Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Slow down, and take stock...


I recently had an idea around attention. I had been thinking on the notion of how powerful our attention is. How our attention is what really enlivens our ideas, our pursuits, the fruits of our labors - and the world in general. I think about what people are paying attention to - on the internet, on television, in movies, in families and friends around us, on politics, on government, on fears, hopes, desires, dreams and on and on.

It occurred to me that it might an interesting exercise for us to stop and take stock of where our attention is placed. Take some time and stop the world, still the mind and then gently ask ourselves where our focus is on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and more importantly, moment to moment basis. One way to start would be to simply make a list of our daily focus of attention, from hour to hour.

Perhaps the moments in between chores, job and home, quiet moments at home or in the car between places are the gems. What are we thinking of when we don’t have to be engaged with an obligation - where are our daydreams taking us? (or are we busy on our blackberries, or compulsively checking our email or facebook as we walk past the computer, just out of habit?)

I am guessing that even just doing this exercise will enhance our conscious presence of mind and awareness of our thoughts in a constructive way. Perhaps we’ll notice the bird singing outside our window, or remember the dream we had last night that got covered over by busy-ness as soon as our feet hit the floor this morning.

I think it’s those thoughts that flit by when we are in between that sometimes have the most to offer. And that it is important to create or allow for these spaces in the between, where we can wake up to our true voice underneath it all. And remind ourselves to come back to center and pay attention. Real attention, with presence.

This morning, I have been paying attention to the much cooler air (ah, screened porch sleeping), the sound of fall in the air - have you ever noticed how the way things sound changes from season to season? I have paid attention to the sounds of the pileated woodpeckers chatting more than usual, the golden sunlight filtering through the trees, brightening slowly through the early morning hours, the stillness in the air, the fresh energy that the cool air inspires and how that makes me feel about the things I need to get moving on, like getting some kind of fall/winter garden into the earth. On that note, I discovered a nice blog this morning:, which offers some nice musings and ideas for more sustainable living on the planet and a book, The Call of the Land, which promises some solutions in this vein. I do believe that we must all endeavor to pay more attention to the creative vision entailed in bringing our world back into more balance...

In reading over this post, I am struck by the way we use the term, to "pay attention." Imagine that our attention is actually a currency (current=energy) much like money, but in reality more dear. If we think about our attention as valuable as (really more than) money - how does this affect how we "spend" or "pay" our attention?

What are you paying attention to today?

1 comment:

Adam Stoltman said...

As always..........simple, powerful and inherently wise.

Beautifully written too.

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