The Art of Attention

Have you ever noticed the way an infant first observes their world?

Their tiny, new fingers grasp and release, their newly opened eyes study and study again, and it seems as though all their sensory modalities are in high alert. Yet if you look deeper still, you will sense something in infants that is very different from ourselves. An infant’s perception contains no judgment, no labeling, and no immediate assessment of whom might be better, quicker, faster, smarter. They are not distracted by what might happen in two weeks, what should have really happened yesterday, or how they would change today if they could.

Their observation of their world around them is quite simply . . . pure perception in the moment.

There’s something to be said for being able to see the world without labels, without judgment and without comparisons. To be able to devote oneself fully to a task at hand and bring one’s attention to the present moment. When athletes or Olympians are so focused on their performance in a sport, onlookers sometimes comment that they are “in the zone.” In those cases, it’s almost as if the act of being and doing become one, and all thoughts are cleared, until only the task ahead remains with sharpened focus and clarity of vision.

So what is the application for our lives?

Our challenge is to be fully present and give our whole attention to whatever task we may be undertaking in a given moment. For some, this may be instructional design, for others it may be interacting with others by delivering a presentation, and for others still, it may be a walk in nature. Whatever the task, we have a choice to bring to the table our full awareness, our whole attention, our pure perception. Here the newborn child becomes our teacher. It is in this place of perception and acceptance, where we find ourselves connected to the flow of life–creative, productive, at peace, and present. In a world where acceleration is status quo, multi-tasking is on the rise, and multiple distractions are ever present, being able to apply the art of attention may be more necessary than ever.

What say you?

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