Being Mindfully Attentive
by Jan Marie Dore, Professional Certified Life Coach
- Stop multitasking
- Become more conscious of the choices you are making
- Choose to become fully engaged in everything you do
- Let your awareness rest on your breath from time to time to bring you into the present moment
- Quiet your mind to slow the inner "mind chatter’
- Master focus, attentiveness, and stillness
- Stop and take 3 deep breaths every few hours
- Notice where you are putting your attention
- Take a walk around the block staying mindfully present
- Set aside quiet time to be with your thoughts -- 5 minutes twice a day is a great start!
- Choose to respond to the sound of a bell, or your phone ringing, or every red light while in your car by bringing your attention to the moment with your breath
I recently spent ten days in Victoria, British Columbia. It’s on Vancouver Island, one of the most beautiful parts of the Pacific Rim. The sun was shining and warm all week, the cherry trees and spring blossoms were in bloom all around me. Truly -- I was in paradise! I stayed with a friend at her ocean front property. Wildlife and marine life were at my doorstep. Deer grazed outside the kitchen window and river otters frolicked in the water. I watched in amazement every morning as a new sunrise broke at dawn over the Cascade Mountains in the distance -- all purples and pinks -- casting a yellow swath of light over the water as it rose. My friend stopped me as we approached her front door and said "listen -- do you hear that?’ I could hear something, but I didn’t recognize the sound. It was baby eagles nesting in a tree out front of the house! They had a deep throaty chirp like I had never heard before. I would have missed this had we not stopped to listen. I thought -- what if I had not stopped several times a day to take a moment and drink it all in -- to soak my senses with the beauty all around me? What if I had continued my usual busy habits of often working at the computer into the wee hours? What if I had failed to notice? I would have missed the abundance of life all around me, an awareness which reminded me how truly remarkable life really is. We are continually constructing the fabric of our lives with our thoughts. The greatest control you have in your life is the power to direct your thoughts. There is a saying that "where attention goes, energy flows’. Attention is the key to your freedom, and to feeling a sense of balance and peace in your life. Yet how often are you totally unaware of what you are thinking or noticing at any given moment? Far too often, we walk through life with our minds on automatic pilot. Practicing mindfulness can lead to reduced stress as your energy is channeled into the one task at hand. Try not to lose touch with yourself during the day. Whenever you think of it over the course of the day, deliberately pay attention. Notice what you are thinking and what you are surrounded by. Let your awareness rest on your breath from time to time to bring you into the present moment. It’s in this place that everything becomes very clear and simple and you feel connected and inspired. Training the mind to be fully present in the moment is like training a small puppy. The puppy pays attention for a moment and then runs off, and you need to call it back gently and repeatedly until it does what you ask. Your mind is the same. It needs to be gently called back and asked to focus over and over until it learns the habit of paying attention. Persevere at this for several weeks, as it is said that it takes 21 days of repetition to instill a new habit. Master focus, attentiveness, and stillness. Be conscious of the choices you make, and fully engaged in every task, every moment. Become fully engaged in everything that you do. You have the power to control whether your thoughts will be directed by your will and your heart, focused in the here and now, or just random ramblings. The choice is yours. Here are some ideas on how you can begin to harness the powerful energy of your mind and your attention:
Take time to intentionally clear the clutter of your thoughts several times each day. Notice when your mind wanders and gently bring it back to what you choose to focus on. A few of the many ways you can do this are:
Practice "paying attention" steadily for a minimum of 21 days -- you will notice a difference in your life almost immediately!
A final thought: "We are what we think. All that we are arises from our thoughts. With our thoughts we make our world."
~ The Buddha