Cultivating Exquisite Attention

I have made enough mistakes and taken enough missteps to know there's no easy path in life. Even when the way is clear and the road is smooth, there is no guarantee that blue skies will  bless you all the way. It may even be easier to get lost when all things go your way. That's when you can fall into a kind of "highway hypnosis" that prevents you from seeing the signs or getting the signals that your true path lies another way. And when you awaken to where you are, you may be miles off course.

The antidote to such a charming complacency is exquisite attention.  Exquisite attention is a state of wonder, a kind of eagerness to be in the world, that you see in children. But for most adults, stepping into the world with open arms and eager anticipation, but without narrowing life into patterned expectations, is a lost art. It is the loss of this art that so often leads us to getting lost in our lives. We are too caught up trying to shape the world to our ends to even notice the world we are in. Or we are too taken by the world to notice our place in it and we lose ourselves.

The trick is to empty yourself of the need for the world, for others, or for your self to show up any particular way. Practice cultivating an awareness of your place in the world as it is, in this moment, and bringing your full presence to the ground you now inhabit. Exquisite attention is childlike wonder tempered with immediate grounding in who you are and where you are at. You can never be lost when you bring your full presence to life with exquisite attention because where you are now and where you want to be are then one and the same.

Carving at "Peak flown from afar" next to Lingyin Temple in hangzhou.

Carving at "Peak flown from afar" next to Lingyin Temple in hangzhou.

Take a moment, look around, notice the world you now inhabit. Are you where you want to be?

© Nick LeForce
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