Expanding Awareness

Don't crash into the tree!

By Michael Ashcroft | 3 min read
Photo by Mihai Lazăr on Unsplash

I recently came across the concept of target fixation on a walk around Wikipedia.

Target fixation is an attentional phenomenon observed in humans in which an individual becomes so focused on an observed object (be it a target or hazard) that they inadvertently increase their risk of colliding with the object. Wikipedia

This phenomenon should be familiar to any parent who's taught their child to ride a bike. The child might be afraid of crashing into the tree, so they fixate on the tree, so, of course, they crash into the tree.

The dad laughing in the background is just wonderful

What stood out to me was what the Wikipedia articule suggests as a solution to target fixation:

To avoid this phenomenon, one can be aware and in control of vision when in a panic mode or in a reward mode. A person should think about what they see and be aware of their environment before making any decisions. Wikipedia

Or, in other words, keeping one's awareness expanded helps to avoid target fixation.

This is just a short note, but it points at something much bigger that I'd like to explore further, which is the idea of global non-fixation.

Fixation happens all the time. We get stuck in familiar patterns of movement, of belief and, as the example above shows, goal orientation. Fixation limits our various capacities and introduces a kind of generalised tension into our system (mind and body).

Alexander Technique teaches us how to notice any form of fixation and un-fixate from it. This allows us to make new choices that were previously unavaiable because of the fixation, and the constantly renewed state of global unfixation is itself a highly pleasant, vivid way of being.

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