Practices such as mindfulness, meditation, contemplation, centering prayer have been practiced around the world for thousands of years. Focused attention, calming the ever-busy and scattered mind, taming the wild horses of thought, directing one's intentions towards that which is of greatest benefit for others - these are all bedrock practices for the expansion of consciousness of Bigger Mind, the justice-oriented compassion of Bigger Heart, and the reintegration into a Bigger World.
Attentive Awareness is a means to direct your attention to what is going on around you. You can train up your attention and focus by practicing any or all of the following practices: Sensory Immersion in the Environment You can do this practice anywhere: in your backyard, in a park, out on a trail in the mountains, by a lake or river, wherever.
Find a place to sit comfortably, and still for a long period. After taking a few deep breaths, slowly look around you. Pay special attention to everything you see, taking it in one thing at a time. Listen to every sound, picking out one specific sound at a time, and then moving on to another sound, then another, and so on. Let your gaze sweep slowly around you. Let the images, sounds, physical sensation come into your awareness without any judgment or evaluation or comment on your part. Simply notice.
A variation of this is Walking Attentiveness. Walk slowly around any given place, stopping to smell flowers, rotting leaves, water on stone. Notice how the light casts shadows, glistens off water droplet, brings out the color in flowers and leaves. Notice pollen in the air or on the leaves. Follow the path of a bee, watch a spider spin a web, sit and listen to the birds warbling and chittering to one another. Listen to a slug chew on a leaf, or an ant drag a leaf across the sand. Simply take everything into your awareness.
Attending to the Body Another way to increase Attentive Awareness is to be attentive and aware of what is occurring within our bodies. The following two practices focuses your attention to your physical embodiedness.
As usual, find a comfortable relaxed posture that you can maintain for some time. It is usually helpful to close your eyes so you can focus your other senses on your internal physical state. As you sit, take stock of how your body feels. Where are your points of discomfort or pain? Do you feel warm or cool? Are there stiff muscles or aching joints? Is there a wound that is healing? Turn your attention internally. How does it feel to take deep breaths? How does your throat feel? What is happening in your digestive tract? (Note: This particular practice can have physical benefits as you become aware of things going on in your body that might require medical attention.)
A variation to this practice is to find a level, safe place to move around in. Begin in a standing position. Keeping your eyes open (so you don’t fall), slowly move a hand, and then the whole arm. Let the other hand and arm move also. Move in a free-form fashion, just allowing your body move simply to move. Take gentle steps in no particular pattern. Notice how it feels to move. Where does it feel stiff or sore? Pay attention to your breath. Notice your heart rate or the feel of your pulse. What happens as you speed up slightly or slow down? What are the limits to your movements? Do not persist in any movement that is painful, but note where the pain is. Also take note of how much activity causes you to become winded, or what seems to rejuvenate you. (Note: As noted above, this particular practice can have physical benefits as you become aware of things going on in your body that might require medical attention.)
If you are alone at a meal, instead of watching TV or scrolling through your cellphone, or even reading a book, simply focus your attention on what you are eating. Turn off any music you may be listening to during the meal. Look at your food and notice the colors, shape and form of the food. Take several deep breaths to smell the food. What are the various aromas that you can discern? With each bite, notice the physical sensation on your tongue. How hot, warm, or cool is it? What are the textures of the food in your mouth? How moist or dry is the food? What are the various flavors? Can you detect differing flavors as the food passes over different regions of your tongue? What sounds do you hear as you eat? As you finish your meal, spend a moment sitting and allowing the experience of eating in this way to consolidate in your awareness.