Types of Attention

In the last few months I’ve become acutely aware of, and sensitive too, the types and qualities of attention that I can experience.

7 minutes

After the meditation/mental rupture occurred last year, the one that brought about Lost in the Woods – things have got … interesting on the mat.

In the last few months I have become acutely aware of, and sensitive to, the types and qualities of attention/mental states that I can achieve and experience.

The Buddhists, Hindus, or the Saints, all have their own words and technical terms for the different types of attention you can experience/give/receive. I’m not going to name them as they’re not that important. What’s important are the actual experiencings. The difference between them, the contrast, the cycling of registers and modes. We all pay different types of attention to things throughout our daily lives but rarely are we aware of which kind, and how deeply we are paying attention in the moment. Are you aware of the register of attention you are paying to a TV show whilst browsing your phone at the same time? What about when chopping onions, mopping the floor, working hard on a spreadsheet or driving.

Things are happening to/inside of me that unless you have been though it all yourself (and we can compare notes) it’s not worth talking about or trying to articulate.


I say all this as I spent all day today at a 6 hour band practice. I have (IMO) this year suddenly become a *much* better musician. After 30 years, a music degree, concert grade flute performances, I’ve finally learnt to listen properly. I’ve learnt or discovered that it’s important to pay attention to what is going on in the room. LOL.

As I type this, I realise I spent hours today in a mental state I can only describe as being adjacent to mantra. I was playing my bass sure, but I was listening – really listening – to everyone else in the room. I was feeling the music rather than just using my ears to hear it.

Just as with meditation, I would be playing and then catch my mind wandering – and I would fuck up. Or the other way around – I would fuck up and realise I’d been thinking about how much the gas bill is going up soon. I was not been giving the correct or due attention to the task at hand.

It also dawned on me that I was in a room with 3 other friends communicating the whole time. Communicating and interacting in way far more rich and less socially exhausting than if we had been talking to one another all day. I’ve always felt that I’ve played along with my band mates or orchestra. Today (when the headspace was right) I felt like I was playing with them. The guitar part wasn’t being played by Paul, it *was* Paul.

I makes me wonder. If listening in this way, paying deep attention, is where dancing comes from inside of other people – something I have never been able to do. I’ve always danced like a janky jangley marionette. A simulacra of a creature with rhythm.

I am suddenly interested in playing jazz and improvising with people. Something I’ve traditionally been hopeless at too. I feel like I’d like to be in a impro noise or drone band or something.

Since the ‘event’ on the mat last year, and the instruction to turn the touch around, I’ve realised that giving my whole attention to things makes me feel alive. Never more alive than when I pay attention to God.

The words of the Eucharist instruct:

Lift up your hearts.
All: We lift them to the Lord.

The Prayers of Penitence include the following lines:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, with all your mind,
and with all your strength.

Maybe, just maybe at the age of 37, I have finally understood and experienced what this means in practice.

Permanently Moved

How to Listen to a Podcast

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thejaymo.net Spotify Playlist

Ryuichi Sakamoto (1952-2023)

In honour of the passing of Ryuichi Sakamoto, here are my two favourite Yellow Magic Orchestra tracks.

I first heard YMO at university in 2003/4(?)ish. In one of my many pop music lectures. I was instantly hooked, like nothing I’d ever heard before. YMO were so far ahead of the curve. Sakamoto, along side YMO founding member Haruomi Hosono they transformed the cultural zeitgeist of Japan.

Technopolis – Solid State Survivor (1979)

Whilst not the most famous track off YMO’s second album (that has to go to Rydeen) Technopolis has got to be one of the most famous uses of the Roland VP-330 vocoder (brand new in 1979). The song sounds like driving in a neon lit cyberpunk world. Unlike other YMO tracks of this era, this song is mostly performed live, not manually sequenced.

Chinese Whispers – Service (1983)

Chinese sits in the middle of the A side of the album Service. It sounds like a Bowie song. This track’s instrumentation also sounds *very much* like a megadrive soundtrack. Something like Wimbledon Championship Tennis. Love this song. its so good.

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