“It has been explained before that in ordinary conditions of life we do not remember ourselves; we do not remember, that is, we do not feel ourselves, are not aware of ourselves at the moment of perception, of an emotion, of a thought or of an action. If a man understands this and tries to remember himself, every impression he receives while remembering himself will, so to speak, be doubled. In an ordinary psychic state, I simply look at a street. But if I remember myself, I do not simply look at the street; I feel that I am looking, as though saying to myself: ‘I am looking.’ Instead of one impression of the street, there are two impressions, one of the street and another of myself looking at it. (divided attention). This second impression, produced by the fact of my remembering myself, is the ‘additional shock.’ Moreover, it very often happens that the additional sensation connected with self-remembering brings with it an element of emotion,”
Efforts to remember oneself, observation of oneself at the moment of receiving an impression, observation of one’s impressions at the moment of receiving them, registering, so to speak, the reception of impressions and the simultaneous defining of the impressions received, all this taken together doubles the intensity of the impressions….”
……the highest matter can be “produced by the organism from air, that is, from the second kind of food. This, however, is obtained only by making a conscious effort* at the moment an impression is received. …. “It is necessary to understand what this means. We all breathe the same air. Apart from the elements known to our science, the air contains a great number of substances unknown to science, indefinable for it, and inaccessible to its observation. But exact analysis is possible both of the air inhaled and of the air exhaled.
This exact analysis shows that although the air inhaled by different people is exactly the same, the air exhaled is quite different. Let us suppose that the air we breathe is composed of twenty different elements unknown to our science. A certain number of these elements are absorbed by every man when he breathes. Let us suppose that five of these elements are always absorbed. Consequently, the air exhaled by every man is composed of fifteen elements; five of them have gone to feeding the organism. But some people exhale not fifteen but only ten elements, that is to say, they absorb five elements more. These five elements are higher ‘hydrogens.’ These higher ‘hydrogens’ are present in every small particle of air we inhale. By inhaling air we introduce these higher ‘hydrogens’ into ourselves, but if our organism does not know how to extract them out of the particles of air, and retain them, they are exhaled back into the air. If the organism is able to extract and retain them, they remain in it. In this way, we all breathe the same air but we extract different substances from it. Some extract more, others less. “In order to extract more, it is necessary to have in our organism a certain quantity of corresponding fine substances. Then the fine substances contained in the organism act like a magnet on the fine substances contained in the inhaled air. We come again to the old alchemical law: ‘In order to make gold, it is first of all necessary to have a certain quantity of real gold.’ ‘If no gold whatever is possessed, there is no means whatever of making it.’ “The whole of alchemy is nothing but an allegorical description of the human factory and its work of transforming base metals (coarse substances) into precious ones (fine substances).”
Excerpts from P.D. Ouspensky ISOM
*Conscious effort to divide attention between what we do (the object of our attention) and our physical body at the same time, to bring attention to it as well (like noticing my own breathing). The car’s autopilot (e.g. daydreaming) can be switched off, I may take control of driving, concentrate attention fully on speeding, be in the moment, yet identifying with it, not being aware of my physical body behind the wheel, only one-way attention.
The effort to control one’s emotions to save the expenditure of energy needed for conscious effort:
the practice of not expressing unpleasant or negative emotions, doubt, fear, anger, irritation, self-pity, etc….
of not ‘identifying’ with every nonsense, of not considering inwardly (what others think of me) but externally (what needs to be done) …..