What you will not find in the Art of Attention posts: overly haughty, unattainable spiritual references, additives or claims of perfection.
What you will find: authenticity, humor, references to the darkness and the consequent opportunities for observation, transformation and editing; refinement.
The Art of Attention is an invitation to observe and deconstruct the veils you've placed between your brain and your heart, as well as the walls you've constructed blocking love in all its forms from your life and experiences. I have many teachers, and I always defer to them whenever I'm thanked; in this forum I will often defer to them to inspire, back up and clarify the ideas I'm presenting.
This first post is no exception.
As we seekers, students, and teachers know firsthand, it is downright foolish to think that we can add any practice and immediately experience perfect understanding, nirvana, ecstasy.
Here, longtime friend, teacher, and healing warrior Abdi Assadi lays it down; you must have the courage [and some proper assistance] to see into what is dark in your being in order to know what needs to be transformed.
For me, that courage is a symptom of your attention.
"The movement towards the light is not enough: we need to shine the light into the deep darkness of our unconscious and illuminate it. Transformation of suppressed material has to be integrated into our chosen path of salvation... Sometimes gaining awareness around a certain wounding is as far as we can go. But that is far superior to sleepwalking to the beat of our ego's unseen machinations. Take this as an invitation to deepen your practice by befriending all that you hold at bay in your psyche."
In my Art of Attention posts I will offer specific direction for your attention, which will help you "befriend" of all the ideas you hold dear that aren't serving you and let them go; yielding the most sought-after openings for your body, mind and heart. Everything presented here is meant to serve as the means to the illumination and eventual editing out of anything dark, diminishing and as-yet-unaddressed. The ideas and practices aren't meant to give you more to do, they are meant to simply grant clearer access to that which still requires transmutation within, and the light that will surely follow, as your direct experience in every interaction.
A few key points to remember as we begin together; I'll refer back to this initial introductory post from time to time so we are always on the same playing field in a state of mutual understanding.
1. This work is about softening that which still holds your heart hostage: assumptions, perspectives, reactions, ideals. But not yet -- hold onto those for now, you still need them. They provide essential observational "holds" as you climb the walls of your inner life. They've also defined you until now, so you must let them go slowly, like an old friend with whom you've grown apart. No reason to blame or be hasty; both are wasteful and steal your energy.
2. To soften anything, you must actually be able to identify it. The first order of business is careful, caring, non-judgmental observation of the situation at hand. Through poetry and the work of other teachers and writers, you will learn to observe without judgment in order to begin the process of collecting information to create the context for ease in your life. Ease -- not just when you're sitting on the beach, or practicing yoga, or with your favorite people -- I'm talking about authentic ease when the real sh*t is happening.
3. To see clearly, I'll provide in each post some type of breathing practice that you can do right here as you sit and read. This way your breathing will become increasingly familiar and available, and the real work can begin. Right now just take a couple of deep, strong breaths in and out of your nose until you're sitting just a bit taller. Don't try too hard, just drink in the nourishment of your breathing.
4, The hardest thing to remember: the source (Source) of the light (Light) is always present within you. Your source is my source, which is the same source as your crazy cab driver from this morning, your uptight neighbor and your favorite child. This source -- of your power, your delight, your deepest fear and your greatest connection to Grace -- is always available to you. Thankfully the world is turning in the direction of providing more frequent and useful reminders of your connection to this universal power, replete with landmarks and points of access. We all help each other. You remind me, I remind you, we all stay connected, plugged in, as we practice, even for a few minutes a day. Our lights lift each other up (and please know, I say this very factually, bluntly, without a hint of the overdone, oversold spirituality as it's come to be consumed), so continue to read, breathe, cultivate your attention and you will find that...
5. Your attention will become the most basic ingredient of every interaction and relationship.
And then you will recognize true freedom.
Next week: Tips for Recognizing and Transmuting Emotions.