Friday, March 23, 2012

The Work of Attention

The title of this post comes out of The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D.  This book was the catalyst to me becoming more aware of who I am, and how my life is shaped by my thoughts, habits, beliefs and choices and regardless of how those thoughts, habits and beliefs formed, I became empowered to choose.  I realized I could choose those thoughts, habits and beliefs to be my reality or choose something different.  I am forever grateful for my father giving me this book early in my college years, it started me on a road to self discovery that has been and continues to be amazing.

I have made a personal commitment of meditating everyday, my own personal meditation marathon if you will.  In The Road Less Traveled, Peck writes, "The principal form that the work of love takes is attention.  When we love another we give him or her our attention; we attend to that person's growth.  When we love ourselves we attend to our own growth.  When we attend to someone we are caring for that person.  The act of attending requires that we make the effort to set aside our existing preoccupations and actively shift our consciousness.  Attention is an act of will, or work against the inertia of our own minds."  He goes on to say, "By far the most common and important way in which we can exercise our attention is by listening."

This listening can take place in conversation with anyone, but in relationship to spiritual practice and meditation, this listening is all in relation to ourselves.  In meditation, we are giving attention to or loving ourselves.  It doesn't mean we stop thinking necessarily (actually I have only had a few moments of close to nothingness in all my years of meditating), rather in meditation we are giving ourselves full attention, we are as Peck states it working "against the inertia of our own minds."  Instead of our thoughts, beliefs, habits and feelings barreling forward out of control and reacting to whatever presents itself, we take a few moments to breathe and observe, we listen to ourselves.  In this attentive listening we come face to face to what is running the show, our thoughts, habits and beliefs.  The point is not to push anything away or stop these thoughts, habits and beliefs, rather for me the point of meditating is to become aware of them so I can choose them consciously or put my attention elsewhere.

The whole reason I started this mediation marathon was due to the act of meditating.  I was getting ready a few weeks ago for class in a hotel room that I was sharing with another classmate, we had big presentations that day to get ready for and not much time to get ready for class, but there he was sitting in meditation, that came first before he did anything else. (thanks Andrew)  I sat down right there with him and meditated for a few moments and found peace for a few minutes, but as I got up from the meditation, that peace sustained.  I meditate on a regular basis, but became aware that morning that it was time for me to move and stretch even more, so every morning before I leave the house I meditate.  My goal is a minimum of 5 minutes.  I want nothing but success for myself.  I often do a bit longer, but 5 minutes is doable everyday, regardless of what my "to do" list for the day has on it. 

I have found and continue to discover greater levels of understanding, insight, inspiration, peace and love for myself and others through meditation.  To me meditation is a practice for life.  It costs nothing, but rewards me with everything!  Join me and give yourself the gift everyday of meditating. Start wherever you are, 2 minutes, 3, 4, 5 or more.  The goal is not quantity, the goal is quality and consistency.  (BTW, I mean sitting still with your eyes closed or fixed on a candle and doing nothing else, not standing in the shower, sitting in the tub, meditating while you brush your hair or teeth, yes you can mediate doing anything, but there is something particular to being still in our bodies even though our mind may choose to "monkey" around as they say.)

Email me with how your practice is going, I would love to hear.  I am also excited to entertain any questions you may have about meditation.

Love, Light & Laughter - Darrell

No comments: