When we turn our attention to ourselves in order to explore it, we soon find out that this is not an easy process.
We can quickly give up the effort and eventually end up thinking about all the other everyday things besides ourselves. So we just exist as something "mechanical", and the real experience of what it means to be human beings escapes from our focused attention. In this way all our life can pass without attention, without existential vigilance, as if we were living in a dream.
We consider everything, but we do not develop attention to whether the way we think is right or wrong, and therefore we are not conscious.
We usually react and are disconnected as we move through our daily lives thinking about the past and the future. For example, if we need to walk on the ice, we automatically understand that we are awake. That is, when we are required to respond with all our being to the present, we understand that we cannot function mechanically.
Once we start thinking about ourselves we quickly discover that our thinking is extremely inadequate as it is not accompanied by the necessary corresponding experiences. We then have little or no desire to know ourselves.
We cannot live without desires, but our small desires make us ghosts, shadows of ourselves, as they require very little energy to be realized. Only something as big as the desire to find who we really are, requires and invites a lot of life energy to make it happen.
In particular, the desire for enjoyment, or the conquest of external goods, and in general the effort to adapt life and others to what we know as our world, is usually a verbal rather than an experiential story of ourselves.
What seeks a psychological continuum so that we do not feel insecure, are usually the early childhood images and roles that are recorded in the unconscious and which connect us mainly with the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
When we desire something, it is not pleasure that leads us to internal disorganization but our disconnection and lack of substantial dominance over desire. Our desire is satisfied or suppressed without our conscious presence. When, for example, we have a desire for food then we either passively surrender and go straight to the fridge satisfying our desire, or we deny it and suppress it by creating an internal conflict. We will need to diligently cook exactly what we would like, making sure we stay fully connected throughout the preparation, or we will need to stay connected to the experience of pain and deprivation until we calm down.
The practice is to live consciously with our desires, not to reject them but also not to get lost in them. Until they do not have any effect on us, so that our attention remains free.
As adults we need to continue to be constantly connected to desire and longing, whether or not we acquire the object of our longing.
Freedom of attention begins when we have a special ability to dominate our desires and fears. In the first case this helps us not to get caught up in something or someone.
However,in the other case the fear of not being afraid keeps us from starting to withdraw and run away.
On a practical level in everyday life, it often requires systematic training and exercise of the ability to observe and learn to respond internally, rather than simply reacting to external stimuli.
One of the biggest problems in our socialization period as we grow older is the fact that compulsive adjustment and repetition have taken the place of uninterrupted attention.
Finally, we know that our attention is divided into the inner and outer world. When we withdraw to a quiet state, it is easier to focus attention internally. But when we interact in everyday life, the attention inside us is lost. The external focus when it is conscious concerns the roles we play in every context we exist in, for ex. parental, companion, professional, self-development. It requires a training of our attention in the present, of the context of the role and the goal that we need to serve each time in our relationships with others.
Inner attention is necessary to not identify ourselves with others, while external attention is important to serve the world!