Serenity-ReaversOne of the greatest gifts we can give to someone we love is our attention. It’s something we can sometimes struggle with when we’ve been connected with someone for a long time. We get habituated to them and stop treating them as a mystery to be explored. Instead we can come to see them as part of our logistics, like getting the kids to school, paying the bills, and making sure you have clean clothes for the next day. Making our full attention available to the person we love shows them we love them more than a thousand words. And the return is two-fold because not only will they blossom and unfold but we reap the benefits of their becoming. On the other hand, in paying attention to the person we love, we will see all of them, not just the parts that are useful to us.  This is yet another reason why we tend to stop paying attention to their every moment like we did at the beginning. In any relationship its wise to pick your battles and negotiate what you can live with. No connection is going to be and provide 100% of what you think would be perfect for you. It shouldn’t. We wouldn’t grow or become or even love much if they did.

However, there are things we can overlook, ignore, and cope with as long as we’re not paying them focused attention. Once we do, we can’t unsee the issue, we can’t unknow what we know and we will then need to act.  Paying attention is not a passive activity. Paying attention connects us, puts us in the now, makes what is occurring part of us and therefore spurs us to act when things are not as they should be or not as we would have them be. It’s like the rule where things aren’t real unless/until you speak the words out loud. It is common to want to avoid confrontation, difficult situations, difficult or painful decisions and things which disrupt a life we have built which provides what we consider safety and stability. So as much as our attention is a gift, sometimes our avoidance is self defense.

All of these rules apply to our relationship with ourselves as well. The greatest gift we can give to ourselves is our undivided attention. We create habits around aspects of our lives, set phrases and thoughts we create a dependable, unchanging, safe and stable narrative of who we are, how we got there, and why we remain this way. It is a way of not seeing, of picking our battles and avoiding what is difficult, because if we were to put our attention there, we would be unable to stop knowing the wisdom and truth within ourselves. If we stop judging how we eat and simply pay attention, not to calories, portions, choices or options, but simply to the fact that we are eating and keep our attention on the eating throughout the eating process, we come into a deeper and richer relationship with our body. This will automatically bring changes even if it is just a lessening of the judgement. If we turn our attention to our bodies just once an hour during the work day, we might find that what we need is not a trip to the gym but a walk around the block. We might find that we aren’t really interested in the elliptical, but in dance lessons. We can’t unknow what we discover when we pay attention to someone, even ourselves, but what if in the end we don’t want to?