Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What you pay attention to thrives. What you do not pay attention to withers and dies.
Quite simply, it bears repeating.
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This got me thinking… Isn't it also the quality of the attention that determines whether it's love? A person who receives criticisms or abuse is being paid attention to. I can give attention in negative ways (to others and myself) and while the object of it thrives, I am reluctant to call that love. The statement feels incomplete to me without clarification. (I'm sincerely not trying to quibble or be pedantic here, I'm just wondering.)
Comment by Kathryn — June 29, 2009 @ 3:41 pm
That's a very good quibble, Kathryn, because it shows us just where the problem lies. A person who is critical of another is not paying attention to another, but to his or her own critical thoughts. A person who is abusing another is not paying attention to another but to his or her own anger. Indeed, in both of these cases we can see that the person engaged with his or her own judgments is not even SEEING another. Ergo, what we pay attention to thrives. We can clarify by saying non-judgmental attention, but that still keeps it in the realm of dualistic, conceptual, qualifying quibbles. If you pay attention to your own mind, you will experience the difference and see for yourself what attention can do.
Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — June 29, 2009 @ 3:56 pm
Thanks Karen … So appropriate for me to hear today. It is so worth repeating!!! Much Peace …
Comment by Erin — June 29, 2009 @ 5:51 pm
This is the golden ticket that I took away from The Plunge. I find myself holding out my arms and wiggling my fingers in the air.
Comment by Mary Castillo — June 29, 2009 @ 9:35 pm
Yes! Mary! Put it in your own hands where there is no confusion! That's the practice.
Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — June 30, 2009 @ 12:40 am
It's true, it's true! Actions speak much louder than words is another way of saying it. But you said it much better. LOL.
Comment by Elissa — June 30, 2009 @ 12:47 am
I LOVE this. I've heard versions of it before, and my how it resonates. Thanks for bringing it to my attention today. I'm writing it down!
Comment by Molly — June 30, 2009 @ 8:58 pm
Beautiful, simple, true.
Comment by A Free Man — July 6, 2009 @ 12:01 am
Okay, I've got one for you, Karen. I love love love this post today. Been really successfully practicing this over the past year – produces so many blessings. And yet I am noticing lately that some of the old and yucky that I am ready to move past has been haunting me – waking me from my dreams and pushes me into another mind set. I am so torn between that place of wanting so much to let go, focus on the positive (because it works and makes such a difference) and yet what do you do when it creeps back in? Lean into it…i suppose. Hope this isn't too heavy, but had to ask as I know there are many different roads one could take in dealing with it…I am over a year into a divorce and thriving and yet the icky details of the past want to haunt me lately. It's like two extremes…Make sense? Thanks for listening…
Comment by michelle — July 14, 2009 @ 3:40 am
Where are they haunting you? In your head? Do not give them the heft of your waking attention. If they appear in your dreams they are working themselves out. Nighttime is such a fruitful time, but no conscious thought need be given to it.
Is it an anniversary? I recognize feelings surfacing around that time too.
There is no need to replace one thing with another, as in the positive for the negative. Simply allow things to be and do not dwell in your thoughts or feelings.My teacher once told me, "When you are sad, be sad." By not attending to it, it rises and falls by itself. Allow yourself to be as you are.
Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — July 14, 2009 @ 3:48 am
Hi Karen: Thanks for your response. Nope, not an anniversary (but trust me, I have my mental safety kit ready on those days!). I think I am experiencing a tough lesson on how life can be so full of contrast. I was having thoughts and memories that would wake me from my sleep and linger in the day (nothing horrific fortunately, but still hard). The process of grief is so much more lengthy than I wanted to admit…everyone else can take as long as needed, but I am ready to move on already Your words have been so powerful and I have been meditating, which has helped. My dreams are now active and my days are more quiet (whew!). Things are working themselves out in their own time and I am more at peace in the process.
Comment by michelle — July 20, 2009 @ 4:46 am
[...] thank Karen Maezen Miller for the inspiration behind this idea. “Attention” seems to be disappearing at an [...]
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[...] in my head to the point where it wants to explode in disgust and despair I think of this quote by Karen Maezen-Miller: “Attention is the most concrete expression of love. What you pay attention to thrives. What [...]
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