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  • SuePattonThoele

Paying Attention



When you focus your awareness on someone or something, you are paying attention. You have narrowed your field of vision and chosen to look at the person or thing through mental and emotional binoculars. The object of your attention becomes your focal point. Focused

attention allows you to see clearly and in finer detail. Interestingly, almost any person (or thing) to whom we pay close attention gains value in our hearts and minds. Concentrated awareness leads to better understanding and appreciation of that to which we are attentive to. For instance, truly listening to someone and hearing them at a meaningful level adds richness and depth to the relationship. By compassionately focusing your attention on another, it’s possible to understand their thoughts, feelings, desires, and doubts more intimately. Deep understanding opens your heart. While the unknown can feel threatening or suspicious, the known is more easily lovable. Very often, to know and understand another is to love them.


Attention is an invaluable gift to give.


During a discussion of mindfulness with my son Brett, he said, “I think the reason I love adrenaline-rush sports so much is that I have to stay present and pay attention. Because if I don’t, it could be a matter of life or death.” Just what a mother wants to hear, right? He does have a great point, however. While not paying attention to yourself may not catapult you off a mountain cornice to your doom or grind you into the sand beneath a monstrous

wave as it could my son, neglecting yourself over time is so wearing that you can lose your joy and enthusiasm for life. Lack of attention may not physically kill you but having heard myself and many other women say, “This is killing me!” and “I feel empty and dead inside,” and “I think this relationship/job/stress is sucking the life right out of me.” I know that self-neglect is very harmful indeed.


Because paying loving attention often results in valuing, understanding, and enjoying what you pay attention to, it’s incredibly important you place yourself at—or very near— the top of your pay-attention-to list! Just as knowing and understanding another often leads to loving them more fully, the same is true with yourself. Gently and lovingly paying attention to yourself offers you the opportunity to know, understand, and accept yourself more completely, and consequently, it can allow you to fall in love with yourself just the way you are in this moment.


Another bonus received from paying close attention to ourselves and the moment at hand is that we recognize habits and behaviors that no longer add value and joy to our lives. Being conscious of counterproductive or self- sabotaging actions, reactions, and responses as they happen gives you the opportunity to stop and make a different choice, one that is more conducive to health and peace of mind. Focusing awareness on the now not only gives you the opportunity to change what isn’t working, it also allows you to enhance and appreciate what is working. Out of habit or fear, when feeling pressured or rushed, it’s easy to randomly circle the drain and cling to what is driving us crazy. Thankfully, mindful living leads to an intentional life that is purposeful and promotes calm, balance, and peace of mind and heart.

Excerpted from The Mindful Woman by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.

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