Directed and Attentive Thought

Wisdom: Really Seeing
Wisdom, Direction and Freedom

When you use “Directed Intelligence” you may become more  efficient.  When you use “Attentive Intelligence” you may gain Wisdom.

Though we value wisdom, we get paid for efficiency. Therefore we use “Directed Intelligence” a lot. And we used the same sort of mental processing to raise children, arrange to play with friends and for a host of other purposeful activities.

Our brains requires us to spend time processing in “Attentive Intelligence.” Most of us, however, are starved for non-goal directed, simple Attentive time. Our brains are busy at work when we are asleep classifying our moments by emotion, image, good or bad and other criteria. But most days we have experiences that don’t automatically fit into our preprogrammed system of memory storage. Our brains parade our “odd ball”  experiences in front of our Cerebral Cortex where we think abstractly and make new connections. We need to be awake to do this. All of this is summarized in a very nice article published in Science Daily by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. 

Why Increase Time Spent in Attentive Mode through Meditation?

Wisdom means knowing how the world actually works. To have it we need to get out of our agendas, your captivity to the past and anxiety about the future. Why walk in the woods when all we see are the trail signs. Past regret and future anxiety prevent us from understanding what it is actually happening before our eyes. Wisdom the the result of seeing the woods for what they are.

Here is an example of the interplay between Active and Attentive intelligence. Let’s say you are getting ready to have what you need to make pancakes tomorrow.  You might decide it would be a good idea to read the directions on the nearly empty box. Reading the directions in an Attentive “here and now” strategy. Registering what we have and what we need to buy is an Active strategy for building our shopping list. We switch between the two type of processing constantly every day.

But we don’t gain wisdom by attending to a moment here and another one there. We don’t see the patters unless we Attend to whole moments of our lives. Attending to the here and now serves two purposes. Attentive time allows our our brains to process experiences that don’t quite fit. Being simply aware of these moments allows up to see the new patterns we have not recognized in the past.

Therefore, what we learn to do is not how to be attentive but how to recognize that we have switched from Attentive Intelligence back to Active Management of our thinking. If we recognize the difference, we can choose to switch from Active thought to Attentive or “Mindful” mode. I read somewhere that we need about 40 minutes of Attentive thought a day but most people actually experience about 8.5 minutes.

We typically use “Attentive Intelligence” in our personal relationships.

Imagine we are considering what we need to do in order to cut down some trees. A friend or family member comes in and says, “Hi, got a second?”

“Sure,” we say. We shift gears and begin to “attend to” what they say. Focusing on hearing more than just their words, we listen for their intent. Typically we are silent so they can express themselves freely. We pay attention to their tone of voice. We also watch their body language. Focused on the person who is here now, we may ask questions in order to clarify what they mean. Mostly, though, they lead, we listen and their meaning “registers.”

When using “Attentive Intelligence” we focus on the other.  Rather than organizing them we are open to their leading. Afterwards, we then reflect on the time together. We gain new insights into who they are and what our relationship is. We become wise.

When we follow the pattern laid out in Jesus’ life we gain in wisdom. In his letter James counsels us,

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5

Solomon asked specifically for a God listening heart (1 King 3:1-15). The promise of wisdom is for us all, and not just for some.  People who become wise in life attended, then meditate.

If you have the idea but are not sure of the difference in feel between the two, go here. If you are not familiar with the difference between how Christians and others used Meditation, you might want to go here.

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