He takes me through three different exercises for focusing : first on the breath, then he includes bodily sensations, feeling and listening, and finally he includes thoughts and feeling and whatever else is walking around in my mind.
As it happens, I have just begun taking a free on-line course in learning how to learn, provided by coursea.com and that course begins by distinguishing between two different ways of thinking: focus, and diffuse. I recommend a look at the course and everything else they offer.
Why do I care and why do I think you should care? Because my professional and personal experience, the horrific news of wars, the domestic news of the disappearing middle class, and the current studies in neuroscience and evolutionary psychology strongly suggest that we are at a crucial transitional time in our journey as human beings. We need to learn how to pay intense attention to that reality, to ourselves, and to each other.
It seems to me that we can make the most out of the different ways we think by identifying them by the three different instruments we have made, which, in themselves can be seen as manifestations of these processes.
With a microscope we zero in on a subject so small we cannot see it with out eyes alone. Our attention is so focused peering through the lens that our minds never drift from the subject we are looking at. That slide and only that slide summons our full mental and emotional concentration.
With binoculars we are looking at a scene some measurable distance from where we are. We scan, moving from left to right, up and down, attentive, but more observational, certainly no where as intense as when studying a microbe.
And finally, with a telescope we are looking into the night sky, searching for patterns we have read about or a planet making its expected appearance. Awe is often what we feel, and wonder. It is in that world of experience that ideas seem to visit us, and often bring with them the promise, not of the specific solutions we might be looking for under the microscope, but unexpected hints at connections we have not ever thought of before.
It seems to me important that we learn how to see via these different processes with as much clarity as possible. The transitional moment I referred to is not guaranteed to take us forward.