Einstein posed the question “Is the universe friendly?”
I find this to be a very useful question and one that benefits you the more you ask and answer it. And it opens the door to another question.
This too is a question that I think needs to be asked and answered often, but why stop there? You need to do something about it. You need to make certain that the answer is “yes, human being are friendly.”
Not long after the invention of language man began to wonder what the meaning of life is. I think that we are here to make the most of what makes us unique. And I suggest that what is truly unique to human beings is attention.
Human beings are the only critters on the planet with attention. Attention is the intentional focusing of awareness. Attention is a focused beam of light while awareness is a broad unfocused illumination.
You live in a huge sea of possibles, things you might focus on. Your, attention scans this sea and lands on something in particular. Your attention allows you to make purely human sense of the world and everything in it. Your attention defines what you focus on in your life. In other words, it allows you to prioritize your perceptions. (In some future blog or book I will go into much greater detail on the subject of attention.)
Attention is your particular gift as a human and in order for you to be “friendly” you need to maximize that gift. If you don’t make the most of your gift you are likely to be grouchy, seek problems and complain a lot. You are also likely to forget to be grateful for the simplest things. You are likely, though I know it sounds weird, to get angry with a little traffic, get livid when your cell phone drops out or take for granted outrageous luxuries like airline travel, hot and cold running water and the ability to have strawberries even when they are out of season.
There is so much to be grateful for and there is a simple reason that you often don’t notice anything but problems. You haven’t learned how to use your attention effectively. In fact, your attention is so out of control that it is a stretch to suggest that it really is even “your” attention.
The really good news is that it isn’t difficult to gain mastery over attention. It is a useful though to understand that your current experience of life is one without mastery of attention. Being busy is a sign of runaway attention so is stress and so is sensory and information overload. Misuse of attention exhausts you, upsets you and undermines both your dreams and experience of the moment.
Beginning to master your attention will free up your time and energy. It will have you be much less serious and it will result in your being much lighter and letting go, relaxing into situations that used to upset you.
Mastering attention will allow you to make love to the universe, and that is the biggest bonus of all.
I am going to walk you through a number of different processes to master attention. But we will begin with one basic, simple, profoundly powerful exercise.
Bring your attention in, inside of yourself, inside of your body, your mind and yourself. You can close your eyes, that often helps. Just bring every bit of attention that you possibly can inside of yourself. Keep it in for a few moments, whatever is comfortable. Then move your attention out, as much as possible. Move every single bit of your attention outside of yourself.
I call this exercise the old in/out. Attention in/attention out.
Practice this for a minute here or there throughout the day. Practice a bunch of times each day but begin slowly. To get into shape, hopefully, you don’t start by running ten or twenty miles. Don’t start the old in/out exercise by doing a lot at once. This exercise is very powerful, its effects will sneak up on you.
Your ability to control your attention will begin with the first few times you do the exercise but it may take a few days or even a couple of weeks before you notice tangible results and are ready for the next exercise. Remember, build gradually: this is foundational attention play and with a good foundation you are well on your way to mastering attention.
For more information on love and attention, I recommend you check out Urbanmonk.net‘s post on Acceptance and Attention.
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