Attention is not just receptive, but actively creative of the world we inhabit. How we attend makes all the difference to the world we experience. And nowadays in the West we generally attend in a rather unusual way: governed by the narrowly focussed, target-driven left hemisphere of the brain.
Forget everything you thought you knew about the difference between the hemispheres, because it will be largely wrong. It is not what each hemisphere does – they are both involved in everything – but how it does it, that matters. And the prime difference between the brain hemispheres is the manner in which they attend. For reasons of survival we need one hemisphere (in humans and many animals, the left) to pay narrow attention to detail, to grab hold of things we need, while the other, the right, keeps an eye out for everything else. The result is that one hemisphere is good at utilising the world, the other better at understanding it.
Absent, present, detached, engaged, alienated, empathic, broad or narrow, sustained or piecemeal, attention has the power to alter whatever it meets. The play of attention can both create and destroy, but it never leaves its object unchanged. How you attend to something – or don’t attend to it – matters a very great deal. This book helps you to see what it is you may have been trained by our very unusual culture not to see.