A while back (764th Week’s practice), I wrote about choosing frequencies and engaging practices that make that process more fluid. Another helpful approach is to cultivate an awareness of the “foreground/background” dynamic that is present in every moment. Whatever is in the foreground of your awareness, there is likely to be something different in the background.
One way to think about these foreground/background dynamics could be the distinction between moments of upset in the foreground and an awareness of the present-day observer in the background. The observer is the part of us that notices what we experience and is able to make choices about what to do with what we notice. In this case, we’re exploring finding ways to shift from the foreground upset to a background of a more regulated quality, if that’s what you choose to do.
Drawing on an awareness of foreground/background allows more choice about whether you want to continue with the focus of your attention and experience or if you want to shift frequencies to something else that you may find in the background. For example, you may be upset over a news report you just heard, with your body tense, fear in the foreground, and thoughts of what terrible things might unfold. These responses are natural in these times, but you don’t need to live there. Once you notice how distressed you are, it’s possible to become curious about what might be in the background. Perhaps you notice a quality of quiet, or ease, internal steadiness, or reassurance of some kind. This doesn’t mean you are ignoring or denying issues that are realistically upsetting. Instead, it means that you will be able to respond more coherently if you aren’t caught up in the activation related to them.Read More “778th Week: Foreground/Background Dynamics Revisited”
During this political season, we have experienced the emergence of an underlying polarization that has had more power and pervasive presence than I suspect many people would have anticipated. For me, above and beyond political considerations, this polarization expresses the fundamental difference in a stance that holds an assumption of oneness and a stance that assumes separateness. Read More “Week 641: Orienting Everyday Activities Toward Oneness and Kindness”
Recently, I talked about finding a deep experience of peace as I sat in Central Park, and how I could stay with that inner sense of quiet even as children, dogs, birds, all kinds of people came and went in the area where I sat. It was fundamentally an experience of playing with foreground/background dynamics: I chose to have the sensations of peace stay in the foreground of my awareness as the sounds of activity came and went in the background.
Playing with foreground/background dynamics is its own kind of mindfulness practice… Read More “683rd Week: More Foreground/Background Dynamics: Finding Home Base”