​What is there without an attentive life?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

What is the difference between being blind and being able to see?  Or what would it be like to see everything in black and white, for example?  Someone who is used to seeing everything in black and white does not understand that it can be seen in any other way.  Therefore, someone who is used to living life without awareness does not understand what it would mean to live by paying attention to what happens inside them.

Our personal lives are full of nuances that we do not perceive.  However, in the same way that a child who has crossed eyes is taught to correct them, we can also do the same thing; teach ourselves to perceive, to be sensitive to what happens inside us.   And you may say, what does it matter whether or not I perceive what happens when I become sad, angry, feel offended, powerless, enthusiastic, euphoric, anxious, depressed or disillusioned?  Normally, if I feel offended I simply react in my own way responding angrily or shrugging sadly etc.  If I feel sad, I may try to avoid it, to hide it or deny what I believe is making me feel that way.  In any of these examples there is pain.  By not paying attention to myself that automatic reaction overwhelms me and it comes unprompted, without me seeking to do anything like that.  If I paid attention to myself, I would be able to appreciate that I felt fear before I reacted.  Fear of not being accepted, of not being acknowledged, of not being loved, of suffering, of losing my security, of feeling fragile, etc.  Therefore our behaviour and feelings are often driven unconsciously and we do not respond to the external situation but to the personal fear that constantly perceives threats from which to defend itself by means of some kind of reaction. 

If we do not pay attention to what happens behind the scenes in our lives, we do not have the freedom to respond appropriately and calmly, because fear overwhelms us and takes control in order to defend us.Our lack of self-awareness leads us to have strained relationships, to see opponents, where there are just other people who are reacting by defending themselves just as we are.  Like this, there is no chance of meaningful relationships.  There are just clashes between one set of fears and another.  And where there is fear love cannot exist.  Do you feel good when someone only puts forward their position?  When I say “their position” I refer to their opinion, to what they assume, to their beliefs, to their ideas and judgements without really caring about “yours.”  If we do not realise what is really motivating us, we live as if in a dream, governed by the dictates of our fears.  So living attentively is like seeing the world in colour, the internal and external world, that of other people.  If I see the fear that encourages me to react, I instantly have the freedom to choose a calmer response, one that is more balanced, more suited to what the situation requires and it allows me to feel free of the sensation of threat and also, closer to others, to listen to them and understand them, not to judge them or criticise them, because I understand that the same thing is happening to them as it is to me and that maybe they are not able to see it.  Living attentively makes a great difference, as does being able to love unconditionally or, on the other hand, feeling as if you are always on the defensive.  That is what exists when I live an attentive life and that depends solely on me changing my attitude and on my intention to throw myself without reservation into feeling and observing what inspires my reactions. 

I wish you an attentive life!