ReMindful - Attention Is More Precious Than Time (4:05 mins)
Is there some aspect of your past that you wish you could return to in order to be more present for what was happening during that stage of your life?
Maybe you’d go back and listen more at school.
Or you’d really savour each opportunity you had to play with your child, while you were still the centre of their universe.
Maybe, given the chance, you’d be more attentive in certain relationships.
Or you’d actually enjoy being on that vacation, rather than keep checking on your work emails.
I’m only intending to be mildly provocative here, but why weren’t you more present while you had the chance to be?
This isn’t an exercise in regret. It’s an invitation to learn something valuable about life in the here and now.
It’s possible you had legitimate reasons for not being as present as you could have been.
But it’s equally possibly - and highly probable - that you were simply distracted by the ‘white-noise’ of whatever else was going on in your life at the time.
Can you even remember what that was?
It probably felt urgent to focus on at the time, but on reflection, was it really that important, compared to what you feel you missed?
Many of us wish we simply had more time, so that we could more comfortably be present for the important things in life AND clear down our inboxes.
But is time really the enemy?
It might be nice to have more of it, but any amount of additional time would surely be pointless if weren’t able to be present for it while it lasted.
So, with our time being fixed, we might think our best hope is to get better at managing it; To organise our lives so that everything we need to achieve or prepare for has its own neat allocated slot.
But again, even the world’s best time management system is of little help if, while showing up to those appointments, we continue to be completely distractible and lost in thought about other stuff.
The truth is, there is no such thing as 'time management'. There is only self management.
In relation to time, all we have is our capacity to direct our intention to pay attention to what we feel is most important, moment by moment.
Each of our lives will ultimately be the sum total of what we paid attention to.
So in that context, attention really is more precious than time.
Developing mindful awareness and training our attention to keep coming back to what is here right now, is the most fruitful ‘time management’ technique their is.
I’m all for strategies for being more organised. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be efficient with the time we have.
But the goal should never be to tick-box our way through time.
Our aim is not to simply get through our days. We want to get from our days. And that means actually being here for our moments - body and mind - as they arrive.
Whatever you’re about to do next, its a one time only opportunity. Why not see if you can you give yourself to it fully.
Because, as spiritual teacher and happiness expert, Robert Holden, points out, if you feel there is something missing in your life, it’s probably you.
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