Cultivating Relaxed Attention

 In Reflections

“Today, I entreat you, even if things are flowing beautifully, practice relaxing yourself from head to toe in the midst of your intense on-the-ball focus, and consciously melt deeper into gentle ease with each breath.” —Maggie Lyons

In her book Rooted, Lyanda Lynn Haupt shares research that points to time in nature helping us to cultivate and experience the relaxed attention that supports our brain’s creative functions.

Imagine being relaxed in your body walking on a path while being attentive to the present moment, the breeze blowing, the uneven ground, and all that’s unfolding around you. That’s relaxed attention.

A great state to be in to receive an aha moment, come up with a creative solution to a thorny problem, or experience a sense of calm. How can we cultivate this same relaxed awareness while immersed in work or our daily life?
“We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time
and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves.
And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”
―Thich Nhat Hahn

These wise words from Thich Nhat Hahn point the way towards experiencing relaxed attention more often throughout our days. “Take little pauses.” Create small rituals away from any technology that signal to your mind and body to relax into the present moment.  Ahh…here comes an idea, a moment of peace, and a little bit of joy!

May you take many little pauses today and may they yield a lot more joy in your life.

Time to Defuse

“We need time to defuse, to contemplate. Just as in sleep our brains relax and give us dreams, so at some time in the day we need to disconnect, reconnect, and look around us.”

—Laurie Colwin

Relax and Float…

“To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead, you relax, and float.”

—Alan Watts

For the Moment

It was in Vancouver
at breakfast, before my
second cup of coffee.
I had a moment, a long
moment, before the next
task showed its teeth,
before the meetings began,
and the clink of silverware
glistened slightly, and the
coffee warmed my throat,
and I fell into the well of
a silence that was there
before I was born.

For the moment, the
thing that waits behind
my tongue dropped way
down behind my heart,
like an iridescent fish
hovering under all that
water near the center
of the Earth.

Now the phone is
ringing. The emails are
flitting, and the voices
in the hive of which I
am a part of are mounting.

But the coffee is
steaming and my mind
for now is clear and the
path between it and my
heart is open and I
finally have nothing
to say.


—Mark Nepo, Reduced to Joy

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