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My Meditative Moments

Mindfulness… “Attention Management”

by meditative - January 22nd, 2015.
Filed under: Insights for Mindful Intelligence, Zen Henry.

Attention Deficit Disorder is often associated with children, and typically overlooked with adults. Today, we are virtually connected round-the-clock. We are working longer hours, more weekends, pressured to produce more with less, overwhelmed with continuous streams of information, and seemingly much less personal time for family, relaxation, and restoration. As a result, we have a mind hard-wired for relentless activity- routinely shifting & wandering- impulsive & reactive- unfocused & exhausted. We aspire for more time, but what we truly need to better manage is our ATTENTION.

When we are unable to skillfully regulate our attention, we become more susceptible to our everyday stressors. With so much perceived information to process and assimilate, we often lack the necessary ‘space’ in awareness to effectively handle unexpected stressors. Routine changes often become larger than their reality as stressors are more about our perception of the event or the way we relate to it than the actual event itself. Perception and the relationship we form to what we experience are greatly affected by the QUALITY of our ATTENTION.

Mindfulness practice is an effective way to cultivate this quality of attention. It’s our inherent ability to deliberately pay attention to what is present without judgment. Applying mindfulness, we routinely and intentionally refrain from filtering our experiences as good or bad, right or wrong, simple or hard, etc. Mindfulness is the art of modulating our mind through awareness & attention training. When our attention becomes more relaxed, alert, and stable, it becomes easier for us to regulate its focus. A focused mind tends to be more responsive and less reactive. As a result, we spend more time & energy with what’s directly before us, and less with what has been or what might be. We also learn how a single-pointedness in focus- like the breath– can help us to engage our activities and relationships more efficiently and whole-heartedly while reducing our perceived stressors through this form of ATTENTION MANAGEMENT.

In this modern age of so much compelling distraction the antidote seems to be attention management. Mindfulness is a practical way to develop and refine this inherent capacity we all share. Our brains are already wired to attain mindful awareness. We simply need to skillfully learn how to exercise this mental muscle in order to experience the real & lasting benefits. As we have discussed in other blog postings, some of the benefits of cultivating this type of awareness and skill include: stress reduction, greater emotional intelligence, mood regulation, enhanced immune system, increased clarity & calmness of mind, equanimity (balance), energy, zeal for life, etc.

As we continue practicing mindfulness- unfiltered present moment awareness– we can learn to clearly notice without indulging our internal activities of mind (thoughts & feelings), and the physical sensations of body as they arise in response to the changing external conditions around us. Skillful regulation of attention can help us stay the course despite the difficulties and discomfort we may experience with our ever-changing lives. Our discursive minds have the potential to be re-wired by the way we repetitiously and abidingly attend to them… over and over again… moment-by-moment. Neuroplasticity studies of the brain have proven this premise that we can change our circuitry for what we habitually think & feel by how we routinely pay attention. This transformation begins when we consistently show up with the intention to exercise our inner capacity for awareness and well-being.

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