspectives on attention, that we could label as
Attention Managemnet on the left and Attention Ecology on the right.
(Click on the “Continue reading…” link below the diagram, if you want to get the rest of the story.)
Insight, or the capacity to discern the true nature of a situation by perceiving it in an intuitive manner, is effortless when one has mastered the art of being fully present and integrated it into his/her “nature” or ground of being.
On our way to that mastery, insight frequently remains elusive, particularly in very complex situations in which itâ€™s the most needed and sought after. We can develop the right AL practices for enhancing this capacity by combining approaches borrowed from cognitive complexity theory and the mindfulness practices of perennial wisdom traditions.
“Cognitive complexity theory relates complexity to the number of dimensions or scales against which an individual tries to evaluate a stimulus (differential complexity), or consider in producing an output (integrative complexity)… The more dimensions which a person is able to consider in evaluating stimuli, the more inherent complexity s/he can deal with.”
Paul M. Cashman & David Stroll: Proceedings of the Conference on Computer-Supported Cooperative Work, 1986
The power of mindfulness practices referred to earlier is illustrated by the words of Henry Miller: “The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.”
Millerâ€™s observation is quoted by Joel and Michelle Levey, in their book on Wisdom at Work: A Treasury for Cultivating Clarity, Kindness, & Resilience. The Leveys are dear friends with whom (and with other colleagues) we had a very inspiring learning conversation about attention matters, 3 years ago.
Since then, my attention has been turning more and more towards ‘shared-attention” or “distributed attention”, and how it may increase the elasticity of our personal attention. I imagine that a collaborative inquiry into exploring that link, would be some kind of “participatory action research” in which we’d experiment, observe and interptet our experience together.
I believe attention elasticity and attention ecology have also something to do with multi-community membership and we may want to take a closer look at that relationship, too.
If anybody reading this has an active interest in any of this, please suggest where should we go from here: listing the issues/challenges in attention ecology or sketching out a basic plan, simple methodology for our collabotative inquiry, or something else?