How Are We Going to Pay Attention?

I’m not sure about you, but for me, when I get stressed and overwhelmed with the state of the world in which we live in, I forget to pay attention. And when I forget to pay attention, I break things and things go wrong more easily than at any other time! Just the week before Christmas, I broke two things where glass shattered all over the kitchen. One break wasn’t that serious, the other was a beautiful bowl gifted to me – a real loss indeed.

It was when that bowl broke, that I realized that I needed to pay more attention to being fully present in each and every moment. I was already taking time in my morning meditations to pay attention to my breath, to be focused on it entering and leaving my body and not to get lost in my thoughts. And obviously, given the times we live in, that was not enough. Don’t you find that it’s often easier to give lip service to this kind of attention as opposed to actually living it in each moment?

And that can be hard as we bring a close to 2020. There’s so much to let go of, so many lives that have been affected. I’m reminded of the words of Pablo Coehlo where he says, “It’s the simple things in life that are the most extraordinary.” Ahh! That began to shine some light on my predicament because I realized that when I take the time to pay attention to each moment, I have the opportunity to be aware of the extraordinary, or the holy hiding in the ordinary events of our lives. The events of this past year have the possibility of being a reminder of what we forget that is already alive and well inside of us.

And this is where paying attention becomes a spiritual practice, because if we allow it, we can become aware at each and every moment of our connection to those around us by being open, available, and curious. The speaker at Winter Eliot, Guy Dauncy, invites us to embrace our creativity mode and to have the response to life’s happening is predominantly yes! I find that when I pay attention to those around me, I let go of my fears, my judgements, my fear of learning, changing, and growing as a person. I want to live in that place where the ordinary becomes the sacred; where my eyes are opened to the places where love is in abundance and where very simple gestures make a profound difference.

And so, one of the ways we can get through these unprecedented times is to bring back to life the practice of paying attention. Each time a phone rings can be a reminder to breathe, pay attention, and look for the sacred. Each time we greet someone, we can take a moment to breathe, pay attention, and focus on the sacred or holy in that interaction. These are the small acts that string together to make a life. At least, I hope that by doing so, I’ll not break as many things in my life!