Offerings, Gifts, and Invitations
She appears on the screen in front of me. Her hair is long, her face angular.
When you look in that direction, what do you see?
The screen is slightly to the left.
I see the events of last week and the apple tree outside the window simultaneously.
I am gazing out the window to the right. Looking at the screen makes it difficult to focus on what I am experiencing, so I choose to look away. The apple tree is swaying in the breeze. The sky behind it is clear and bright.
How do you see both simultaneously?
They are here (I move my hand about a foot in front of me and move my right hand in a circle) between me and the apple tree.
Both are visible at the same time, but I see the events of last week differently. I can fully see the apple tree and the moments of these events simultaneously.
I focus my attention toward the images that are arising in front of me both mentally and outside the window.
You see both the apple tree and the events of last week at the same time, but you see the events of last week differently. How do you experience this difference?
Hearing this question, I pause; even though I’ve noticed the difference, I am not exactly sure how I experience this. I focus my attention on what I am seeing.
They move, it’s a bit like a film. From right to left - I move my hand from the right to the left in slow swiping motion.
I’d never noticed how I could see two things simultaneously. I began to see how much was at play in a single moment.
A lot is happening in the world, in my country, and in my personal life. At times, I feel stretched to pay attention to all of the big things that feel so important to be aware of and attend to.
Over the course of a week-long training, I got to experience how quickly my attention can jump from one thing to the next and how, in this process, I can lose touch with the enormity of the tiny processes that happen within seconds. I got to experience how much unfolds within my consciousness over 30 seconds and how easy it is to skip over this if I focus on the ‘what’ rather than the ‘how’ of my lived experience.
A great deal of our experience goes unnoticed. As I go through my day, I may not think about how I recall a moment from the past or how I remember to unlock my front door. These gestures are stored in my passive memory. I can perform them with little to no thought.
Part of the reason these actions and processes go unnoticed is because our attention tends to focus on the content, the ‘what’ of our experience, rather than the ‘how’.
Learning to recognise the micro-processes that usually go unnoticed may be similar to learning to have an ear for music or being able to distinguish movements within music. Having this experience in the training helped me notice what usually goes unnoticed, which helps me connect with a sense of awe even at the smallest scale.
Microphenomenology is based on the notion that to understand the human mind, research cannot only focus on objective data. Instead, it requires a rigorous method for studying human experience. Francisco Varela, a biologist, philosopher, cybernetician, and neuroscientist, was the one who initially brought this notion forward.
Over many years, Claire Petitmengin, a scholar of introspection, consciousness, and neurophenomenology, developed the method of micro-phenomenology, the objective of which is to become aware of our experience and to describe it through noticing the precise micro acts and gestures that structure our experience.
My attention returns to the screen. I am still looking out the window.
Now, I invite you to return to the present moment, to this virtual Zoom room.
I look back at the screen at the angularity of her face.
From the outside, it would appear that nothing had changed. The apple tree was still swaying in the wind. I was still seated at my computer. But within me, there was a fundamental change. I saw how complex the functioning of my mind and attention were - I was curious what being able to engage with this complexity more consciously could afford me.
In this time, with all of the developments of AI, I am brought back to a fundamental question I’ve been carrying with me since I was small: what is the deeper intelligence present within humans? How do we connect with that?
A week later, I’m asking, what if I focus on the micro for a while?
What I’m reading
In this book Poyton shows how improvisational skills can be applied to navigating our everyday lives and our work. This book sheds insight on how we can move through our life with greater ease, and experience uncertainty as something that can be enjoyed, rather than endured.
Look: How to Pay Attention in a Distracted World by Christian Madsbjerg
In an age of distraction, Madsbjerg proposes we need to rediscover the deeply human ways we connect with others. The focus of the book is on how we can pay attention better and how this practice can support all that we do. It offers ways we can recapture our attention and learn to observe the world in all of its nuance and detail.
Someone recommended this book to me, although I have yet to read it, I look forward to doing so soon.
What I’m Watching
If you feel like a diversion, this is a video of someone creating patterns in a Japanese sand garden. Hearing the sound of the rake in the sand, and watching the patterns emerge, is both deeply calming and satisfying. You can watch the video here.
Saturdays: November 25th, December 2nd and 9th, 9:00-11:00 am AEDT
2 Spots Left.
One way to connect with the ‘larger design’ behind your life is through working with our life myth and biography. Each of us carries a unique constellation that shapes our perception and behaviour.
Join Rose Harvey and me for a 3-part series exploring your myth and biography. Together, we’ll consider how the patterns within your myth show up in your everyday life and how you can engage with them. We will explore how they influence your relationships and can guide your self-expression and work in the world.
Who is this for?
People familiar with their life myth who would like to learn how to draw upon it in their daily lives and work with others.
People who are new to life myth and would like to learn more about the concept and how to apply it to: map patterns in their life, and work with them to gain additional perspective.
What if I miss a session? All sessions will be recorded.
What if I can’t attend in person? You will receive all recordings and have the option to book a session with Elsa and Rose to work on your life myth.
Learn more and register here
45 min sessions to make sense of a situation and explore ways of engaging with it.
Let’s look at a situation or area of your work/life you have questions about.
This could be a client you’re working with, a decision you’re trying to make, or an area where you feel stuck or unclear. Together we’ll notice the underlying patterns and themes. From there we’ll explore ways of engaging with that situation so you have increased clarity and options moving forward.
These sessions are an opportunity to reflect, step out of your usual perspective and explore future directions. Learn more and register here.