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Attention & Mindfulness

Working with Your Attention

A Distance Learning Course sponsored by ToDo Institute, April 2008.

Life is a matter of attention. Your experience of life is not based on your life, but on what you attend to. In the April Working With Your Attention program, you'll practice exercises based on Constructive Living, Morita Therapy and Naikan which help you develop skill in using your attention.

Exercises range from cooking a silent meal to poetry to mindfulness of one's speech. Often we go through our day without noticing and without noticing that we're not noticing. Attention exercises help pull our attention back to the present moment. We begin to become aware of how often our attention is captured by daydreaming, planning, worrying and self-focused feelings and thoughts. Only through sincere practice and conscious effort can we begin to build a healthy foundation for becoming mindful of what we are doing and of the world around us. Join us during the month of April 2008 for Working With Your Attention. .

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The Sea of Mindfulness

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Attention and Mindfulness

Accept what nature offers, and work with it. After some years, the effort becomes natural, effortless. And you are ever mindful. Sailing single-handed, especially, mindfulness is THE rule of survival. Constantly aware of the slightest shift of the wind, a gathering of clouds on the horizon, a change of the texture of the sea. The feel of the rudder, the angle of the sails, the sound of the rigging, the motion of the boat, all become part of the whole that never wanders from your consciousness, it all works together, and if you lose this mindfulness, things start coming apart very quickly. Alone on the ocean, you also remain aware that despite all your best seamanship, there are forces that can kill you in a few moments. If you can't accept that, you will never be comfortable at sea. But it is all very easy to accept at sea, because there is simply no other way it can be. Just so.
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Taking Note.... of Others

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Now it's important to make the younger musicians understand that the choices you make on the bandstand are exactly like the choices you're going to make in the greater society.
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Mindfulness and Mental Health

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Co-authors Kirk Warren Brown and Richard M. Ryan researched the phenomenon of mindfulness and tracked indicators of psychological well-being. They designed a scale (MAAS) to measure this quality of consciousness and administered it to subjects from college students and working adults to people who meditate and those with cancer. "We've shown that mindfulness can be reliably and validly measured and has a significant role to play in mental health," says Brown, visiting assistant professor of psychology.
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Teaching Children the Skill of Paying Attention

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The ideas of floodlight, flashlight, and laser light attention have given our students and staff a vocabulary. We can use these words to help students redirect their attention. For example, if a student is looking around the room rather than focusing on the task at hand, saying "flashlight attention" would cue the student to focus on the assignment. Knowing the difference between these three types of attention helps students begin to think about what particular attention skill is best suited to the situation they're facing at any given moment.
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The Real Reality Program

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The judgment calls of parenthood are endless -- how much, how often, what age, what kind, what time, what if, what now, with whom? Most of the time such judgments are made in shades of gray while weighing temperament and maturity, for example, or family values and individual interests. But not this time. No weighing, no comparing, no computing. Just NO. Clear as the reception on a big screen football game. NO TELEVISION. What a gift.
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When It Comes to Attention, "I" am the Enemy

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But it is the tragedy of psychology that it is still preoccupied with self-preoccupation. Too often it teaches us to do what we already do too well -- pay attention to ourselves. In the course of exploring our pain, our worries, our feelings and our dreams we forego the development of our more needed skill -- to notice and engage the world around us. Without practice, our muscles atrophy. So the next time you find yourself self-absorbed, take a walk. Look around you. The world is an interesting place. It might even give you something to do. If the stars are out, close your eyes. Listen. You might just hear them twinkle. That is how they get your attention.
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Anxiety as Misdirected Attention: A Case Study

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...I learned two very important lessons. First, never make assumptions that because something is long-standing it is therefore complex and intractable. Secondly, working simply is the best way to start (and in this case finish).
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Wake Up and Smell the Rosemary

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Before long, the hour was over. My client's anxiety had vanished. There was nothing more to say. No grand message or moral to send him off with that night. Our actions had spoken louder than all the words I had uttered previously.
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Powers of Observation

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...[O]bservation is a major key to success. The observation of the passing scene is proof against boredom; every day brings new sensations, new things to enjoy and to think about. And by providing constant mental and emotional stimulation, observation lets people know what it means to be truly alive -- to live life to its full potential. Whatever other successes one may have, the leading of a vibrant and fulfilling life is the highest success.
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Multitasking Madness

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So if you're good at multitasking, try working on your likely weakness -- one pointed concentration.
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This Is Your Wake-Up Call

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We think of a wake up call as a rare service -- something we ask for when we're traveling and staying in a hotel. Something we arrange to happen first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, our minds often drift back to sleep, to mindlessness, many times a day. But we can use sounds as wake up calls to help us reconnect to life around us.
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Extreme Attention

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One positive point from this realization is the heightened awareness of the need to pay attention to the now. I have found that the world is an amazing place if I simply take the time to notice.
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Where Everything Begins

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Flannery O'Connor had got it right -- this is where everything begins: with the senses.
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Dealing with the Downs and Outs of Depression

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These are seven strategies that can help you respond more effectively to depression. They're not easy and developing skill will take some time and effort. But you'll find that most of these strategies will benefit you in other areas of your life: a healthier body, more intimate relationships, and a closer connection between your spiritual beliefs and your daily life.
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Simply Seeing

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Is paying attention that easy? You mean, that's all I have to do?
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Exploring the Link between Gratitude and Attention

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[T]o cultivate gratitude, we need to develop a new habit of attention.... Through self-reflection, we can come to see everything we have, and are, as gifts. And through self-reflection we begin to train our attention to notice what we haven't noticed.
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The Needs of the Situation

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If we can teach our children, by example and through loving guidance, to answer the question, "How do I respond to the needs of the situation in this very moment?" we offer them a valuable lesson about attention . . . and responsible action.
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Finding Meaning in an Age of Distraction

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The things that stick in one's mind as the deep and wonderful expressions of one's life, are counterintuitively usually those things that go against this notion of convenience, of comfort, of this centrality of our own importance.
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