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A Practice of Attention- Recovery and Awareness

One of our most powerful tools in life is our ability to direct and focus our attention. 

A great life comes about as alchemy of choices, opportunities, talent, tenacity, practice, clarity, awareness, health, faith, reflection, cause and effect, and how well we mind and direct our attention.

When we live in fear and suffering our attention tends to be hooked by the emotions related to our suffering. Sadness, anxiety, anger, doubts, these feelings tend to become old familiar companions in life. As we become more familiar with and used to the feelings that arise when our attention goes into the stories of suffering, trauma, and fear, (or whatever stories that run repetitively through our minds) we trigger an emotional reaction/response to those stories. This is a simple cause and effect situation. Our mind runs an old story that’s possibly triggered by a current experience. The present moment experience calls up the energy of the old story/experience that’s stored in our energy body our emotional body which does not know the difference between what is real and present moment.  It does not know what is an old mind tale memory of heartbreak/trauma, suffering, and emotions when it comes up driven by the combination of past and present experiences. This is the dynamic that creates reactions in the moment that are out of proportion to the present moment situation. We overreact. It is a set-up of which we have no conscious awareness and it can own us.

Being creatures of habit, we tend to follow our patterns. We tend to believe our patterns as truth and reality. When there is no conscious awareness of where or what we are giving our attention to in our thoughts,the corresponding feelings then feed into our patterns and reinforces them by giving them life. Ultimately, we give the patterns, thoughts, beliefs, and subsequent emotional reactions power over our in-the-moment experience of ourselves and our lives. While the emotions are true, the beliefs and thoughts that trigger those emotional reactions may not be true at all in this moment. Until we have intentionally questioned our beliefs, thoughts, and familiar stories, however,  we will keep falling into the emotional rabbit hole that opens up every time we get triggered.

“Where is my attention?” This is a question we should practice asking ourselves as it holds the key to undoing this automatic reaction pattern.  This is not a practice of judgment. There is no right or wrong to be defended or supported here. This is a simple questioning of is that really true? Does this belief exist here and now in my reality? What is the story I am telling myself? As we question, we bring our attention into the moment and, from an observer’s point of view, are able to hold a place of awareness with ourselves.

The wisdom of our heart can be revealed once we shift our attention from the judgmental nature of the mind/reason to the witness and compassion of the heart’s awareness. Is that true? A simple question that is deserving of being held for the sake of what might be revealed from the inside out. It is a very powerful realization to see how our suffering often happens by our own indulgence. Much of our suffering is the result of our unconscious patterns and stories running on automatic pilot through our minds and the subsequent emotional reactions. This is the bad news and the good news. All we need to do is step back, ask the questions, sit with the answers that come, and learn to practice breaking the patterns of thought/action/reaction that we have created without knowing any better.

There are myriad messages we all have given to our faith/belief over the course of our lives that are not true today. These agreements form the foundation of our belief system, identity, and view of the world. The good news is these are our beliefs, our creation, and we can change any of them, at any time, when we are willing to sit with the question is that really true now? There is no need or benefit to explain or justify; this is a simple yes or no. With gratitude and compassion we can question all aspects of our lives for the sake of coming into an alignment as adults who are 100 percent responsible for our own experiences and choices. This is an act of freedom and power in owning our lives and choosing what to believe and respond to.

It is not unlike a drug in its frequency and sense of empowerment that we energetically develop an appetite for the frequency of emotions that are familiar to us. People who rage have created an appetite for the energy of anger and rage. The same can be said of living with sadness or having grown up in a home that had an overlay of any prevalent emotional frequency. We tend to recreate what has been familiar to us even when that familiar was miserable. It is familiar so it feels safe in a sense. Our mind naturally gives attention to the familiar that feeds the pattern and reinforces that energy/emotional reaction. Think about it, can you see where you have recreated your childhood emotional menu in your adult life? It is no wonder finding ways to medicate have become big business in the U.S.  We live with our suffering/anxiety/fear as though it is normal because by our unconscious patterns it is normal. We have not been taught to question to the core if the why, what and who is true now. Mirror, mirror on the wall what am I living in my world?

As wonderful and nostalgic as our memories might be, they are a double-edged sword if we do not keep a healthy and conscious awareness of what our attachments to old stories create in our present moment life experience. A great gift to ourselves is to have awareness of where, what, and why we give attention to any thought or belief.  Practice makes the master, and the master knows his art. Each of us are living the artistry of our life’s creation. Isn’t it amazing that we can own not only our place in time, but our attention and ability to question and choose from where we will listen for responses to our questions? This is how we recreate our way of living from the inside out. We are the light not the shadows we cast . Yet many of us have learned to live for the shadow and have lost relationship to our Light. By the practice of attention, we will awaken to our deepest truth and greatest opportunities to create a life we love waking up to in the morning.

As “recovering people” we are offered many points of view on what, how, and why we should believe. We are always responsible for what we choose to believe regardless of who is telling us we should accept their point of view. Whether we are dealing with addiction, alcoholism, depression, an eating disorder, bipolar, borderline or any other personality behavioral pattern, we are still the ones who hold the responsibility to choose how we will hold the information of a diagnosis. Of course the professionals that are there to help us have a lot of knowledge and experience, and they are completely responsible for what they present to us.  But we are still 100 percent responsible for how we take that information on and the interpretation we make of it. Being addicted does not make us victims, it simply describes a pattern of behavior and the subsequent issues related to that pattern of behavior.

Practicing awareness of how information feels as we sit with it tells us a great deal. It telsl us whether that information is big Truth, as in an absolute truth. Or maybe it’s a small truth, that it may apply at the moment but maybe not in the future depending on how we respond to our situation. Remember we can and many do recover.

In the realm of treatment for addiction, eating disorders, and mental health there are a great number of points of view along with opportunities to sit with information and awareness. Take what fits and feels correct. Leave the rest. It is by learning to sit with our awareness that we recover our ability to choose and practice owning what we come to accept as the truth.

Life is a great journey and we the recovery communityare the ones who have been offered the opportunity to recreate our lives for the second time as aware, responsible, creative, happy, joyous, and free people. That’s a great blessing, although it may have begun as a terrible curse remember the old cliché’ –don’t judge a book by it’s cover. Our invitation to a greater life beyond suffering and untrue stories of self came wrapped up as a dark challenge. Whats most important is that we say yes to this invitation from life. Such is life and grace as we become true alchemists in transforming suffering into opportunities and awareness.

We are the ones we have been waiting for, so let’s live our lives with gratitude, love, loyalty and respect for ourselves and for all others with whom we share this life.

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