“It is a strange and wonderful fact to be here,
walking around in a body,
to have a whole world within you and
a world at your fingertips outside you.”
~~ John O’Donohue
Blessings to all of my precious people …
Let me be the first to remind you today: YOU ARE A MIRACLE.
The world within you – what an amazing place to explore and experience! More than just the collection of veins and arteries, organs and fascia, muscles and bones, the miraculous landscape of your inner Self contains all your lived moments, dreams, emotions, memories and encoded DNA, as well as all those details from generations that came before you. Imagine that!! We are so much more than just the physical forms we feed and dress and take to work each day. And yet, we tend to forget this, as we move through our days, a bit distracted, perhaps fatigued or overwhelmed by the constant list of “things to do”. Where is the joy? Where is the fun? Where is the hope and optimism?
We need CURIOSITY to spark us, to encourage us to explore our own Self as well as our relations with others, to deepen our understanding and our connections, and very possibly transform our lives. The “research” is clear that curiosity has a range of benefits such as improving your well-being and relationships with everyone from loved ones to strangers. Curiosity is also a potent tool for us to bridge our social and political differences and be part of the shift and change that could benefit our society. Are you interested to see where you might land on the spectrum of curiosity? Take this fun and anonymous quiz! Curiosity Quiz. It gives you a new perspective of the depths of how curiosity can influence our lives and was put together by Scott Shigeoka, and the Greater Good Science Center team at University of California, Berkeley.
But how does curiosity play a role in our life?
According to Mitra Menesh, senior mindfulness educator at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, the most important relationship we must cultivate is the relationship with our Self. Having taught and coached the art of attention for over 40 years she offers a wonderful description of mindfulness: “being accepting and aware of the present moment experience with curiosity and compassion.” Mitra encourages all of us to be more present so we can live a meaningful life, one that is authentic and truthful, loving and kind, growing and continuously expanding. She calls this a “choice centered life” that represents an awakened way of believing, feeling and living, and we undertake this path by taking care of where we place our attention and then using it with intention to enrich our self and elevate the collective.
But how do we do this? And why?
Mitra defines the following: Attentionist is someone who has mastered the practice of meeting choice with Intention, and then turning Intention into mindful Action. That mindful triangle of Attention, Intention, and Action can empower us and change our lives from the inside out. It can determine whether we wake up and take charge, or sleepwalk and suffer. The choice is ours! Choice is the essence of life. But for most of us, most of the time, our choices are unconscious, reactive, and habitual; they feel like they’re not really choices at all. Attention is the key to turning this around. Conscious attention to the everyday flow of experience, the choice-points that present themselves throughout the day, and the opportunities to wake up and become active participants in life as an Attentionist with an ongoing sense of choosing who and how we want to be.
The five attributes of an Attentionist are as follows:
- Curiosity – the opposite of judgment
- Compassion – the opposite of of cruelty
There is a lot of suffering in our world, especially now, and according to Mitra, a great deal of that suffering is due to our lack of knowing about our unused, underused, and misused choices. Recent global events remind us that we cannot rely on the permanence of external support, even if they have served or are currently serving us. It is becoming clear that our truest asset – to our Self, to our family, and to our community – is the way we choose to lead our lives. We are being reminded via the external events all around us that we are not only contagious but also interconnected in our ignorance and intelligence, in our harm and healing, and we can find a way through this to our individual and collective transformation.
Curiosity. Compassion. Can you see how the combination of these attributes lend themselves to creating bridges to connect us to each other? Still, we must make friends with the Self first, because if we are not aware of what moves us, what shakes us, what triggers our own reactions, we will not be able to be Present to bear witness to what is. The power to change is within each of us as we make our way along this Earth journey and manifesting compassion with our Self as well as others allows us to sprinkle kindness along Path.
Another inspiration for choosing Self exploration and practicing a life focused on attention and intention is Dr Gladys McGarey, the cofounder of the American Holistic Medical Association, who at 102 years old, has written her latest book and is currently working on her 10 year plan! In her book, A Well-Lived Life, Dr. McGarey shares her six actionable secrets to living a life that is long, happy and purpose driven. She reminds us that true, vibrant health is more than just physical – it involves mental, emotional and spiritual elements in equal measure.
- Spend your energy wildly: How to embrace your life fully and feel motivated every day.
- All life needs to move: How to move – spiritually, mentally, and physically – to help let go of trauma and other roadblocks.
- You are here for a reason: How to find the everyday “juice” that helps you stay oriented in your life’s purpose.
- You are never alone: How to build a community that’s meaningful to you.
- Everything is your teacher: Discover the deep learnings that come from pain and setbacks.
- Love is the most powerful medicine: Learn to love yourself – and others – into healing.
Learning to turn inward, being aware of your thoughts, feelings and inclinations while paying attention to where you direct your intentions is a wonderful way to practice being present for your own life. There are so many resources available to support your journey to Self and we are happy to offer guidance and direction should you choose to explore mindfulness as part of your regular practice.
“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith, and hope.”
~ Thomas Merton