April 18, 2021

Paying Attention

Interest is the key to so many things related to existence. We have to pay attention to walk across the street. We know our relationships are more satisfying if we actually pay attention to one another. Our company affairs require our attention. All this seems somehow self evident. To learn more in regards to 5 Things All Men Pay Attention To check out our own web-page.
We know that attention is important, but we may not understand that attention has direct biological results.

As my friend Rick Hanson says in his beautiful book Buddha’s Human brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom, “attention shapes the brain. ” What we pay attention to is literally what we will build in our human brain tissue. Our neurons wire in response to what we focus upon.

We may believe we understand the art of focusing but many times, unfortunately, we mistake attention for judgment. We think about attention as a “critical” function. Attention is not critical. Judgment is. Attention is neutral. We begin to pay attention to something and then we start to judge it, evaluate it, categorize it and, yes, generally “criticize” it. But judging, while certainly helpful, is not attention. Judging involves a fundamental assumption that our purpose is ultimately to categorize and take action. We judge something to be done with this. The rush to being done with something does not increase our capacity to pay attention to it.

When we judge something we generally assess whether or not we need to “fix” it, reject it or enhance it, and move on. In other words, we are motivated to change it in some way. Whatever it is right now is usually not OK or not enough and it has to be altered. If our intention is to fix or change or reject something our capacity to pay for attention to it is actually minimized. We will see just as much as we think we need to see to do this. What if there is more to learn?

Attention is noticing and being with something without trying to change it. Interest takes the time to fully explore, to find out whatever there is to know about something, to view as things change by themselves without our trying to ‘fix” anything. Interest is patient and attention will be kind. No rush. No burden. No criticism.

Healing an injury needs the practice of paying attention, of being with something fully, of concentrating upon it over and over again without pressing it away or trying to change it out. It is in paying attention that we will discover the tiny threads of healing and transformation that are developing second to moment. It is attention, not really judgment, that will help our brains rewire.

So how do we let go of view and simply pay attention? How do we exercise being with whatever is happening plus learning from it? My teacher, Honest Ostaseski, founder of the Metta Start, teaches the art of paying attention. Frank’s function is and has been for many years with people who are dying. He works in the forefront of what we find difficult to pay attention to.

Frank teaches: “Welcome Every thing; Push Away Nothing”. That might audio odd at first. Why would all of us “welcome” something unpleasant? The word “welcome” confronts us, asking us to look without judgment and criticism, to invite ourselves to be open to no matter what comes, to simply pay attention.

This is not about seeking difficulty. Before my human brain injury I was not in the least interested in being unable to dress myself. Not necessarily something I sought. But once I was injured I had a choice, I can “welcome” the assistance of the people who allowed me to dress or I could judge my inability to dress and the people helping me and thus push aside the information it brought. But exactly what would I have learned about the way to put clothes on post injury easily had?

The more I paid attention, without pushing away or knowing what was happening, the more I discovered how my body moved and what I really could do to help myself. The more I actually paid attention the more my brain began to rewire the movements necessary to continue to help myself. It really is that fundamental. Attention is the key.

Paying attention is definitely ultimately an act of loving kindness towards ourselves. If we really like a child, we pay attention to her. We all watch this child thrive once we give her our attention. We all know this works. In this way we are not really different from the child. We too may thrive with attention and as grown ups, we have the capacity to give that focus on ourselves. Let’s practice simply focusing, not rushing to judgment. Let’s take a practice “Welcome Everything; Push Away Nothing. “

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