The Open Focus Brain:
Breaking the Addiction to Narrow Focus

For Beyond 50's "Natural Healing" talks, listen to an interview with Dr. Les Fehmi.  He'll explain that many of us have become stuck in "narrow-focus attention" : a tense, survival mode of attention that holds us in a state of chronic stress - and which lies at the root of common ailments including anxiety, depress, ADD, stress-related migraines and more. To improve these conditions, we must learn to return to a relaxed, diffuse, and creative form of attention he calls "Open Focus." 

"Narrow-objective attention is focusing on one or a few important things as the foreground, and dismissing all other stimuli, making everything else the background," explained Fehmi.

Narrow, Objective Attention

Through evolution, humans are able to respond well to immediate and short-run, emergency situations using narrow, pinpoint focus.  We were not designed to rely on that form of attention because not everything is critically urgent; our well-being is not always at stake. 

Chronic use of narrow, rigid focus only leads anyone to become fatigued, stressed out, emotionally tense, and in fear mode of fight or flight.  Modern living bombards us with a glut of information and stimuli, keeping us habitually in narrow focus.

Dropping Into the Alpha Brain Wave State

As a pioneer in biofeedback experimentation to measure the EEG (brain wave frequencies) of the mind, he found that there are exercises that can be done to produce the most phase-synchronous alpha state.

The Alpha brain-wave frequencies relate to being relaxed, yet alert.  On the extreme, opposite end are the high Beta brain-wave frequencies associated with focused, external attention that can create tense muscles, anxiety, and intense emotions.

When volunteers for Fehmi's biofeedback experiments were asked to imagine the space between objects, their brains immediately registered the symmetrical waves of high-amplitude alpha.  

"Some notice positive changes in mood, tension, and anxiety...in a single half-hour session.  And long-term effects included improved memory, clearer thinking, and heightened creativity," observed Femhi.

The key to releasing stress is when the mind can creatively contemplate on space, timelessness and silence. By maintaining an awareness of space in their mind or look at the space between sacred lines, like a mandala, Eastern mystics have been able to achieve deep peace in a very short time during meditation.

Applications of Open-Focus

Over the years, Dr. Fehmi has witnessed the ways Open-Focus has helped many: working with athletes to achieve peak performance; students who can learn better with less effort and distraction; psychotherapy clients resolving painful emotions; and others who dissolved their physical pain, whether acute or chronic.


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