You will have heard of the cocktail party effect, and will of course recognise that ability to focus your attention on a single aspect of your environment, while turning down all the others, is a very useful skill.
If you’re on the bus trying to ignore the annoying children with tinny-speakers, or in a cinema trying to ignore a conversation two rows up, if you’re trying to meditate in a noisy office, concentrate on a book in a distracting room, or even if you’re actually at a cocktail party trying to listen to your conversational partner over the din, you’ll have a need to filter the information you pay attention to.
You will improve your ability to focus and filter like this through our usual methods: Practice, paying close attention, suggestion and association.
“Filters” – Three Guided Meditations In One
This month’s guided mediation contains three threads, three voices, and you will practice using those filters by picking out and focusing on a single one of those threads as you listen to the track, ignoring the others and learning to push all of your attention onto just one of them.
As you listen to the guided meditation this week, try to track the first thread. This is the first voice to begin speaking, the loudest one which is in the centre of the stereo speakers. Ideally you will be ignoring the other threads in the meditation to the extent that you still won’t know what they say right up until you begin deliberately focusing on them during the subsequent few weeks.
This first thread will instruct you to focus on that single voice while also concentrating on the fact you are using your filters, how it feels to do so. You’ll sometimes allow your concentration to fade, and compare that very focused state with the less effective one, noting the difference.
All the time you will be associating the feeling you experience with an image or a sound or some other cue, a key to help you reach that state more quickly as you become more practised.