wDo You Notice Anything Different?
I remember hearing my mom asking my dad this question many times. Do you notice anything different? She would have her hair or makeup done differently, or wore a new outfit, or some other subtle change. Of course, my dad would always ask for a clue for what he is supposed to look for. So now I wonder how observant is the average person when it comes to noticing a change.
I used to do the ‘Spot the 5 Differences” puzzles in the daily newspaper. Some days they would be really easy and seem to jump out of the page at me because they were so obvious. Other days, they were a challenge. I’d struggle to find the last one. So, I could relate to my dad’s frustration. Yes, please give me a hint. What am I looking for?
How many times do we go through this experience in our day-to-day experiences? I would pride myself in how quickly I would be able to solve the little puzzle in the newspaper, and that was before I even heard of the Science of Mind philosophy. Now, I think I’m even more aware of subtle changes in my surroundings.
I have a spiritual practice of meditation, and often will imagine leaving my body to observe it from the outside looking in and around me. This allows me to be able to observe more things subjectively, when I didn’t have all my “stuff” disrupting me, like background operating systems cluttering my thinking and awareness. I could be more focused and objective.
Notice what you are noticing. I watch my thoughts drifting across my mind like little “thought bubbles” in a cartoon strip. I often use this technique when tying to go to sleep at night or during massage therapy. I notice what I am feeling in my body and how my skin and muscles feel, what emotions I am feeling, what I am thinking about how I feel. Then I notice how many things I am thinking about at the same time in that moment, and then notice how many more things I am thinking about. Sometimes I find myself just thinking too much, so I try to dial it down a bit so that I am just witnessing them without thinking too much.
Recently, I had a massage, and the therapist was interrupted multiple times during my session. This felt very disruptive to my sense of relaxation. I was noticing how upset I was about this and how it was causing me to be more tense rather than the relaxed feeling I anticipated. So, I started counting how many seconds the therapist was spending on a particular muscle and wondering if it was equal time spent on both shoulders, for example. I was counting the seconds, counting the strokes, thinking about how I was feeling both physically and emotionally, wondering how much time I had left in my session, what I was going to do after, where I was going to go next, and again I was noticing how much I was thinking in one moment, all at the same time. I wasn’t allowing myself to just be or allowing myself to relax and enjoy the massage because I was too busy thinking. I needed a remote control to mute out all the extraneous thoughts and noises in my head. I needed to go home and just relax and recuperate both my mind and my body.
And then I started wondering if I actually might have attention deficit, jumping so quickly from one thought to the next and then to another. I was making myself crazy! I needed to go home and listen to my favorite meditation where I could just relax and enjoy the moment.
* The human brain sometimes takes cognitive shortcuts to help make decisions, shortcuts that can lead to implicit or unconscious bias. The human brain can process 11 million bits of information every second. But our conscious minds can handle only 40 to 50 bits of information a second. it is most certainly possible but highly improbable that you can think about two things at once. A few people out of billions of the world are able to do what is called "multi channelling" where your mind completely focuses on 2 or more different things at once.
What do you think about when you think you are thinking about nothing? People who are thinking about "nothing" could also be having stream of consciousness thoughts that don't tell a coherent story, Halassa said. But the brain never actually stops "thinking" in a broader sense. (Michael Halassa's research is focused on the neural basis of cognitive control and flexibility, particularly as it relates to attention and decision making.)
It seemed so much easier when I was a child and would lay on the grass in a big empty field and watch the clouds go by. Maybe that’s why I enjoy people watching. Just observing, but sometimes wondering “what the heck are they doing” and wondering if they are wondering the same thing about me.
So, how do we keep our concentration? This is what Dr. Ernest Holmes wrote in the Science of Mind:
“To concentrate means to bring to a center, and in Mental Science it means focusing the mental attention on some definite and desired thought, image, idea or thing. Of course we are dealing with the idea as though thoughts were things. The spirit of the thing is in the thought. This is its essence, law, and cause.
Concentration of thought is not an effort to compel, but the desire to permit, the stream of Creative Energy to take definite for. To try to force, through concentration, would be to give ourselves an adverse suggestion and bring upon ourselves the very opposite to our wishes through recognizing an opposite to the power of Good. And all in accord with well known and defined mental law in the Spiritual World.
We concentrate our attention. The Law creates the form. This will solve one of those Divine Riddles which arise out of the teachings of Jesus. He was always telling his followers to believe, to have faith and then he as plainly said, “who by taking thought can add one cubit to his stature?” Here he tells us not to take thought. The riddle is solved the moment we place thought, imagination, will and concentration where they rightly belong in the creative order.
A good psychological balance is struck when the will and the emotions are rightly poised. That is, when the intellect first decides what the emotions are to respond to. After the intellect has made this decision, then the imagination is called into play and the game of living commences. It is the office of the will to determine that to which the imagination is to respond.
One of the most important things for us to remember is that we are always causing something to be created for us. And that whatever cause we have set in motion must produce some kind of effect. Are we producing the effects we should like to experience? The creative process will go on willy nilly. We cannot beat Nature at its own game for we are some part of the game. She is playing. Shall the result, in our lives, be a comedy or a tragedy? We are given the WILL to decide the issue.
We should carefully consider whether we are willing to experience the results of our thoughts. There should never be any hurt in them, for ourselves or for anyone else. We may be sure that if there is hurt for others there must also be hurt for ourselves. As we sow, so we must reap, but here is no real limitation, for the Creative Life wishes us to have all that we can use. If we keep our thought fixed upon the idea that this is Energy, which is also Intelligence, is now taking the form of some desire in our lives, then it will begin to take this form. If we change the desire then It will change the form. Therefore, there must be a definite purpose in our imagination.
We are so One with the Whole that what is true of It is also true of us. We are one with the manifest Substance whose business it is to forever take form and we are on with the Law which gives form. The entire order is on of spontaneous being and spontaneous manifestation. The Law follows the word just as the word follows the desire. The desire arises from the necessity of the Universe to become self-expressed. the Law follows the word. the word follows the desire. The word gives form to Substance and the Principle of subjective Law produces the manifestation. There is no effort in the process whatsoever.
What we concentrate, then, is attention. This is done through intention and the willingness to hold thought centered until the form appears. It is unnecessary to learn any methods of concentration whatsoever if these simple rules are followed.”
~ SOM pg.194-1
Ernest Holmes went on to say:
“Remember that thoughts are things and therefore different kinds of thoughts give rise to different types of manifestations.” ~ SOM pg. 254-4
Clearly, I was thinking something other than relaxation. So I left my massage appointment feeling drained, frustrated, sore, tense and angry, feeling like I was “ripped off”. I paid three times the amount I normally pay for a massage. So I set out to find a different therapist that was more conscious of the energy exchange between the client and themselves. I needed to get my Zen back. The next day I had a success with a new therapist and enjoyed a two-hour session of bliss. Aaah relief!
Perhaps I should have done a Spiritual Mind Treatment before, during and after my initial massage session and I could I avoided my discomfort. But then again, I wouldn’t have had the experience to compel me to write this article. But now I can ask myself, “do you notice anything different?”