Editor’s Desk: Attention: Use It or Lose It

Photo by Linda Merryman

Guy FinleySpiritual teacher Guy Finley makes a provocative observation in his book The Secret of Your Immortal Self. He points out that the only things that are truly ours to use are: attention and time.

As I turned this remark over in my brain, I asked myself, “Is this really true?” If so, then the question that occurred to me is: “What can we truly depend on to hold us up in the gale force winds of mindless distraction and chaos?”

 

Winifred GallagherFormer New Dimensions guest, Winifred Gallagher, makes the argument that the quality of our life largely depends on what we choose to pay attention to. If attention is something that is truly ours then how do we own it in this post-modern atmosphere of Olympian levels of commotion and hoopla?

My monkey mind is often diverted by the beguiling temptation to stroll down the carnival mid-way of emails, Facebook, political action clicks, and ordering new reading glasses on-line. Attention becomes mired in the interior tangle of my mind which is like a little girl wandering around, distracted by all the shining and glittering things that pop up while she loosely drags her attention, bumping along behind her like a limp, dusty, mud-spattered rag doll.

This rag doll, representing my attention, holds the promise of my own creative work. Going back to Guy Finley’s statement that attention is one of the things that truly belongs to us and it is our choice to use it or not, I realize that we do have a choice as to where to place it. Do we put it on some quickly disappearing image on our TV screens, or on an anxiety producing thought of something over which we have no control, or do we place it on what is in front of us, our next indicated step in our ever unfolding life-path? The choice is a perpetual activity, one that needs to be attended to minute by minute, day by day.

– Justine Willis Toms