The capacity for single-minded focus is made possible due to the awareness of the oneness of God built into our nature. Thoughts are easily disturbed by distractions as light as hearing scratching on a board. We can hold onto a thought without being disturbed by reality because in the background of awareness all of reality is connected.
To understand this concept, my friend Rivkah recalled a study that was done comparing master chess players to those who were not masters. Pieces were arranged on the board in a sample pattern of how a game would look and then the two groups were given a blank board and were asked to replicate the pattern. After this pieces were arranged randomly and again they were asked to replicate it. When the pieces were in the pattern of a game, the master players did better at replicating it but when the pieces were random the two groups took about the same amount of time to replicate it.
The master players didn’t just memorize where the individual pieces were. They saw groups and patterns of how the pieces would move in a game. The picture of the board became part of their intuition. The thought of where the pieces were located became integrated into a context, a pattern of movements that were imbued with this perception.
Similarly, and paradoxically when a thought in our mind is focused on with single-minded exclusivity while at the same time connected to the whole, then the distraction is no longer a distraction but is part of the whole. Ultimately this is the meaning of God being in all of reality. The act of holding onto a thought is a manifestation of the awareness of God’s oneness, which is the awareness that all of reality is connected.
This reminded me of what happens when a group. When for whatever reason, one of the individuals is perceived as a disturbance he will be one. But when the group can somehow include him, he will no longer be a disturbance. He’ll be part of the whole.