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Attention not Distraction

The power of being present in everyday life.

The power of being present in your day to day life for active people and pro athletes

Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” Thich Nhat Hanh

Meursault, the character from the novel, “The Stranger”, by Albert Camus, represents a man who does not feel any connection to anyone or anything. Without connection, he is almost like the living dead. Albert Camus used the term moment of awareness when Meursault suddenly becomes alive. This happens when Meursault learns he is going to be executed for the murder he committed. At this point he is filled with fear, anxiety and anger. In his despair, lying on the prison bed looking up at the ceiling, he notices the square of blue sky through the skylight. The sky is so blue – it’s the first time in his life that he has felt a sense of connection with the blue sky.

Perhaps like many people, he has looked at the sky from time to time and has not really seen it. Now three days before his death, he is able to connect with the blue sky in a deep way. He decides to live every minute he has left fully and deeply. He lives the last days of his life in his cell with that square of blue sky.

On the afternoon of the last day a priest comes to his prison cell to give him his last rites.  He refuses them. He does not want to waste the last few hours of his life talking to the priest. He says, “The priest is living like a dead man. He is not living like me, I am truly alive.”

Being present produces total focus and connection to the moment.  Savouring, experiencing, learning and growing using every one of your senses and experiencing it through every fibre in your body and mind.  This is a state of knowing that is beyond the five main senses and it enables you to experience your life in a more fulfilled, happier and contented way.  You don’t have to remain attached to the past, holding onto regrets and unhappiness. Thoughts of past negative experiences, yearning for a future “perfect” or fear of potential non-existing, negative, future event (that in reality never arrives) melt away because tomorrow becomes today as the short hand of the clock completes its circle.

The very awareness – mindfulness – reveals a desire to make the most of an experience and intense commitment to the opportunity at hand that turbocharges your personal growth.  It gives you a level of perception that is like having a “third eye”. You “see” more, at a richer, deeper, more vibrant level. Through being aware, you are being open to insights and personal growth and wisdom.

“Living in the moment, means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future.  It means living your life consciously, aware that every moment your breath is a gift” Oprah Winfrey

Being totally absorbed in the moment also brings with it a very keen awareness. There are no distracting thoughts in your mind to muddy the clarity of the moment.  A heightened awareness brings an intuitive sense that allows you to just “know” exactly how to handle the situation at hand. There is no vacillation. There is no trepidation. There is no unease. You have a natural response that aligns with your essence and convictions and provides you with the ability to shape your destiny at that moment.  There is just the sense that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing at that particular moment to be the best you can be. Being totally committed to the moment boosts creative energy and empowers your resilience and capability. There is a powerful energy that accompanies this intention that is perceptible to others and can increase your power of influence and depth of relationships.

How can we apply the principle to our daily lives?

Staying in the moment, savouring the present, and being full attentional allows you to truly enjoy your experience.  Enjoying the journey, experiencing feeling of “zuberance,” we can get out so much more out of life than drifting through each activity, distracted, and on autopilot.  As someone has said, if you are not living in the now, you are not really living.

“Remember then there is only one time that is important – Now!  It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power” Leo Tolstoy

Howard Falco, in his article The Power of a Present Mind in Sports and in Life, tells the story of golfer Rory McIlroy on his way to winning the British Open. “I wasn’t thinking about the end result. I worked on staying in the process on every shot,” is what McIlroy said. “I wasn’t thinking about what it would mean or how many further clear it would get me,” he continued. That simple ability to stay in the moment is one of the key factors that allowed him to play his final round in a state of the greatest calm and control, allowing him to be at peak performance.

How do we even begin to cultivate habits like focus, persistence, and discipline against the ever-present expectation that we should always be on full multitask mode?

Simply, we start with ourselves. Daniel Goleman, author of Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence, says that, “because attention is under siege more than it has ever been in human history, we have more distractions than ever before, we have to stay more focused on cultivating the skills of attention.”

Cultivation is the act of practicing and doing it for real.

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