“Attention is all we really have to give.” G. Roth 1-4-21
After The Holidays you might expect an essay about how unique, how challenging, how memorable the past two weeks were. And they were. But this morning I am curious about distraction, which the dictionary defines as 1) a thing that prevents someone to giving full attention to something else 2) extreme agitation of the mind or emotions. Maybe this topic is connected to The Holidays.
I’m life long intimate with distraction. I guess, for many, distraction is a default state. With varying degrees of success—on the cushion, on the mat, on the dance floor—we come to practice giving our full attention. And then, if we’re paying attention, we notice how the s—t hits the fan when we venture to be present out there in 24/7 land.
Zoom has shed some interesting light on this. When distraction arises as I practice solo in my quiet room, there’s just no dodging it. I’m the only one responsible. I can’t blame the temperature or this person hovering too close to me or the music being too loud/soft or or or… Left to my own devices, without others present, distraction surfaces with astounding vigor in my lonely room. Zoom clarifies how much I lean into physical human connection, particularly on the dance floor, to auto-anchor me to the present moment.
No, I’m not discovering this basic sensibility for the first time. But I am feeling the spotlight of Zoom on my wandering heart and mind. This is not rocket science. It’s simple, just not easy. I like to invite attention to rest down in my body: sensation and breath and motion. Distraction is when the energy rises up into heart or head.
This upward rise is the directional default that creates an ever-repeating loop if we’re willing to track and take it on:
*down into the body
*up into feeling/thinking
*golden moment: noticing we went up (which can take seconds, minutes, hours)
*back down into the body
The practice loop. A hundred times in a single practice.
Why bother? Real life example: I had precious visitation time with family this weekend, rare these days. I tracked myself spacing out and up a few times and circled myself right back down. Didn’t want to waste one moment in non-presence. The afternoon, despite outdoor rain and cold, took on such an easy graceful lyrical tone. This is what’s possible when I choose to anchor back down to body again and again. The mystery opens, I enter a timeless zone peppered with richness that has no compare. And I love that place. It can happen in practice and it can happen in real time.
Maybe this intrigues you. Practicing in the spirit of inquiry we can find what pulls us away. No blame, no shame, just curiosity about what distracts. And what opens when we devote an hour repetitively returning to body language. See below for plenty of mat sessions, which I actually find less distraction-prone than dance sessions. That’s a whole other newsletter.
Super-excited about the newness of January Wednesday Waves, inspired by the nine consecutive dancing mornings bringing 2020 to a close. We heard you and we love this format: one hour…in, out. A single wave really lends itself to tracking the loop. 9:00am and 6:30pm…same class, same teacher, same music. If you morning dance, dance again in the evening, no additional cost, same Zoom link.
“Attention is all we really have to give.”
These are ripe times for extreme agitation of the mind or emotions. Giving our full attention is love manifest. Let’s practice together.