Working with Your Attention

What You Think Isn't What It Is

by Gregg Krech Bayes, an eighteenth-century mathematician, said that “what we believe to be the state of the world is the product of two things: your prior assumptions and your sensory information. If your sensory information is very specific,...
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Fresh Eyes and Assumptions

Originality is simply a pair of fresh eyes. - Thomas Wentworth Higginson Oxford University recently published research indicating that in certain circumstances people don't notice if the room they are in grows to four times its original size. Researchers used...
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The Sea of 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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Violinist in the Subway

by John Kain The Washington Post decided to do an experiment. Put Joshua Bell, one of the world’s best violinists (literally a child prodigy and a modern virtuoso) underground at a DC Metro station dressed as a street musician and...
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Reality Comes In Moments

As we begin to understand the transient nature of feelings we can see that labels such as neurotic, depressed, or shy cannot accurately describe a human being but only a moment of experience. Now I'm having a depressed moment, now a neurotic moment. To be told that I am a depressed person seems like an unbearable weight to carry through life. But having moments of depressed feelings is, and must be, bearable. Like a grey, dreary sky, this moment of loneliness will pass. Like a foggy morning, this moment of confusion will dissolve. Like a torrential thunderstorm, this anger approaches and departs. And it is the acceptance of my feelings and shift of attention and effort which allows these internal weather patterns to flow naturally, and at their own pace.
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The Gift of the Senses

by Gregg Krech Some people spend their entire life in one place. It may be New York City or a small town in Iowa, but it's the only place they know. I've also spent my whole life in one place...
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Mastering the Skills of Attention - Audio Part I

An radio interview with Gregg Krech on the theme of the Skillful Use of Attention conducted by Pilar Gerasimo, editor of Experience Life magazine. (Approximate Length = 8 min.)...
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Presence of Mind

(In our Winter issue of Thirty Thousand Days we printed an essay from the book Strength in the Storm by Eknath Easwaran. Here is an excerpt from that essay) Most of us live very little in the present. If we...
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Morning of the Spider Webs

We walked and crouched and called to each other to see yet some different web that seemed just a little more beautiful and unique that the last. The sun grew brighter and we hurried from one to another, feeling that the clock would soon strike 12 and the dew would dry and it would all disappear. Two hours later, Steve and I walked silently back up the rail, feeling humbled by tiny spiders and their dew-laced webs. And I wondered: What else in our lives lies beautiful and fragile right before our eyes—but that we've never been able to see?
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Attention, Obstacles and Gratitude

An excerpt from a public radio interview with author Gregg Krech about attention , obstacles and the experience of gratitude. Approximately 2 1/2 minutes....
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Introduction to Attention

An Introduction to the theme of Attention from the CD "Life is a Matter of Attention." by Gregg Krech....
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Taking Note.... of Others

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

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

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

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

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

...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

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

...[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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[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

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

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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