Let’s try some considerations here about attention to the present.
1. Attention and Concentration.
When someone is engrossed in reading a book or writing an essay, we know with certainty that they are concentrating on that activity. We know that this person is hardly receptive to any other thing at that time. All of their energy is focused, centralized on that activity. This is concentration.
Attention is different. It’s about putting forth an open attitude to stimuli that come to us. We will not be concentrated on something, but rather we will be centered on ourselves at the same time that we are receptive and conscious of what is happening around us without any more considerations.
1. Attending to the inside and outside.
Children can pay attention to what happens on the outside with ease. The stimuli capture, attract their attention, though it may not last long. However, rarely does a child attend to their own internal stimuli, that which is produced inside their own bodies, that is: their moods, if they are sleepy or tired, if they feel pleasure or fear.
The child’s body isn’t one of their objects of attention. Without this education, in their adult lives they will still not be able to attend and perceive what occurs inside them.
1. Attention and distraction.
The practice of attending to the present is fundamental to being able to locate ourselves in the outside world, in each situation that we find ourselves, as much as if it were within ourselves (our internal states).
If distraction is the opposite of attention; that is, the inability to maintain attention, it is clear that a distracted life will lead us to live in a state of disorientation that will spread our energy thin across thousands of things and nothing.
Practicing the attention to the present since childhood will help us carry out a full life, stable and free. However, in order to put something into practice, it is necessary to have the will to do it. Just like how we learn a game by playing it over and over willingly, we will learn to pay attention by doing so voluntarily, in that way learning what attention is and isn’t, and with that, its benefits and results.
Let’s summarize the points that we have wanted to highlight here:
– Attention is not the same as concentration. Attention isn’t concentrating on something, focusing on it with intensity.
– Attention to the present involves us with ourselves.
– Attention to what we experience has to be carried out voluntarily.
– We can and need to learn to pay attention to what we experience in the moment. That is what we call attention to the present.
– Attention only exists in the present. I can only pay attention here and now.