The Focus of Our Attention
by Jeanie Marshall, Marshall House
"A weak mind is like a microscope, which magnifies trifling things but cannot receive great ones."
-Lord Chesterfield The focus of our attention determines our life experiences. Where we put our attention, we put our energy. Where we put our attention, we put our consciousness. We seed the thing or idea that has our attention. Attention: A Matter of Choice Every decision is a choice. Where we put our attention can be a life-changing choice. Our attention steers our path and directs our thoughts. Sometimes it appears that we do not have a choice about where we place our attention. Sometimes we need a reminder. Consultants like me perform a valuable service when we remind others what they already know: "you have a choice." Recently, one of my regular clients -- an organization consultant -- called me, frustrated and angry about the overwhelming number of demands on his time. Six projects were due in the same week. I allowed him a few minutes of panicky explanations. Then I asked him to take a few deep breaths and assisted him to become centered. I knew in his accelerated frenetic state the only way for him to complete all his responsibilities on time was to slow down. As soon as he was out of the crisis mode, he was able to see clearly his path out of the mess. As he gave his full attention to the clarity he was seeking, he energized clear thinking. He knew what to do. I offered several suggestions related to order, sequence, delegation, and self-care strategies. However, he freed himself from the panic when he gave his full attention to turning inside himself to become centered and clear. He refocused his attention from the outer to the inner, which strengthened him to respond more effectively to his current situation. He called me two days later to report that he completed five of his projects on time and got a three-day extension on the sixth one, with no inconvenience to his client. Attention Expands the Thing The thing which has our attention grows. The thing grows in our awareness and in our reality. Many years ago (eh, gads, many, many years ago), I purchased my first car. Before I decided to buy a car, I was aware that there were Fords and Chevrolets and Chryslers and Saabs and a few other makes and models. My knowledge was general and shallow; my interest was mild. I decided I wanted to buy a Chevrolet. Suddenly, I could see Chevrolets everywhere! I even became more aware of other makes and models. It would be an overstatement to say that I was an expert -- but compared to my awareness of cars before the decision, I was quite knowledgeable and aware in only a few weeks. Cars -- most specifically Chevrolets -- had my attention. Many times I have experienced this phenomenon. That is, I have been unaware of a thing, then I become aware, and then I notice that the thing is quite prevalent. Or the thing has many nuances I had not even considered. Right or Wrong; Good or Bad I could debate for many paragraphs the classic question: Is there an absolute right and wrong (or good and bad)? However, I think it is a more important service to rephrase the question: Is our attention on what we consider to be right or on what we consider to be wrong? Do we feed the idea of good or the idea of bad? Keep in mind that we feed energy to the thing or idea that has our attention. If our attention is on what is "right" or what we consider is "right," we energize that. So too, if our attention is on what is "wrong" or "bad" or what we consider is "wrong" or "bad," we energize that. The thing to which we give our attention expands. Where is your attention? Where is Your Attention? Where is your attention? Is that place or thing or idea worthy of your attention? You have a choice. Consider for a moment a specific event or condition that has challenged you this week. With that situation in mind, ask yourself, "Where is/was my attention?" Is your attention on the inner or the outer? On the seen or the unseen? On the good or the bad? On what is right or what is wrong? On the frustration or the opportunity? On worry or hope? You have a choice. What do you want to seed with your attention? Appreciating the Whole Thing A long-time client recently reported a significant experience. She had repeatedly been reprimanded by her boss, which had led to an uncomfortable dynamic in their relationship. This has often been the focus of our consultation work together. She described several things he had done and said the day before. Ordinarily she would have reacted to him, possibly creating an argument. For a change of behavior, she decided not to dissect the events by calling them "right" or "wrong," "good" or "bad." She made a choice to give her attention to the whole. She said, "I just appreciated the whole thing." Wow! What a profound shift she had made: she moved her attention away from the fragmented parts she judged to the whole, without judgment. We can all open our consciousness greatly by simply appreciating an experience. The current jargon is "being in the flow." However, when "being in the flow" is more than a mere excuse for doing or not doing something, we are empowered. We have given our attention to the whole. Where is your attention? Taken from the [Marshall House Journal], No. 36, January, 1995. © 1995, 1997, Marshall House. All Rights Reserved. You may save this article or send it to a friend, provided this attribution paragraph remains with the article. Jeanie Marshall is an Empowerment Consultant specializing in deep transformation through energetic awareness and clearing.