The power of attention

Most of my learning comes from my children, so when they asked me, “What is the diference between us humans and the animals“?

But, thinking about it, I realized that very often just the opposite was true. At least in my case, I often used my intelligence and mind chatter (77.000 thoughts pass through our minds every day and more than 70% could be negative) to the detriment of myself, our society and this planet. I often focused on what I did not want to see in my life, and every time I did, my intelligence worked to my detriment, making me less happy and very often quite miserable. The more I thought about it, the more it became clear that where I chose to focus my attention determined not only how I lived, but also affected the lives of a lot of people around me and potentially even future generations.

Seven billion worlds…

We all share one planet but we live in seven billion different worlds. Each one of us lives in a world of our own based on what we focus our attention on and which thoughts we attach ourselves to emoti-onally and which thoughts we choose to ignore. So today I am going to share with you my experience of my world and how I see it.

Thoughts will come and go…

I was a victim of my ego & mind chatter. It led me intonegative spirals and I would come out of it focusing mostly on the negative things in my life that I wanted to change. It was like Michael Jordan spending all his time cursing himself about what a poor golfer he was or Tiger Woods doing the same about what a bad basketball player he was.

Then I met Mooji – a spiritual master from Jamaica living in Portugal. Through his guidance and meditation, I realized that I was making myself and the people around me more miserable by focusing a lot of my attention on what I did not want to see in my life.

I learnt that thoughts come and go and if I don’t give them my attention, they have no power over me. It is only when I give them my attention that they become powerful – I give them the power. It was the thoughts on which I focused my attention that became powerful, but I did not do this consciously -it was the subconscious programming that I was carrying with me.

I also realized that I was getting what I was focusin on whether it was positive thoughts or negative mind chatter. Through all the negativity, a very powerful tool had revealed itself to me. lf I used it well, it could help me shape my life by focusing my attention positively on what I wanted and ignoring the thoughts related to what I did not want.

The logic of the revelation was simple, but implementing it required skill.

The fixed and the growth mindset…

One day, while watching a TED talk on „The Power of Belief and Mindset,” I suddenly realized I was often functioning subconsciously with a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset limits our capabilities and makes it more difficult to learn new things as we get older. I had become attached to this mindset and consequently it often determined or limited my behavior.

The growth mindset is just the opposite because it focuses on new possibilities and the positive. We can constantly learn new skills as long as we focus our attention on the learning process and do away with negative beliefs about our capabilities. It is a skill that, just like golf or piano or chess, can be learnt with practice. This was a wake-up call for me.

The Mastery of the Sages…

Later, when I was in Portugal on a silent retreat with the spiritual master Mooji, I realized that all spiritual masters had mastered the ability to focus thein attention on thoughts that would keep them in a positive growth mindset. They were able to ignore thoughts that could put them into a fixed mindset or would be negative – this was their Mastery. This ability to focus attention by design fundamentally changed their lives. This was the most powerful choice they were making, and is probably the primary mason they are called Masters.

The most powerful choice…

The most powerful choice that I have as a human is to determine what happens in my life by simply focusing attention on certain thoughts while completely disregarding others. Initially it seemed difficult. But the more I consciously tried to maintain a growth mindset and focus my attention on the positives, the easier it seemed to get.

Meditation has helped me ignore some of the thoughts that could be detrimental to a growth mindset & it allows me to regain more and more of the power that I thought I never had. Today I believe that we all have this power – the power of focusing our attention on what we want.

If I focus my attention on what I want & thoughts that create a positive synergy and systematically ig-nore negative thoughts about what I don’t want, it brings a very powerful change. It is so simple and yet so powerful that when I first realized it, I spent nearly an hour laughing out loud to myself and thinking about all the time I had wasted on negative mind chatter. Now, when my mind starts chattering, it just brings a smile to my face and I say, “There it goes again”.

As I learn from my children, I also hope to be able to lead my life in a way that they may learn something from me. It would be a fun game of mutual learning. I think it is a beautiful possibility to live into ☺.

Sanjiv Suri

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