Perhaps you have seen the video clip.
There are two groups of three students. One group is wearing black T-shirts, the other, white ones.
Each group has a basketball and they are passing it back and forth. A narrator’s voice instructs you to count how many times the ball is passed back and forth among the group wearing white T-shirts.
You focus intently and count the number of passes.
The narrator then asks, “How many passes did you count?” He answers the question and then asks “But, did you see the gorilla?”
At some point a person dressed in a gorilla suit walked through the two groups, turned, paused, faced the camera, beat his chest, turned again and then disappeared off-screen.
This video clip has been shown thousands of time to groups ranging from just a few people to hundreds in a room. Invariably, the results seldom differ; around 50% of viewers, so busy counting the passes, fail to see the gorilla. Most of those were able to correctly count how many times the ball was passed from one white shirt to another.
Their attention is riveted on the ball being passed back and forth.
Of those who did notice the gorilla, few were able to accurately say how many times the ball was passed.
This occurrence – known as in Inattentional Blindness – provides us with a clear illustration of how large a role our attention (focus) plays in our visual perception.
Inattentional Blindness is also a further example of our inability to focus on more than one thing at a time.
This powerful video demonstrates, in an amusingly entertaining way, the role our visual perception plays in filtering out much of what is not occupying our focus even when it is right in front of us.
All our focus is centred on counting the number of times the ball is passed between the players wearing white shirts. We not only fail to see the gorilla, we also unable to simultaneously count the number of times the ball is passed among the black shirts.
And this is how we live our lives, shifting from one object of attention to the next and then the next.
And our take away from this is the strong reminder that energy flows to where our attention goes.
Whatever we are focusing on is drawing almost all of our energy and conscious awareness, offering us a unique opportunity to bring powerful and sustainable change into our very being.
We’ve all had the experience of being so focused on, and engrossed in, something – perhaps a fascinating conversation, or the high drama unfolding in a movie – that we have lost awareness of everything else going on around us.
This happens daily. We arrive at our destination with no memory of the drive itself because we lost ourselves in the memories brought back by that song on the radio.
So, at the end of the day, when you come home from work tired, drained, stressed and with a headache that feels like someone is drilling directly into your brain and all you want to do is collapse on the couch, turn on the TV, open that bag of chips, pour yourself a drink and veg out, it is safe bet that 100% of your focus is on how you feel.
You had begun the day by promising herself you would come home, change and go to the gym.
As long as you allow your focus to remain where it is, you also blinding yourself to how you would feel if you sprang off the couch, gleefully assembled your workout gear, went to the gym and pushed yourself harder than you ever have before.
And yet, if you allow yourself to focus – really focus – on both the immediate and future benefit to you in going to the gym, those feelings of fatigue and stress will rapidly recede and be replaced with excited energy.
Inattentional blindness can also be called attentional focus. What we are focusing on right now is our sole reality in this moment which means we are also blind to everything else.
If you focus for just a few moments you will see (and feel) all the good that can come your way by going to the gym.
And remember to keep your eyes open for the gorilla.
Till we read again.