We do not normally think much about our attention. Perhaps this is because our attention is so close to us. Like glasses on our nose, we sometimes forget that our attention is there. But our attention is there. And neither our culture nor our education inform us about how extremely important our attention is in our daily life.
“Being” has two components: our attention and our presence. A person’s presence grows in direct proportion to the growth of the matrix structure upon which consciousness can grow. Since matrix only grows slowly and under certain conditions, presence also grows slowly over time. Watching presence grow would be like trying to watch hair grow. Rather uninteresting. We cannot really do anything with our presence.
Not so with attention. Our attention is mobile and flutters about like a butterfly in a daisy field. When we turn on the television our attention flutters about like a butterfly in a tornado (the tornado being the television). Attention is our main tool in relationship. We can actually work with our attention.
Mostly during the day our attention is not our own. Mostly during the day our attention is owned by the biggest sound, the strongest urge, the brightest flash, or the most dangerous threat in our environment. If there is any passing billboard that shows skin from a half-naked woman our attention is gone. Gone.
Taking possession of your attention is not easy. For one thing, you face cutthroat competition from professional attention predators. Huge corporations spend billions every year in order to get your attention. Corporate marketing departments receive immense budgets for hijacking your attention for two reasons. The first reason is because it works – they can hijack your attention. Your untrained attention is easy to get. The second reason is because getting your attention more than pays for itself. If they have your attention, they have your wallet. The reason to learn to work with your attention is because where your attention goes, your energy flows. If you do not know where your attention is at any moment, then that is where your energy goes – into the unknown. If you are not consciously placing your attention somewhere, then you are unconsciously placing your attention somewhere else. And that is where your energy is disappearing.
Each person wakes up in the morning with the same amount of energy as everybody else. The difference between the results that one person or another person creates is precisely what they do with their attention. Do you think that Mother Teresa had special solar bio-energy collectors that gave her the inspiration to create and manage a worldwide service program? No she did not. She succeeded because she learned to discipline her attention. Do you think Nelson Mandela stayed sane in prison for twenty-seven years by luck? No. He paid careful attention to his attention.
You can learn to pay attention to your attention by consciously practicing to move your attention from one thing to another. You can place your attention on an object, an image, a sensation or an idea. You can move your attention from one object to another object. You can lose your attention. You can give your attention away. You can steal someone else’s attention. You can split your attention, paying attention to more than one thing at a time. For example, you can drive a car, chew gum, listen to the radio, watch interesting people on the sidewalk, scratch your nose and make plans for your day all at the same time.