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Attention … A Core Mystical Perception Skill

Attention …  A Core Mystical Perception Skill
Modern Day Mystic Series by Sandra Cosentino

Attention is a powerful skill used by mystics, modern and ancient, to expand awareness of energies and open to perceiving new insights.

The practice of focused attention to subtleties can expand perceptual, direct knowing. Ancestral peoples had deep observational abilities of the cycles of nature and celestial realms, for example, that gave birth to astronomies and spiritual practices to work with these natural energies to enhance their lives. Confidence and inner knowing arise from paying attention.

“Attention is the cognitive process of selectively concentrating on one aspect of the environment while ignoring other things. Attention has also been referred to as the allocation of processing resources.” (Wikipedia)

“Holding deeper attention is all it takes to illumine what is invisible.” (Llyn Roberts)


Vision quest and ceremony, to be successful, require powerful focused attention skills.

Vision quest and ceremony, to be successful, requires powerful focused attention skills.


Attention to Signs. Gifts always flow when entering nature with rapt attention to the subtle permutations of light, shadow, sounds, smells, movement of air, presence of life and my own inner responses. Walking, sitting, being present in the moment in deep inner and outer observation provides an opening for quick knowings to flow through and for our bodily systems to rebalance. We can ask for a sign to help resolve an issue and then pay attention to what comes to us from the greater field of intelligence that we are all connected to.


Fred Kabotie painting of Hopi flute dancers in deep attention to the Water Serpent to bring rain to their arid high desert so the corn will grow.

Fred Kabotie painting of Hopi flute dancers in deep attention to the Water Serpent to bring rain to their arid high desert so the corn will grow.


Attention to Coincidence. Even the ordinary can become a sign to us when observed in the context of our focused attention. You may find greater synchronicity happening in your life.

“A coincidence is a collection of two or more events or conditions, closely related by time, space, form, or other associations which appear unlikely to bear a relationship as either cause to effect or effects of a shared cause, within the observer’s or observers’ understanding of what cause can produce what effects.” (Wikipedia)


Once I looked directly into a bear's eyes in the wild--that image of focused attention is forever burned into my psyche.

Once I looked directly into a bear’s eyes in the wild–that image of focused attention is forever burned into my psyche.


Shapeshifting. When I let my eyes travel into the landscape, or the wild bird I am observing, I become “one” with their energy. I often sense what I call spirit of place or a heightened awareness of the unique qualities of that wild being. You gain a sense of “knowing” that place or being as if for the first time when you take time to really see and sense.

As a child, we all had imagining abilities that opened us to wondrous realms of direct experience. For example, below is a Hopi toddler sitting in rapt attention with his family dance group on a stage beating his drum beater in rhythm.

Llyn Roberts speaks eloquently of the value of instincts and earth attunement:

“Aligning with our planet gains us trust and fluidity. Oneness with the earth brings us into oneness with ourselves, which can ease our movement through perilous times.

Resonance with the earth tangibly benefits animals who can detect subtle changes in the earth.

We think that animals perceive faint shifts in the earth because of heightened faculties. They have a honed sense of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. But beyond the evident, instincts are at play which we can’t interpret. These come from an animal’s inborn attunement to nature. Humans, too, can awaken this.

We can attune to stone, earth, sky, wind and water. In experiencing oneness we gain wisdom, power, and energy. As with animals who pick up on subtle signals from the earth, human beings can also know things that are otherwise impossible to know. Attuning this way is energizing and stirs a fresh outlook of ourselves and our world.

By tuning into the earth, knowing her heart as our own and awakening to nature’s pulses, we resonate with forces which push us now to evolve and grow. The time is ripe to expose our own latent talents, and so, rouse confidence to find our way through changing times. “

Split Attention. Sarah McLean in her excellent new book, Soul-Centered, points out that constant effort is required to multi-task. MIT researchers, she states, found that we can only focus on one or two items at a time. We thus overload our brain’s processing capacity resulting in less clear thinking and slowing down of mental processes. “Split attention and distractions can create stress and lower the quality of our life, but meditation can help.”

“Focalization, concentration, of consciousness are of its essence. It implies withdrawal from some things in order to deal effectively with others, and is a condition which has a real opposite in the confused, dazed, scatterbrained state which in French is called distraction..”
(William James, Principles of Psychology)


Navajo weaver in Canyon de Chelly. The artist knows well the practice of attention and all that flows from creative focus.

Navajo weaver in Canyon de Chelly.
The artist knows well the practice of attention
and all that flows from creative focus.

Attention to Change our Reality. Don Miguel Ruiz wisely points out:
“Where we put our attention, is what we experience–our personal dream.” Core wisdom he eloquently and succinctly brings forth is to pay compassionate attention to your thoughts, feelings and actions each day and make choices how you will use your energy. This is what he calls second attention: “Using our awareness, we can focus our attention in our everyday life to reprogram ourselves in our own way.”

Wisdom from work out on the land:
Some of the clearest eyed wise people I know are Navajo sheepherders that live out on the land, Hopi farmers and range-riding cowboys I knew from my youth in northern Arizona.

Navajo sheepherder painting


Attention to the seeds we are planting with our thoughts and daily focus may yield fruitful movement of our own conscious evolution.

Attention to signs, energies, intuitions that flow to us daily strengthen our ability to adapt and flow with our rapidly changing world.

Attention to the energies within our body, our dreams and of other people in our life alert us to choices and pathways.

Related Articles by Sandra Cosentino in her Spirit of Southwest Blog:

Nature Mysticism–Pt. 1 in Earth-Spirit Series

Attention…A Core Mystical Perception Skill–Pt. 2 in Earth-Spirit Ways

Shamanic Journey in today’s World; Direct Experience With Sentient Universe–Pt. 3

Vision Quest: Communing with our Soul in Nature,

Pt. 4 in Earth-Spirit Series

Conscious ReCreation: Instigating the Next Becoming, Part 5 in Earth-Spirit Series

Power Animals Bring Gifts of Vibratory Infusion–article

Listening, Flow and Change