Your Attention Please

Hacking the Brain

by Tracey Rich

Clearly, we've asked for your attention.  It takes your time and focus to read this article.  It takes your interest in order to open this newsletter, study a topic, or have a real communication.  So, what are you giving your attention to these days, and how completely?  Have you actually, consciously, followed the multitude of places your mind travels to when you open your iphone and tablet?  Or do you unconsciously let your fingers do the walking falling down the rabbit hole of infinite minutiae?

If your interest runs towards consciousness, check out the book, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century, by historian, Yuval Harari. In his book, Yuval, who also invests his time in meditation, explores some of the big concepts of our current moment in history. You might also appreciate listening to the talk Yuval gave at Google earlier this year on his book and the areas of tech and ethics, or listen to any of his many YouTube talks.

In a time of general overwhelm when every millisecond something is vying for your attention--and everything about you is becoming commoditized--your time and attention are valuable. But hopefully, they are most valuable to you. If you feel your head is barely staying above the virtual clutter, and you find yourself on auto-pilot, lost in a continual loop, or you are not self aware, it's time to reevaluate where you are spending your time, and what your consciousness is invested in.

Science, history, and technology are sorely lacking without the investigation into knowing ourselves--who we are as humans and as individuals. As habitual creatures it is easy to get lost in unexamined repetitive behavior and in the plethora of shiny objects set to attract us. It is commonplace to become anxiety ridden by the to-do list that never ends. Where does making space in the brain begin? Where does your compassion for yourself and others evolve from?

Harari comments that our brains are being hacked constantly, and with the development of technology, companies know us better than we know ourselves. These entities are tapped into our internal dialogue more, and maybe even better than we are. We are apparently quite easy to hack. And in that hack, we are being directed towards consumerism, not compassion. Some hacks are intentionally tapping into our emotional centers and the mechanisms in the brain that trigger us towards fear and separation.

Self-knowledge and self-awareness are critical for compassion, and without consciously unhooking from those things set to keep us perpetually in a loop, we cannot experience and integrate moving from a deeply connected interior space. Meditation is paying attention, or even better expressed by J Krishnamurti, meditation is choiceless awareness.

In listening to Harari, it seems that one of the ironies we face as a human species is, that as AI becomes more prevalent and its bond with biotech becomes more relevant, things like greater longevity become more attainable, but we become more irrelevant.

So then, the great koan of how to be, and who we be, remains most relevant. Therefore, we invite you to pay attention--to everything.