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Kol Ami — The Northern Virginia Reconstructionist Community

Positive Aging Blog: Paying Attention- February 2021

PAYING ATTENTION 

by Susan Freiband

One of the signs of aging may be a lessening of the senses, especially hearing or sight.  However all of the senses, including the mind, come into play in paying attention.  This awareness of ourselves, other people we come in contact with, as well as the wider physical and natural world, is an essential part of being human.  How we manage doing this, determines how we live our lives.  Moments missed are moments unlived.  Paying attention to particulars, to small everyday happenings, reveals the fullness and wonder of life.

However, it’s easy to slip out of touch: to look without seeing, listen without hearing, eat without tasting.  When this happens, we are not paying attention, not being present, not actually here.  Clearly the intention is to see, hear, taste what is actually there, in front of us, not what we would like to see, hear or taste.  Waking up to our lives involves turning to and working with whatever arises in our experience, paying attention, being aware of its depth, complexities, nuances.  This requires insight, understanding, and patience.  It takes practice, and is based on self acceptance and self compassion, two essential qualities of a wise elder.

(based on ideas from Arriving at Your Own Door, 108 Lessons in Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn. N.Y., Hyperion, 2007)

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