What do you pay attention to? This blog is all about learning to pay attention to the things that serve you the most…
This blog has come about following an innocent comment I heard. “Notice what you’re paying attention to.”
These few words triggered something in me that has been evolving over the last 24 hours.
Listening is something that many of us think we’re good at. We have ears and we use them when people talk so we’re good listeners, right?
Well it seems to me that listening is rather more than that. Listening is about Being. When we are truly listening there is no opportunity for thoughts to arise in our mind. Or at least, they arise but we don’t notice them because we are so engaged in listening. In Being.
I’ve written about listening before in the context of the affect of listening to negative self talk on the physical body. That blog was called What Emotional Diet Are You On And How Does it Affect You Physically?
Today I want to explore in more detail the art of paying attention; paying attention to what you are listening to.
Yesterday I woke up feeling heavy with an anxious feeling in my stomach. I didn’t want to get out of bed and was struggling to find enthusiasm for the day having slept poorly.
Ordinarily, I would have done everything I could to change the thoughts I was having and the associated feelings. Of course, I know intellectually that it isn’t possible to change thoughts and feelings but none the less there is a part of me that believes I can.
But yesterday was different. Yesterday the thought occurred to me that I could just be with the thoughts and feelings. That I could be peaceful with them and that there was no need to change them.
This is something I’ve been playing around with a lot in recent months. What if we just left our thoughts and feelings alone? What if we just let them be there, without judgement or the desire to make them different?
What I’ve discovered, and I’d invite you to take a look for yourself, is that when I soften to the experience I almost always fall into a space of peace.
It’s as if the act of being with what is, allows the experience to flow; for the thoughts and feelings to flow through me just as it seems they are designed to do.
Pay attention to what you’re listening to…
Following this experience I heard the words “pay attention to what you’re listening to.”
Around an hour later, when I sat down to write in my journal (I’m currently working through The Artist’s Way), something different happened.
Usually I fill three pages of my book with all the rubbish thoughts that are in my head. All the things that have been swirling around overnight and on repeat.
But yesterday I re-heard the words “pay attention to what you’re listening to” and suddenly it hit me like a tonne of bricks.
I spend most of my life paying attention to the thoughts in my mind. To the narrator of life, rather than to life itself. And I cement them into existence by speaking or writing about them.
And in that instant I started to pay attention to what was going on in the garden in front of me and this is what flowed onto the pages:
“The sea gulls are calling, up in the sky.
Swirling and whirling in the warm currents as they rise about my house.
The wind rustles the trees and my dog watches with patience for the birds to land in her garden.
Head cocked, eyes and ears alert; listening, waiting, ready to pounce at the glass door to protect me.
An aeroplance cuts through the sky, unseen but heard. The silvery grey clouds hiding its body from my site.
Who am I?
Who is this ‘I’ that the aeroplane is hiding from?
Perhaps the awareness that it and I and the dog exists?
Presence to it all.
Precense to the feelings of inadequacy on the A Little Peace of Mind call last night.
Presence to the feelings of insecurity.
Presence to the busy mind that chuntered on and on last night.
Presence to the strange dreams.
Presence to the sun and dog and birds.
Presence to life; living.
Presence to the sparrow collecting food for his baby in the nest in the passion flower; driven by life, not thoughts. Driven by the intelligence of life.
Available for me too.
Practice the art of noticing what is being listened to. What is this mind-body paying attention to?
Is it ‘helpful’? Does it feel ‘good’? Does it leave the body feeling relaxed or tense?”
Learning to pay attention
So I feel like a child that’s had the stabilisers removed from their bike.
I feel a bit wobbly and uncertain but at the same time I know how to do this. Something in me knows how and what to pay attention to.
There is a feeling of calm flooding my body as the full realisation of those words are absorbed into my cells.
So many of us pay attention to the ‘wrong’ things. I say ‘wrong’ because of course there is no such thing. The mind makes up whether something is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ based on conditioning, experiences, thoughts and beliefs.
But many of us pay attention to thoughts that feel awful. And it is the feeling that alerts us to this; that tight, constricted uneasy sensation is showing us the way. Revealing where our attention lies.
So what if our only job as humans is to notice where our attention is?
In the noticing, that same space that I talked about earlier, opens up with the possibility of something fresh arising.
In that space we touch our Being.
And that Being is profoundly peaceful and expansive.
What are YOU paying attention to and how does it make you feel?
Inspired by this blog I’ve created a hoodie. All of my hoodies are print to order to prevent waste and are made from organic, Fairtrade cotton.
If you’d like to buy this one you’ll find it in my hoodie shop:
‘Attention’ Unisex Inspirational Hoodie (Organic, Fairtrade)
What are you paying attention to? Often we pay attention to the things that inadvertently make us feel awful. We pay attention to our scary thoughts rather than to the life that is going on around us.
By becoming aware of what you’re paying attention to there is the possibility of experiencing more peace and happiness.
If you’d like to read the article that inspired this hoodie then head to my blog entitled “Learning To Pay Attention.”