How many times have you heard someone say “Pay Attention”?
I can remember my teacher from first grade saying that all the time. In school, we were asked to pay attention so that we could learn. At home, our parents would tell us to pay attention when they were giving us instructions on cleaning the house or cooking a meal. But I don’t remember anyone telling me to pay attention to life.
We go through each day doing things, time passes. We eat, we talk to people, we go to work, we exercise, we play video games, we email and text message, we watch TV. Yet I wonder as we go through our day, how much of the time are we paying attention?
What does it mean to pay attention when we eat? How many meals do we gobble down while engaged in another activity? Eating breakfast and watching the morning news or checking email. Eating lunch with co-workers, catching up on what everyone is working on or talking about the drama in our lives. No one’s ever really taught us to pay attention to our meals.
Have you ever engaged in a Mindful Eating Meditation? It’s fairly simply. Take a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts. Engage all your senses in the process. Let’s say you have a strawberry in front of you. Pick up the strawberry. Feel the texture between your fingers, the softness of the leaves on top, the fuzziness of the fruit. Rub the fruit along your lips. Smell the strawberry. Sense the sweetness. Lick the strawberry to get a glimmer of taste. Take a small bite of the fruit. Feel the juice drip into your mouth. Chew the piece of fruit thoroughly before taking another bite. Listen to the sound coming from your mouth as you eat. Maybe you release a sigh of enjoyment. Eating one strawberry in this manner may take you several minutes, but you will discover that you’ve never eaten a more flavorful strawberry in your life. By paying attention to your food, you enjoy it more.
The same concept hold true for everything else we do in life. If you are talking with people, listen intently to what the other person has to say without thinking of what your response is going to be. Don’t cut off someone in mid-sentence. If you are working, concentrate on your work and let go of your thoughts about what happened yesterday or what you’re going to do this evening. If you are responding to email, text messaging, watching TV or playing, no matter what you are engaged in, do with the utmost attention.
By paying attention, we live in the present moment and enjoy our lives more fully.
So when you find your mind wandering, gently remind yourself to pay attention. You’ll have a happier day.