Why are you so petrified of silence?
Here—can you handle this?
Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines
Or when you think you’re gonna die
Or did you long for the next distraction?
Hi there; how are you?
No, really. How are you?
Are you rushed and tired? Are you staving off boredom in a waiting room, classroom, or office? Are you anxiously awaiting a package? Are you relieved that you finally ate and your blood sugar’s rising? Are you taking an overdue break? Are you procrastinating?
Have you checked in with yourself today?
It’s like my parents’ adage about savings: always pay yourself first. It makes sense—you’re the one working so hard—but it usually slips your mind. And as with money, so with other varieties of attention. We’re all out of practice.
First, you have to stop.
Quiet your breathing; make it deep and even.
Now close your eyes.
Without practice, it’s hard lavishing ourselves with attention so I’m pretty sure that you’ve reopened your eyes and continued reading by now. Did closing your eyes feel awkward? Did you do it? What did you notice if you paid attention? Sometimes it’s discomfort, sometimes uncertainty (I mean, what exactly are you supposed to be doing?), sometimes relief from the constant bombardment of external cacophony.
Me, it’s these—but it’s usually also a reminder that I’m so out of practice that I need to do it again. And keep doing it. When I stop, forget, move on to other things clamoring for attention, I’m lucky to accidentally close my eyes with a deep breath and happen to stick around long enough to notice that I’m out of practice.
When you’re lucky enough and that happens, what are you resting your attention from?
What are you resisting?