Paying attention and being in the moment

Posted by Nigel Wilson on 28 March 2017 | Comments

I recently read a great blog by Leo Babauta titled ‘Why I’m always in a hurry, and what I’m doing about it’

This resonated with me. I’m often in a hurry, not because I’m running late, but because I want to achieve more

In fairness to myself, I’ve been making a conscious effort over the last few years to slow down. This is largely thanks to yoga, which has taught me how to find stillness in the mind through practicing yoga on a regular basis

But there are some areas of my life, where I still tend to rush, because I want to get through more. One example is reading. There is so much out there I want to read - books, articles, blogs etc. Rather than accept I can’t read them all, I often hurry my reading so I can get through as much as possible

This is ridiculous, because I sometimes miss key points when I read too fast, and instead of being pleasurable, the act of reading itself becomes onerous

Through what I do, both as a recruiter and a yoga teacher, I’m constantly talking with people about their lifestyles. It seems a lot of us are very similar. We’re all trying to pack as much into our lives as we can

One of the dangers in trying to get through stuff fast, and achieve more and more, is that the detail suffers. On major tasks, most people are aware of this, and take the time to get the detail right. But on quicker, less important tasks (especially internet related), it’s easy to rush through the detail

A common situation is that people press the ‘send’ button without checking through the email they’ve written. So attachments are forgotten, spelling is poor, words are missed out, dates and times are incorrect

Worse still is when detail is overlooked on more important things, like booking flights, and inserting incorrect passport details, or getting dates wrong. Or people order stuff online, but in their haste, they overlook the detail and not get what they want

Multi-tasking is something that sharply divides opinion. Some people are intensely proud of the fact they can do several things at the same time. Others, including myself, believe that to get things done properly, they need full, undivided attention

And this - surely - is the thing; by paying attention to what we’re doing, we don’t just get it right, but it makes the experience more enjoyable. Taking the time to complete even mundane tasks gives us the confidence that they’re done properly

Taking the time to do things we want to do, irregardless what they are, makes the whole process so much more enjoyable. Why? Because we’re in the zone. Smelling the roses (and any other cliché you want!). But they’re true. Because we’re ‘being in the moment’, and when we are there, we become more relaxed, we do it better, and we can appreciate more of what we enjoy doing

This is especially important when we’re interacting with other people, especially those who we’re close to. It’s too easy to dismiss others due to lack of time, or interest. There are fewer annoying things when you’re talking to someone, and they’re fiddling with their phone. They pretend they are there, but they’re not. Their attention is diverted. It’s offensive and it’s irritating. It’s also potentially dangerous; for example parents texting as their children play

I remember a story attributed to Bill Clinton, that he had the ability, even as President of the US, to make whoever he was talking to feel like the only person in the room. He focused his attention purely on them, and in doing so, he made them feel very special.

It’s a proven fact, that it’s not what you say that people remember, it’s how you make them feel

So whatever we’re doing, maybe we should just ease up, and stop greedily cramming our lives full of stuff. Turn off the self-indulgence, and just let go of the need to have it all and do it all

In his blog, Leo talked about the practice of generosity. He described generosity as turning away from our self-centred view, and start turning towards other people. Or turning to each moment, giving it the gift of our focus

What a great idea - practice being more generous. To ourselves and to others. To learn how to pay full attention to whatever we’re doing, to get more fun and satisfaction out of what we're doing, and just appreciate being in the moment