by cyamitide How Nines Pay Attention
When Nines "go on automatic," they can complete complicated tasks without paying conscious attention to what their hands and bodies are doing. We all have the ability to learn skills and to perform them mechanically. For example, there is the common experience of "waking up" upon arriving home, with no recollection of having made the drive. There is also the example of speed typists, who report that they can fantasize or think about a problem, while turning out reams of accurate copy at 90 wpm.
The trick for the typists is to type without reading the material. They section off just enough attention to get the mechanics of the job done, while simultaneously ruminating about other things. This style of attention can be called coprocessing, a way of doing more than one mental operation at the same time.
Nines report that they dip in and out of conversations. A sector of their attention is mechanically focused on what is being said, but they can simultaneously coprocess another train of thought or feel themselves merging into what they suppose other people are feeling. Most Nines describe coprocessing as sliding from one object of attention to another. For example, a word in a conversation may trigger a memory, trigger an inner monologue about the memory, trigger feelings about how the present conversation is similar to the past.
These interior diversions go on while the Nine is still aware of how the conversation is developing. Like the motorist who arrived at home without a memory of having driven there, Nines can wake up to hear themselves give a passable reply, having forgotten the topic of conversation. Nines say that they tune their mental radio to two or three stations, slipping between classical, country, and rock 'n' roll.
A profound version of the ability to coprocess is described by some Meditators as having a mind full of pinwheels. In this version attention is simultaneously focused on several things at once, perhaps the carpet pattern, the buttons on a sleeve, a profound emotion, and a couple of trains of thought. A Nine who looks blanked out and inattentive to others may internally be laboring under the burden of too much to do.
Because Nines are asleep with respect to their own position, they do not habitually look for information that supports a strategic course of action. New situations can be perceived globally where all the elements are recognized and can be described, but one one thing stands out as particularly important or worthy of mention. This is in contrast to the perception of point Three which is focused on the elements in new situations that support particular tasks. It is also distinct from the perception of type Six, which is skewed toward the hidden interactions between people.
Nine is aware of all the surface elements and all the interactions under the surface, but finds it hard to pick out what is important and significant from the inessential details. Nines are aware of everything, but they find it difficult to identify the correct starting point or discriminate between the critical issues and the background noise. Attention circulates freely between what is essential in a situation and what is irrelevant to the central task. It is this habit of attention that perpetuates the loss of a personal position. How can one decide upon a meaningful position when everything seems to have equal importance? There is no sense of conflict, because nothing stands out as more important than anything else.