If you want to work with Introvision it is essential to learn about the adequate inner attitude of mindfulness with which we approach the Introvision practice. It is only with the right attitude of mindfulness that the processing of imperatives can take place.
A good starting point is to begin with auditory exercises. So if there is a fairly busy road nearby, at home or at an outdoor cafe, try to focus mainly on your hearing sense. The first step is to narrow the focus of your attention: try to isolate the sounds of a single vehicle, a scooter or a bus, and to pursue this individual vehicle with your ears. Listen closely as it approaches, drives past you, and eventually fades away. Once you have followed this protocol for a couple of times, switch to a broad state of perception. This time, experience the surrounding sounds as a soundscape. Don’t focus on individual sounds, but rather on the interaction of all the different sounds. Try to perceive the changes that arise in this sound matrix. Now switch back and forth between narrow and broad perception a couple of times. This is a good way to practice switching from our common, everyday mode of perception, which tends to be rather focused, to a broader state of perception, as required by Introvision.
A similar exercise can be practiced with music. Classical music is ideal for alternating between narrow and broad perception. Start by closely focusing on a single instrument; then broaden your attention to perceive the interaction of all instruments, an ever-changing tapestry of sound constantly amended by new instruments while others fall silent. Try to perceive your own reactions: what happens when you focus on a single instrument, and what changes if you listen to the concert as a whole? Get the most out of this exercise by registering not only the music, but also all of your internal reactions. It may help to take short notes about the experience.
If you want to practice mindfulness on the physical level, sit up straight and upright with closed eyes and focus your perception on each body part, one after the other. Start with your feet: focus on how well you can perceive your feet, how they feel exactly. Don’t try to visualize your feet, but rather feel whether they are warm or cold, if there are parts that hurt or if there is any noticeable tension. Even if there is some tension or pain, it is not your goal to do anything about that. Just take note of what is there, without wanting to change anything. Eventually move on by focusing your attention on your legs the same way you did with your feet; continue up to the hips, the belly, the chest, the back, the neck, your hands and arms, and finally to the head with its individual parts of the face.
It is important to keep in mind that it is not the purpose of this exercise to respond to any sensations of pain or tension immediately, but to simply observe them. This is, in fact, an essential skill when practicing Introvision: to observe something without wanting to change it. You may experience that pain or stress sometimes actually dissolve on their own if you just perceive them for what they are.
Once you have developed interest or even pleasure in these mindfulness exercises, you can extend your “training program” through contemplation exercises: sit down upright with a straight back, close your eyes and ask yourself within your head: “What is love for me?” Let the answers rise from within. The point of this exercise is not to ponder what exactly love is, by analyzing the concept or reciting the ideas of great philosophers – you should not write an essay on love –, but to allow for whatever comes up when you ask yourself this question – images, feelings, memories, or fragmented thoughts. Take a nonbiased look at every impression that comes to your mind and then let them go again to make room for the next one that pushes to the surface.
This type of contemplative perception can be illustrated by the following scene: imagine you are sitting in an outdoor restaurant across from a large department store just watching how different people leave the building. You take them all in, one by one, but you don’t follow them home; people just enter your field of vision, and then they disappear again. Just as these people leave the store of their own accord, your thoughts, images, sensations, and ideas come up independently from within yourself. The key issue of contemplation is not to think, not to analyze, but to just observe everything – even those things you do not understand at first sight, for example, when a memory from your childhood pops up all of sudden, one which you normally would not associate with the term “love.” The question, “What is love for me?” is used as a stimulus – it’s interesting to see what your subconscious mind does with this without interfering consciously and actively in this process.
Another way of mindfulness training is to practice broad perception in everyday life. You can try, for example, to switch from our “default” mode of focused concentration to the state of broad perception while walking a route that does not require your constant full attention (so as not to run in front of cars, for example). Most likely, you will experience that you notice far more things than usual. Many people are shocked to realize how little they normally see of the world when practicing this exercise. And while the state of broad perception has the tendency to blur the contours of individual things, you are able to see other things which so far have never managed to skip the barrier installed by narrow focus.
Another way to practice broad perception is at a meeting which you attend as a passive observer rather than as an active participant. Instead of pondering other business affairs or planning your evening, try to switch to broad perception in this situation. People who have tried this reported that they got a much clearer sense of the general mood in the room as well as of nuances they would have normally missed. Sometimes it is also easier to recognize contexts and patterns if the state of perception is set to broad as opposed to only focusing on the content.
Usually people experience the mode of broad perception as relaxing in and of itself. You may have experienced this yourself: imagine sitting by a lake and letting your eyes glide across the water without a specific goal. More often than not, this is enough to evoke a feeling of tranquility. Or you sit on a hill on a bench and your eyes wander across the landscape, taking in everything without wanting to recognize anything specific, just feeling calm and relaxed – this, as well, is the effect of a spontaneously broadened perception.
If you take on these broad perception exercises specifically to practice mindfulness, however, there is another important feature that must also be trained: Try to practice to keep your mind from judging any and all of the thoughts, ideas, and feelings that come up. Again, this is a task which is easier said than done! Our default mode of operation is to constantly evaluate everything – and in most cases, we actually need these reviews for all the necessary small and large decisions that make up our lives.
But if you are in the mode of broad perception, observing the traffic at a lively intersection in order to notice everyone who comes by and then letting them go again, judgments are strictly off limits! But even with all good intentions in mind, especially in the beginning it will happen repeatedly that you catch yourself thinking: “That is one ugly color for a car!”, or, “That man looks funny!”, or, “Wow, great bike!” Try to proceed without any value judgments whatsoever – and if you realize that another judgmental thought crept in anyway, then take note of this as well – without judging it! Avoid the trap to judge your own inability not to evaluate.
If you perform these exercises regularly and have developed a certain routine to consciously monitor your own thoughts, you may be surprised just how often you judge people, things, and situations in everyday life – at least that is the case with most people. But simply realizing how often you do this is the first step in the training process to stop it. For in Introvision, we need exactly this genuine state of mindfulness which abstains from value judgments. And it also helps in everyday life to only judge things if it is actually useful or necessary – in any case, it makes general relaxation and stress reduction easier.
Once you have sufficiently practiced the switch between broad and focused perception, you can continue to expand your training by trying to perceive your breathing while you are in the mode of broad perception. And in the last step of the exercise, you simultaneously try noticing what happens around you, feeling your breathing, and registering your thoughts without pursuing individual impressions, just letting them come and go the same way traffic emerges at the intersection and then disappears again. Imagine you are sitting on a river watching colorful autumn leaves drift by; the same way the leaves pass through your field of perception, individual thoughts float through your mind. Take them into consideration, but don’t try to hold them, and don’t swim after them. Simply perceive your thoughts as mental activity, without judgment, and without the urge to follow them.