The Container of Concentration The Container of Concentration A Talk by Andrea Fella (IMC, September 7, 2010) (Transcribed and lightly edited by N. Willis) http://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/2/talk/2018/20100907-Andrea_Fella-IMC-the_container_of_concentration.mp3Download Audio Andrea: Good morning. I want to continue the conversation on concentration that we started last week. Today mostly I’d like to talk about the importance of setting up a container for the concentration. It’s basically a container for the meditation. Last time I talked about the different kinds of concentration, so what I’m going to talk about today applies to these various kinds of concentration. Just to review briefly, at one end of the spectrum there’s the kind of concentration that we cultivate by just stabilizing on one experience, like the breathing, and just coming back to that over and over again, letting go of anything not that, in favour of just settling the mind on that one experience. The mind settles down, the mind gets quite still in that kind of concentration. Things that are not the breath begin to fall away, and we can even get so absorbed into the breathing that the other senses in the body, the hearing, other experiences, really recede, if not disappear completely. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a kind of concentration where we’re not trying to have the mind stay with any particular experience, but we’re trying to stabilize the awareness so that it can meet a changing flow of experience. That kind of concentration is the stability of the awareness, the stability of mindfulness, and it is just meeting moment-to-moment whatever is apparent to us. It may be a sound; it may be a body sensation; it may be a breath; it may be pain; it might be a thought or an emotion. The stream, the flow of our lived experience comes through, and the awareness meets that in a very stable way without following out after anything. Often that kind of meditation, that kind of practice, is initially more difficult for many people, because as we open to the flow of experience, a car drives by, we hear the car and we think about the car, or we think about our car, and the fact that we heard something funny as we drove to the center today; what am I going to do about my car? So quickly our minds will move off the flow of experience into thinking about the experience that has happened. So that stabilizing of the awareness is basically a continuity of awareness on a flow of changing experience without the wandering out into thought. This results in another kind of concentration: moment-to-moment concentration. And this experience doesn’t have the same still quality that the one-pointed concentration does, where we’re focused on one thing, because in the one-pointed concentration, everything gets very still. When opening up to changing experience, the changing experience can be quite fluid and dramatic, in effect – really rapidly changing. The experience doesn’t seem still, but the awareness is still. And that stillness of awareness is a manifestation of the concentration. There’s a wide range between these two extremes, and as we heard last time, there can be a blending of these kinds of concentration practices. And in any kind of meditation practice, some amount of concentration is necessary and very supportive for the mind to stabilize and be present. It’s the concentration that allows us to not wander out and think about things. So what I’m going to talk about today, of setting up this container for the concentration, applies to all the different kinds of practices. There are different ways that we might approach the setting up of the container depending on the kind of meditation practice that you’re doing, but I’m going to try to speak in general enough terms that hopefully you’ll be able to connect it with your own experience and apply some of what I’m talking about. Today is really a practical nuts and bolts kind of talk about how to work with various aspects of your experience to set up this container for concentration. We can’t really make concentration happen. We can only support the conditions that allow it to arise. For me that’s a really helpful thing to remember, because often, in our meditation practice, we bring our “I’m going to do this” mentality that we have in our culture, “I’m going to do this thing”, and we think we can make the concentration happen. But we can’t really force the concentration to occur. Concentration arises when awareness becomes continuous, whether it’s continuous on a single object like the breathing, or whether it’s continuous on a flow of changing experience. It’s that continuity of awareness that is the concentration. And we can’t force that. We can for short periods of time, through an act of will, kind of hold on, but that kind of holding on results in a pretty brittle concentration that’s very easily broken. So it’s much more about creating a container that supports the conditions that allows concentration to arise, which results in a more stable way to develop concentration. The main aspect of that container, the whole structure of that container, is relaxation. That’s one of the main supports for concentration. That is not what I thought when I first started meditating. I thought that you actually had to chug along, to do things, not relax. Relaxation was not in my mind as a means of facilitating concentration. But relaxation is really, really important. In the guided meditation I did (before the talk), I spent quite a long time encouraging you to connect with relaxation. Different people need different amounts of time for this. And the same person on different days may need different amounts of time to connect with that kind of relaxed attention. This relaxed attention – it’s not only relaxation of the body: it’s relaxation of the awareness, relaxation of the attention. Both of those two together. And when the body is relaxed, it’s much easier for the attention to be relaxed, and so that’s why I started the guided meditation with a fairly extended period of encouraging relaxation of the body. As I said, we need different amounts of time for this. Some people need longer, some people can relax fairly easily. Some days we’re more tense than others, so we need to take more time to connect with that relaxation. There have been times in my meditation where I have realised that the mind and body were so tense that the most skilful thing for me to do was to take the entire meditation period to simply cultivate relaxation. And to never particularly aim the attention at the breath or at hearing or at anything in the experience other than just, “May the body relax; may the mind relax.” Setting up this container of relaxed attention is really the most important framework for the meditation. You can get that relaxed container and then learn from that place of relaxation how to open the attention to your experience. Either to open the attention to a particular experience like the breathing, or to open the attention to the flow of experience: of seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting, touching, and emotions and thoughts. With relaxation, when we can learn how to turn the attention to our experience and not lose that relaxation, then the meditation takes its own course very naturally. We really have to do very little in the meditation once we learn what that relaxed, attentive container feels like in our meditation. And so I really encourage you to take quite a bit of time to explore what it means – first of all just to relax – and then what it means to apply that kind of relaxation to attending to your experience. In the guided meditation after the relaxation I suggested opening to hearing. For many people it’s a fairly easy place to maintain that relaxation, because it’s so clear that sounds are not anything that we’re doing. They’re just happening, and the ear just does its thing – we don’t have to do anything to hear, other than to just open to that sense door. And so it can be fairly relaxed to settle back and just meet the experience of hearing. I’ve also found it helpful if you can find a place, a way of paying attention, that you can be relaxed in. That’s a good place to cultivate. So if hearing works for you, if you find that you can be relaxed and just receive the experience of hearing, without either following out after it or having the mind feel like it’s narrowing down and tightening, or having the feeling that attention is squeezing down on the experience, that’s a pointer to the kind of relaxed attention that I’m talking about. When you’ve learned how to apply relaxed attention to a particular experience, then you can start seeing, well, can I try to do that with another experience, like the breathing, for example? Can I turn my attention to the breathing? And allow that relaxed attention to stay open, allow that attention to stay open and relaxed. In my own experience of learning about this kind of relaxed attention, I discovered for myself the easiest way to have that relaxed attention was through opening to a sort of a full-body awareness, to just the flow of body sensations. That’s pretty easy for me to connect with in a relaxed way. It’s fairly non-doing. You can just sit back and receive the body sensations, just as you might receive the hearing. So I discovered that I could be attentive and relaxed in that way; but as soon as I tried to turn the attention to the experience of breathing, the mind tightened down around it. I could feel that it was no longer quite so relaxed: it seemed the mind was trying to exclude other things and just find the breath somehow. It was not a big deal, but it was clearly not as relaxed as it was when solely meeting the body sensations. And what I learned was helpful for me when trying to direct my attention to the breathing, was that, as soon as I noticed the attention start to squeeze down, I would let go. I would go back to my full-body awareness. If you’re open to hearing, for example, and you’re trying to turn your attention to the breathing, and you notice there’s that kind of tightening down, go back to hearing. Go back to connecting to relaxation in whatever way works for you. And so I would meet the breathing, notice that it was tight, tense down, and I would go back, to relaxation, and then in a few moments I’d try again, and maybe I’d get a breath and a half before the mind got tight again. I’d go back – and I went back and forth like that many times during a sitting, until I could really find the place. It was as though the mind had to figure it out. I couldn’t make it happen. The mind had to learn how to apply that relaxed attention to a particular object – at least in my case. In my case it was very easy to sit back and let the flow of experience come through, but as soon as I tried to direct or focus the attention on something in particular, it got tight – and so for me I had to go back and forth. I had to go back and forth with going back to that relaxation and finding a place or a way where that relaxation, that relaxed attention, could connect with a particular experience. And that back and forth just seemed to – “Oh yeah, that’s what it’s like, ok, now try again.” And it could connect for a little while. “Oh, there it goes: the habit of tightening down kicked back in – ok, go back, oh yeah, that’s what it’s like, ok then come back, ok that’s, ok I can meet that” – until the mind began to realise how to meet that experience without tightening down on it. Now for you it may be different. For some of you, it may very easy to connect with just the breath, but when you try to open up to other experience, the mind just feels like it’s in chaos, it’s just out of control, and the mind will immediately go wandering off into thought, because it’s very difficult to apply that relaxed attentiveness to a stream of experience. So in that case you might need to do the opposite. Again, it’s a similar thing, you’re starting with where your mind can settle and relax and then moving to open to a broader flow of experience. We can turn our attention to a particular experience. It can be very narrow and small. We can pay attention to just a little point, the size of the tip of our nostril. Or we can pay attention to an area the size of our whole head, or our whole body. Or we can pay attention to the breath at the abdomen. Or we can turn our attention to hearing. Or we can turn our attention to the entire flow of experience, not restricting any sense door. So a malleable, flexible awareness can, at any point, do either one in a relaxed way. And we need in our meditation to have the skill on both sides: to be able to turn the attention to one thing in particular, or to open up and to meet the flow of experience. Different people will come in through different doors. Some people have a more natural affinity with just meeting one experience; some people have a more natural affinity with meeting a flow of experience. Wherever it is for you, such that it’s easiest to connect with relaxation, start there. Play to your strengths. Start from that place. And so if it’s easier for you to connect with one experience, the breathing to begin with, then from time to time you might want to open up to a larger experience, and you don’t have to open up to the whole flow of experience right away: you might start with the breathing. Suppose you’re paying attention at the abdomen. And instead of just keeping it focused on that area, you could, as a way to explore this opening up, begin to see, well, can I feel more, can I feel a larger area. To begin to open up the field that you’re attending to. See if you can maintain that relaxed connection without wandering off, without getting kind of spaced out in thinking about things. Often for people who have the ability to stay connected to one experience, when they open to wider experience, the mind tends to get lost more easily. And so it’s a balancing act that we each need to learn to navigate. I have more to say, but I’m going to stop there for a moment and see it there are any thoughts or questions or comments about what I’ve said. Student1: I just loved it when you said think of your mind as a muscle. That was very good for me. Thank you. (In the guided meditation, to support the sense of relaxing the mind, Andrea suggested that people try thinking of the brain as a muscle, and to allow the brain to relax. This suggestion originally comes from Gil Fronsdal.) Andrea: So that supported your relaxation? Student1: Yes. Andrea: Great. I’m happy! (laughs) Anything we can do to support that. There are so many different tools. Student2: I really appreciate you introducing me to the relaxation, because I realise I need a lot of it, and it has made such a difference in how I’m able to really look forward to meditation, and staying with it is much better. Andrea: Great. Student2: That’s really, really helped me. Andrea: I have been emphasizing this for quite a while now, so I’m glad to hear that it is bearing fruit. Student2: It’s really getting good for me. Andrea: Great. Thank you. So I’ll ask you a question. How many of you feel like it’s easier for you to be relaxed while you’re paying attention to one thing? Three or four of you, ok. And how many of you feel like it’s easier when it’s kind of a more open, spacious place? Ok. So it’s almost half and half. So for those of you who are feeling like it’s more relaxed when you’re staying with one thing, how was the guided meditation for you? Student3: It was really very helpful, because I could just let go – and, about the muscle, I loved that. It was like a sponge came to me, just to be. Hearing seems to be my relaxation, just being lost in the sound. Andrea: Ok. Being lost in the sound? Student3: Just kind of, yeah, just like my body had this kind of letting go. Andrea: But is there an awareness while you’re hearing? Student3: Of the sound, yes, that’s all there is. Andrea: Ok. So is the sound then the thing that you use as your main meditation object? Student3: Yes. Andrea: Yes, that can be really, really helpful. And so I encourage you, starting from that place, to develop a malleability of the mind. To learn how to shape and fashion the mind in a skilful way – so for example, if you have a place like the hearing, where it feels like “Ah, yes, I can really meet that”, then from time to time see if you can then turn towards some other experience with that same relaxation. You’ll probably notice that that the relaxation doesn’t last very long. Then go back to hearing. Student3: Because with the breathing, there was difficulty. Andrea: The breathing is difficult? Student3: Yeah. It, it’s like… Andrea: It gets tight and tense? Student3: Yes. Andrea: Right. So for you I suggest that you start with the hearing and then from time to time check in – “Oh, can I feel the breath” – maybe just one breath. And then go back to the relaxation of the hearing. And then “Oh, can I feel a breath” – and maybe try two this time. And then go back. To encourage this skill, I would stay primarily with the place that is easiest, and then from time to time see if you can incline or encourage the awareness to learn how to be relaxed with other experiences. That will really support you – I can’t say how great it is to be able to do that in your daily life, so that we don’t have to sit down and close our eyes. We can just be able to meet whatever’s coming at us with that kind of relaxed attention. The cultivation of this technique will really support the broadening of the mindfulness to meet more and more experience in that relaxed way. So, thank you for sharing that. Student4: I appreciated the introduction last week of concentration on multiple things or on whatever happens. Even though I still think I prefer the focus on one thing, sometimes when my mind doesn’t settle down, I’ve found in the last week it’s useful to say to myself “Well it’s ok if you just meet experience”. Andrea: Great! I’m so happy! (laughs) Student4: I feel better too! (laughs) Andrea: It’s amazing. It’s a case of “Well, this is what the mind is doing”, and you can actually learn how to meet that, and be mindful of that, so that’s wonderful. Student4: This morning, during the guided meditation, some time after you stopped guiding, I became aware that I was very anxious and I have no idea at this point what that was about. I tried to allow it – it wasn’t very pleasant. Andrea: It’s not, that’s right. Student4: It wasn’t pleasant at all, and I don’t know what happened, I don’t know where it came from. Andrea: Well, it doesn’t sound like there were particular thoughts associated with it. I mean, it wasn’t like there was a story attached to it. Student4: Not that I am aware of. Andrea: Right. And when that happens, when you’re seeing if you can just meet it, there’s no need to try to figure out where it comes from. One of our traps is “Why is this happening?” We have this really strong habit of wanting to understand why something is happening and we figure we actually think that’s what we’re supposed to do in some way. But… Student4: I did. Andrea: You did? Student4: I did think I was supposed to find out why! (laughs) That’s where I went. Andrea: Exactly! (laughs) So you know there’s actually no need to look for the why. Just the meeting of the experience. The interesting thing about concentration, if we can just meet our experience, and stay connected with whatever it is at the obvious level, that’s kind of the way concentration works, and this flow of experience is that we’re just meeting whatever’s obvious, moment-to-moment, without thinking about it or trying to figure it out or trying to understand the flow of events that led to it. Just meeting it, just experientially meeting it. As we can meet our experience in that way, the continuity of that brings the concentration which, together with the mindfulness, allows us to begin to see more clearly. Initially we start on an outer layer of – for example, anxiety is present in our system, and, ok, we just feel that anxiety. And as we pay attention to that with our mindfulness and the continuity, just trying to meet it, without thinking about it, without trying to figure it out, those two pieces together, the continuity of mindfulness, which turns into concentration, somehow begins to gently ease its way into the layers. And sometimes these things happen out of habit. You know? It’s just a habit of anxiety that has appeared. There’s no particular reason or need or thought that appeared – or there may have been, but it went by so fast you didn’t notice it. So just meeting the experience as it is, what starts to happen is that the continuity of the mindfulness begins to take us deeper into what’s actually going on, and so we start to see more clearly what’s going on in our minds and bodies – and you might at some point through just noticing what’s happening, what’s happening, what’s happening – you might notice some kind of correlation or connection to some thought or some mood that is the trigger point for the anxiety. But trying to think about it directly or to figure it out is generally disruptive to that ability of the concentration to develop and to allow the mind to actually sink in and see more clearly. That’s a great example of what often happens to us. If we can see if we can just meet our experience. It’s a trusting. It feels like a trusting to me: a trusting that what we need to see will be revealed to us. It’s a letting go of the tendency we have to try to control the ways things go. It’s like, “Ok, I want to figure this out”. There is a control aspect to it, so a kind of a letting go of that. A trusting that just meeting experience will reveal to us what we need to see. So thank you for your description. So I want to talk about a couple of qualities, well actually there’s five qualities, and I won’t talk about all of them, I’m sure, in the twenty minutes we have left. But I will just mention them briefly. There are five qualities that come along, that are cultivated as we become concentrated. These five qualities are called the factors of concentration. The first two qualities relate to “aiming the attention”. I’ll give you the Pali for these: I’m so used to the Pali for these. There are vitakka and vicara, which are aiming the attention and sustaining the attention on experience. The aiming and sustaining are where the effort comes in around the concentration practice. So aiming and sustaining the attention. Then there are three more qualities that are the results of concentration. They are piti, or rapture; sukkha, or happiness; and ekaggata, which is one-pointedness. So of these five qualities, the first two, the aiming and sustaining of the attention, are the only two that we really have any measure of choice on. We can do those a little bit. We can point our minds in the direction of those two qualities. The other three qualities – the rapture, the happiness and the one-pointedness – are the results of the practice. One-pointedness is sometimes called unification of mind. One-pointedness tends to make it sound like you’re just on one thing, and that applies only when we’re concentrating on a single object. Unification of mind refers more to the stability of mind that develops out of awareness. The stability of awareness. So that one-pointedness, that unification of mind, is present in the stable awareness that’s meeting the flow of changing experience. So those last three qualities are the results of the practice. I shall maybe cover those in a later talk. But since we don’t have too much control over them, what I’m really talking about today is setting up this container of the meditation. Those first two qualities, the aiming and the sustaining of the attention, are two of the tools that help us to set up that container. So I want to talk a little bit about each of those. When they’re talked about in the Buddha’s teachings in the discourses that he gave, they’re usually talked about as a pair. Especially with respect to concentration, they’re talked about as the aiming and the sustaining of attention. Sometimes it’s translated as “applied thought and evaluation”. The aiming is basically turning the attention to experience. For instance, right now turn your attention to the experience of your hands. Notice the experience of your hands. That quality that the mind has, that it can go somewhere, point the attention. (pause) Now pay the attention to the experience of your feet. (pause) Now pay attention to hearing. (pause) That ability of the mind to choose like that where it’s going is the quality of the aiming of the attention. I haven’t read this anywhere, but my understanding, based on my own experience, is that when we’re opening to a flow of changing experience, the aiming goes to the awareness itself. We’re basically aiming at awareness. And then the awareness is just meeting whatever is happening. So that’s a rather more subtle object to aim at. So the aiming of the attention is that ability of the mind to choose what it’s paying attention to. Then the sustaining of the attention is the ability of the mind to stay with an experience. Generally we can, with very little effort, aim the attention at something. When I say pay attention to the sensations of your lips touching together, boom, it’s right there. I mean, it’s not very hard to do that aiming of the attention. What is challenging is the sustaining. That part is like a muscle that needs to develop slowly over time. And what we tend to do in our meditation is we aim at the breath. I’m going to use the breath as an example right now – this is not saying that I think this is what you should be doing – so we aim our attention at the breath and then we think, “Ok, I need to sustain my attention” and so we hold onto it. So we’re using a lot of effort to try to hold on to that experience. If your muscles are weak, and you go to a gym, and you start trying to strengthen your muscles, you don’t start by picking up the fifty pound weights. You start by picking up the five pound weights, and working with those. And you work with those for a little while, and then you pick up the six pound weights, and you work with those for a little while. And then you pick up the seven pound weights and you work up. In a similar way, there is usually some kind of natural, what you might call residual, sustaining that occurs when you aim the attention at something. It may be half a second. It may be two seconds. So the way to cultivate that quality of sustaining isn’t by trying to hold on to the experience, but just by pointing the mind to the experience – “Oh, there’s an in-breath” and then seeing how long it is naturally sustained. “Ok, there’s an in-breath”, and then perhaps at the beginning of the out-breath remind yourself again – “Ok, there’s the out-breath”. The in-breath takes maybe two seconds. The out-breath, two seconds. So through using the aiming and sustaining together, you can cultivate a continuity of awareness that is actually fairly light. It has not got a lot of struggle or striving or effort to it. As an exercise to begin to notice these two qualities in your mind, right now, let’s just take a moment to turn your attention to an object – and we’ll use the breathing. We’ll just settle for a moment, just settle into your body. (pause) And notice wherever it is that the breathing is obvious for you. Not particularly trying to hold onto it, but just finding, just noticing, where is it in your body that the breathing is obvious for you? (pause) So now, see if you can connect with an in-breath, and when that in-breath is done, see if you can connect with an out-breath. Just enough effort – don’t make very much effort at all here. It’s really just enough to connect with that in-breath, and see whether the mindfulness stays for that period. And then again, connect with the out-breath. And does the mindfulness stay for that period? And again and again. It’s using that ability of the mind to aim at each half-breath. Another way I play with this (and you can continue to play with this while I’m speaking) is to ask yourself, how little effort do I need to stay mindful? The aiming part doesn’t take that much effort and so noticing now long the sustaining lasts for, and then aiming again. So, opening your eyes and coming out of the exercise. I’m curious. How was that? Did you get a sense of having a really light connection with the breathing so it’s not like trying to hold on to it? So the key with this vitakka and vicara, this aiming and sustaining, is to get familiar with that aiming part. Usually this doesn’t take too much effort. The place where we tend to over-exert is the on the sustaining. So notice when you turn your attention to something. How long is it natural for your mind to hang out there? You aim your attention there and take it in. And then do it again. And again, and again, and again. That very light touch of just “Oh, half breath, half breath.” The noting practice can support this. If you’re not using the breath, for instance, if you’re turning your attention to hearing, you can use the noting as a way to aim your attention at the experience. So you’re paying attention to hearing and every few seconds, you remind yourself that that’s where you’re pointing your attention – “hearing” – “hearing”. Now part of the trick is to learn how these two qualities navigate together. Because as we sustain our attention, as we can through the combination of aiming and short sustaining – so an “aim, short sustain”, “aim, short sustain”, “aim, short sustain” – that very light touch begins to cultivate these other qualities of rapture, happiness and unification of mind, and as these come into play, the mind will more naturally stay with the experience. At that point, the aiming begins to feel disruptive. If you’re trying “oh, oh, hearing, hearing, hearing” it just feels way too busy. “I can hang out for ten, maybe fifteen seconds with hearing. And then the mind will start to go off”. So beginning to get a sense of how long the sustaining is lasting. If you’re aiming the attention and you can sustain for a while, there’s no need to (laughs) keep poking yourself with that aiming. That’s another place where we often tend to make mistakes in the meditation. As the mind has settled down some, we’re agitating it through trying to stay connected through that aiming of the attention, when actually the mind is already connected. And so this takes a familiarisation with these two qualities, to get familiar with what it feels like for the mind to just naturally stay. There’s an analogy for these two qualities: the vitakka, the aiming, is compared to the striking of a bell. And the vicara, the sustaining, is compared to the sound that reverberates. And there’s a natural length of time based on that aiming during which that reverberation, that sustaining, will happen. We need to attune ourselves to that sustaining and to not do too much of that aiming as the mind begins to settle down. There are some gentle ways to aim as well. I mean the aiming can sometimes feel a little forceful. It’s like, “Breath, breath at the nose.” It can feel kind of harsh. One technique that I find helpful in aiming the attention in a very soft way is using a request for the mind and body to relax. You can also use a request at some point when the mind has relaxed, when the mind has settled down to a certain point of relaxation. It can be very amenable to requests. So settling, creating that container, finding the place where that container, that relaxed attention is present, starting with relaxing the body, relaxing the mind. And then perhaps using a request to aim the attention. So, “May the attention rest with the breathing”. When I put that kind of thing into my mind, it’s like “Oh, there’s a breath.” It’s like dropping that thought into the mind and body. The mind kind of naturally sees the next breath. So that’s one way to do a gentle aiming of the attention. Another way, and I mentioned both of these last week I think, is that sometimes when we turn our attention directly to something – and it varies depending on what it is; it’s relatively easy to turn our attention directly to hearing, or to some strong body sensation, like the sensation of our butt on the chair – the breath at times can be pretty delicate. If we try to turn our attention directly to the breath, if I’m paying attention to my breath under the sternum, which is where I tend to pay attention to it, then if I try to put my attention on that little twenty-five cent-sized piece, that quarter-sized area, it’s like, I can’t feel it, I can’t find it. I have to use a larger area of attention and then it’s almost like looking at it from the side, or looking at it using peripheral vision. This allows you to take in a larger experience. And here’s an analogy for this: If you look at stars, if there’s a really dim star up there, you can’t see it by looking directly at it, because you can’t see that dim light through the centre of the eye, but if you look just off to the side, you can see that dim star. And it’s kind of the same way with the breath. The breath can sometimes get to be really delicate, really quiet – very dim in a way. Very subtle. And if you try to look directly at it with your attention it’s like it obliterates it. So to me it feels like holding a bigger space of the attention. And yet, like looking at that star, I’m looking this direction and yet I’m paying attention just off to the side. So even though with the breath I’ve got a bigger area I’m looking in, I’m paying attention to this spot. And for me that notion of a peripheral attention, looking at it within the periphery of my attention, is a very gentle way to connect with the experience. So those are a couple of ways of gentle aiming. Oh, and it’s time to stop! I had hoped to take questions again – I apologise for that. Take care.