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 Yogatorial by Midge Kinder

ATTENTION: A Contemporary Perspective

"Pay attention!"

How many times have we heard those words as an invitation or as an admonition?

How many times have we reminded ourselves or others to pay attention?

Most of us try to comply - at least briefly.

We were teaching our Wellness Works program to students in the classrooms at a local elementary school.

After several classes one teacher eagerly approached us to announce:

"I get it! I tell my students to pay attention. You teach them how."

We each have the ability to pay attention (even briefly), but it is rarely cultivated, strengthened and applied to daily life.

We've all formed habits that may include attention, partial attention and total distractibility (absentmindedness perhaps?)

In a mindful awareness practice we have the opportunity to notice our habits (of mind), and explore our own potential.

Modern neuroscience tells us that attention is a significant and trainable skill.

In our practice we direct our attention simply to our breath, posture, movement, and stillness- moment by moment. Our ability to pay attention becomes stronger as we repeatedly "aim and sustain".

Psychiatrist, Daniel Siegel, writes that:

"Attention is central to the mind and behavior."

Neuroscience continues to research and confirm that our attention skills directly shape the mind.

One example is neural integration.

Siegel describes neural integration as "long strands of neurons or nerve cells reaching out to distant and differentiated areas of the brain."

The coordination and balance of the brain is fortified as separate areas are linked together to form a functional whole.

Attention has the potential to positively change both the physiology and the function of the brain.

ATTENTION: A Contemporary Perspective