The tempo of our lives seems to get faster every year. More meetings to go to, more errands to run, more soccer games to take this kids to, more emails to reply to, more stuff to check or post on Facebook.
Our attention is getting splintered. More and more gets less and less attention. Everything we experience is getting only our partial attention.
This used to be a cliché, popular in movies – the husband reading the paper as he ‘listens’ to his wife chatting, occasionally responding numbly ‘yes, dear’, the wife talking away undeterred.
Many writers now talk about the need for mindfulness – paying devoted attention to what’s happening right now.
Imagine taking ten minutes to eat one grape. Smell it, feel it, heft it, experience it in as many ways as you can before you pop it in your mouth. Once in your mouth, resist the urge to immediately bite down or swallow. Experience it anew in this context. Eventually, bite down to split the grape, and wallow in the new sensations in your mouth. Eventually, swallow and notice still more.
Obviously, this is not something you can do for an entire meal. In a restaurant, the waitress (and the people standing in line hoping to get your table) will get mightily impatient. At a lunch break at work, people waiting for you at a 1 o’clock meeting might put a missing-person’s report on you. But this little exercise may teach you a little about how to slow down when eating. Eating is a rich source of sensory experience, and is a wonderful opportunity to focus your attention.
Meditation is a wonderful way to cultivate mindfulness. There are tons of books and online resources to help you begin to meditate. It’s something that can be practiced anytime, anywhere – no special clothes, no special setting, no teammates required.
You’ll find meditation enhances your attention, and your awareness to what’s going on right now. It’s an amazing thing to experience more fully what’s happening right now, without trying to impose your own story on it, worrying where it’s going, or how it got there.
As a coach, I used to think my job was to help people put themselves on a new life path. For those really eager to change, this is fairly easy. Often such people have just experienced some ‘jolt’ to their life, for example, a divorce, the loss of job, etc
But many people find change scary. For these people, I like to think of my role as coach is simply to help people become aware of their life, to pay attention more to what’s going on, and what feelings are swirling around. Sometimes, simply paying more attention leads to things shifting, seemingly without effort – something was waiting to shift, but it needed us to get out of the way. Another part of my role as a coach is to help empower you to make those changes.
Contact me if you want to learn more, or think this type of coaching is what you need now in your life.