Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Attention! Attention! Attention!

Attention (Merriam-Webster):
A: the act or state of applying the mind to something
B: a condition of readiness for such attention involving especially a selective narrowing or focusing of consciousness and receptivity

I once read about a man in the 13th century who traveled hundreds of miles over difficult terrain for the opportunity of communicating with a Zen Master. I say, “communicate,” because this Guru did not speak out loud, he would only write.

Seeker: Master, please … after all the decades of your searching for enlightenment … what is the key to wisdom?

Guru: (Taking piece of charcoal and writing on stone) Attention

Seeker: What?

Guru: Attention! Attention!

Seeker: You aren’t understanding me … I am seeking after wisdom…

Guru: Attention! Attention! Attention!

            Yes, yes, well said Mr. Miyagi! Attaining wisdom demands we pay attention. However, this begs the question: to what or to whom? Ahhhh, yes, Daniel-san, Miyagi has hope for you. Attention is context specific: within this or that context, what are my goals, what is my mission, my purpose here, and what behaviors will keep me moving toward success? Our attention then is focused upon congruence between context, our goals within that context, and behaviors.

If I am in a business meeting and my attention is on my children at home, there is a lack of congruence, yes? My mental energies are focused someplace other than my present context which will have an adverse effect on my behavior and, subsequently, the attainment of my goals

If I am on a date with my significant other and my goal or purpose is for her to feel loved and adored and my attention is focused on business, my behaviors will not support my goal.

The reality is that my behaviors are going to follow the direction of my focused consciousness. I can say all I want that I am focused on this business task, the diet I am on, or the relationship I have with this person or those people. However, if my attention is consistently somewhere else, sooner or later, my behaviors will point in the direction of where I am actually applying my mind.
Note: I can be aware that my child is at home sick with the flu and still pay attention to my goals in the business meeting. I can be aware of the fact that there are important matters to take care of at the office and still focus my attention on my date. Conversely, I can also be aware that my business or relationships are failing and not be focusing my attention on their success. Awareness is not attention.
Chunking up from particular contexts in my life to my life over-all: what I pay attention to is what I am going to get more of. This can be a good thing, or not so good. On the other hand, what I do not focus my attention upon will (potentially) wither and die. This can also be a good thing or not so good!
One of the first things you learn when you are being trained to drive at high speeds is that you will go in the direction of your focused attention. If you are looking at that looming wall your reflexes will take you in that direction. Look at where you want the car to go.
Switching metaphors for a moment: what you feed increases its capacity for growing. What you starve dies. Over time, we “feed” what we are paying attention to. We “starve” what we are not paying attention to.

Pay attention to your health, you will get healthier.

Pay attention to what will make you more successful in your career, the possibilities for success increase.

Pay attention to the health of the relationships that are important to you, those relationships will deepen.

Pay attention to increasing in wisdom and understanding in every context of your life, your wisdom will expand.

Don’t pay attention to any of these things and the possibility that they will ever be yours is minimal to no-way.

The first step to success in all contexts of life is Attention! Attention! Attention!

Copyright, Monte E Wilson, 2012 

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